Google book search adds five Catalonian libraries

The National Library of Catalonia and five affiliated libraries have agreed to take part in Google Inc.’s bid to scan book collections of the world’s great libraries, the third in Europe to join the project.

The two organizations said in a statement that they would soon be digitizing hundreds and thousands of public domain works, including collections by Catalonian writers such as Ramon Llull, Angel Guimera and Jacint Verdaguer as well as Cervantes and Gongora.

“It once was the case that only those who could visit our library were able to ‘visit’ our books,” Dolors Lamarca, the director of the National Library of Barcelona said.

“Now, anyone interested in the vast number of titles our library houses will be able to find and access them online.”

The four other libraries taking part are the Montserrat Library, the Seminary Library of Barcelona, the Excursionist Center of Catalonia, and the Barcelonan Ateneu Library.

Other participants in the Google books library project include the Complutense University of Madrid, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, a number of U.S. universities and the New York Public Library.

Google, the world’s most used search engine, is also conducting a pilot project with the U.S. Library of Congress.

The drive to digitize major libraries was nearly derailed when authors’ and publishers’ groups sued Google in 2005 to block scanning of copyrighted library books, arguing that — akin to Napster’s effect on the music industry — the effort might tempt consumers to stop buying printed works.

Google has countered it is creating the electronic equivalent of a library card catalog for copyrighted works and that the library project only plans to publish the full texts of out-of-copyright books in the public domain.

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