Saturday, 1 December 2007

CMU digital library contains >1.5 million volumes

Yahoo has a news story about the Universal Digital Library, a book digitization project that Carnegie Mellon University began over a decade ago with the hope of eventually digitizing all the published works of humankind and making them freely available online. Last week the project announced that they have digitized over 1.5 million books so far. The computer scientist in charge of the project, Raj Reddy, reports that books have been borrowed from institutions and people all over the world and scanned into the library. The library so far has digitized books published in 20 languages, including 970,000 in Chinese, 360,000 in English, 50,000 in the southern Indian language of Telugu and 40,000 in Arabic. Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and copyright lawyer working on the project, said that they want to make vast amounts of information freely available while preserving rare and decaying books. Although both Google and Microsoft have also begun massive digitization projects, the CMU folks say that theirs is the largest university-based digital library of free books and that its purpose is noncommercial.

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