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The University of Texas Libraries has partnered with Google to make selected books from the Libraries’ collections searchable online. For books in the public domain, full text copies will be available at no charge through Google Book Search. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this partnership.


  1. Why did the University Libraries decide to join the project?
  2. Why did Google want to partner with the University of Texas?
  3. What other libraries are involved in this project?
  4. When will this partnership start?
  5. How many books are involved?
  6. Will the books come from certain collections or will you include works from all of the Libraries collections?
  7. How will Google and the University of Texas handle in-copyright works?
  8. Who is funding this project?
  9. What does the University of Texas get in return?
  10. How does this project help University of Texas faculty and students?
  11. How does this project help people outside of the University?
  12. Will the books scanned for this project be made available for purchase?
  13. Is digitizing going to harm the physical books?
  14. Where will the books be digitized?
  15. If I need a book that’s checked out to Google, how fast can I get it back?
  16. Can I read the agreement between University of Texas and Google?
  17. I’ve heard there are lawsuits pending around Google Book Search.
  18. Where can I go to see a book digitized by Google?

Why did the University Libraries decide to join the project?

The University of Texas Libraries has been a pioneer in developing web-based resources for online public use. From groundbreaking information resources such as the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America and the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection to innovative online tools such as web-based reference services and online public catalogues, the University Libraries has been an early proponent of using the Internet to increase public access to the information held in our collections.

We are happy to join the group of major libraries participating in the Google Book Search project. The partnership advances the Libraries’ commitment to facilitating scholarly research on a world-wide basis by creating digital access to our collections, and enables the University Libraries to participate in content selection and thus insure that scholarly materials are widely available on the Internet.

Google’s work will also facilitate our efforts to safeguard and preserve the cultural legacy represented in these printed works. This project will let us digitally preserve hundreds of thousands of texts from the University’s important collections. Many of these materials are out of print and hard to find. For those materials in the public domain, Google will make those works fully viewable through their Web site, and the University will receive digital preservation copies of all our out-of-copyright contributed works.

As a research library, our goal is to collect appropriate materials, connect people to the information in those resources, and keep them preserved and accessible. The relationship with Google fits with that goal.

Why did Google want to partner with the University of Texas?

The University of Texas Libraries is the fifth largest academic library in the United States. The collections of the University of Texas Libraries are the result of more than one hundred years of continuing commitment by librarians, faculty, students, and private donors to build one of the great library collections of the world. Containing more than nine million volumes and providing access to the latest electronic research materials, the library collects the products of human knowledge in all formats. In addition, the University’s library collections have several areas of particular strength, such as the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. Together, these collections offer significant value in addressing Google’s objective of making the world’s books discoverable.

What other libraries are involved in this project?

Currently, the other research libraries involved in this project are University of Michigan; Harvard University; Oxford University; the New York Public Library; Stanford University; the University of California libraries; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of Virginia; the Complutense University of Madrid; and the National Library of Catalonia (and four affiliate Catalonian libraries). Google is also conducting a pilot project with the Library of Congress.

When will this partnership start?

The partnership began in January 2007 and has an initial term of six-years.

How many books are involved?

The Library has nine million books in total and all of these will be under consideration for digitization. The current contract commits both partners to digitizing one million of these books, but that number could be revised in the future.

Will the books come from certain collections or will you include works from all of the Libraries collections?

Library staff will select the titles to be digitized. We will emphasize subject areas in which our collections are particularly strong, such as the world renowned Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, but will look at titles from across all our holdings.

How will Google and the University of Texas handle in-copyright works?

Both Google and the University are very respectful of copyright law. Neither partner will make full text versions of in-copyright materials available to the public.

Google has specifically designed Book Search to comply with copyright laws. Anyone will be able to freely view, browse, and read public domain books. For books protected by copyright, users will just get basic background (such as the book’s title and the author’s name), at most a few lines of text related to their search, and information about where they can buy or borrow the book. Google has reached an agreement with publishers and authors to make the full-text of some copyrighted books available under certain conditions. This agreement is currently being reviewed by the United States District Court. If publishers or authors don’t want to have their books digitized, they will be excluded.

Who is funding this project?

Google pays for the total cost of digitization.

What does the University of Texas get in return?

The University gets valuable exposure for important collections that are otherwise difficult for the public to learn about. In addition, Google provides digital files of these works to the University. These files will be useful as preservation copies; if the physical book gets lost or damaged in the future, we have a digital copy of it.

How does this project help University of Texas faculty and students?

The University of Texas Libraries supports research, teaching, and learning at the University and in the broader academic community. In the past we have worked to create digital versions of public domain books to facilitate this work. This project will make substantially more books available for these purposes much sooner than would otherwise be possible.

How does this project help people outside of the University?

The materials that Google digitizes from the University of Texas Libraries collection will be included in Google Book Search, so anyone can discover and use them. In this way, the project also increases the discoverability of both public domain and in-copyright books. While people will not be able to get the full texts of in-copyright works that they discover on Google Book Search, they will be able to buy the book, or borrow it through a library.

Finally, physical books can be vulnerable, no matter when they were published. This project will help preserve library resources for future generations.

Will the books scanned for this project be made available for purchase?

Google Books is primarily a discovery tools aimed at making the world’s books easier for people to find.  Google Book Search currently provides links to online booksellers for users interested in purchasing copies of books located using the search tool.

Is digitizing going to harm the physical books?

Google has made an extraordinary commitment of research and technology to ensure the books are not damaged. We have confidence in Google’s expertise and experience in handling physical and digital texts. Any time a patron or librarian handles a book, there is a risk of damaging it. That’s a reality of offering access to collections. By digitizing the books now, we can reduce further damage from human handling, mold, insects, etc.

Where will the books be digitized?

Books will be digitized at a secure facility run by Google and approved by the University of Texas.

If I need a book that’s checked out to Google, how fast can I get it back?

If you need a book that is checked out, please work with the library staff to get it recalled. It should be available in about the same time as if you recalled it from any other patron or borrowed it through InterLibrary Loan.

Can I read the agreement between University of Texas and Google?

The agreement [pdf] and amendment [pdf] are public records and posted on the University of Texas Libraries Web site.

I’ve heard there are lawsuits pending around Google Book Search.

Google has provided detailed information on the legal issues here.

Where can I go to see a book digitized by Google?

You can see examples and screenshots here.