skip to page content | skip to main navigation
 Catalog and Search Tools  Research Help   Libraries and Collections  Services  How To ...  About SULAIR

Departments, Units and Programs
Special Projects and Professional Practices
Professional Practices
SULAIR Directories
Giving to SULAIR
For SULAIR Staff

Printer-Friendly Printer-Friendly     

Stanford Google Library Project: FAQ

Stanford University is collaborating with Google Inc. on an ambitious plan to digitize large numbers of books from the Stanford University Libraries' collections.   This project marks a significant contribution toward our vision of a digitized library that will provide scholars at Stanford and beyond with unprecedented access to scholarly information.  

SULAIR staff are working closely with Google staff on the many operational aspects of the mass digitization project. Under active operation and continuous refinement are book move logistics, data management for volumes moving through the process, physical handling guidelines, and other tasks related to proper control of Stanford's collections. Close attention to copyright laws is embedded in all aspects of the project.

Why is Stanford pursuing this project?

This project directly contributes to the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources' (SULAIR) mission of supporting research and learning at Stanford and beyond by providing substantially enhanced access to our collections.   In addition, SULAIR will gain expertise with handling truly large amounts of digital material and will be able to develop tools for adding features to the complete files that Google will make available to us as a result of this project.

This project was approved by the Board of Trustees at Stanford University, and has the enthusiastic support of the university administration.

What do Stanford and Google each bring to the project?

Stanford is providing access to books from our collection of over 8 million volumes.   Google brings expertise in digitizing and search technology.   In addition, Google will bear the direct costs of the digitizing.

Who is doing the digitizing? Where it it being done?

Google will provide the staff necessary to digitize the books selected. The scanning will take place at Google's Mountain View headquarters.

How will patrons be impacted while books are being digitized

SULAIR staff are committed to continuing to provide excellent service and access to our patrons, and we are implementing procedures that will minimize the impact of this project. We expect that the average length of time a book will be unavailable during the digitization process will be less than one month.

How many books will Stanford digitize? How will they be selected?

The agreement with Google is open-ended; it neither targets specific collections nor specifies a minimum or maximum number of books to be digitized. Stanford is working closely with Google to continually refine our production schedule. We anticipate working with Google over a period of years and with potentially millions of titles.

SULAIR senior staff are developing a plan for targeting collections for digitization. The plan will include consideration of many factors, including the current physical location of the collection, the percent of a collection that is out of copyright, the relationship to other ongoing collection relocation projects, and any special publisher interests or permissions that might apply.

What about fragile or brittle books?

SULAIR staff are applying their expert judgment to deciding if a book is physically suitable for scanning. While our goal is to digitize as many items as possible, books that might be damaged in the process are not being digitized.

What happens to the physical books once they are digitized?

Because we recognize the enduring value of physical books, SULAIR has every intention of keeping the physical copies of every book that is digitized.

What about copyright issues?

Both Stanford and Google are committed to respecting the rights of publishers and copyright holders. In every aspect of this project, careful attention will be paid to the protection of copyrighted materials.

When will Stanford materials appear in Google Books?

Many items from Stanford’s collections are now available through Google Book Search ( The available items include many U.S. Congressional Hearings. To see samples of items from Stanford’s government documents collections, try searching on terms such as “National Flood Insurance”, “Artic National Wildlife Refuge”, or “Food Stamp Act ”.

Will books scanned at Stanford be available to the general public? In what format?

Materials that are clearly in the public domain (mostly materials with publication dates of 1922 or earlier) will be available to the general public through Google. All users should be able to view the full text of public domain materials online. This will be part of "Google Book Search"; see for more about the services offered.

Google is displaying snippets of copyrighted materials online in ways that adhere closely to appropriate copyright protections. Access to digitized content served by Stanford will be restricted to members of the Stanford community.

For more information about the Google Library Project, please see:

Who are the contacts for he Stanford Google Library Project?

For the library professional community: Michael A. Keller, University Librarian and Director of Academic Information Resources. For the press and public: Alan Acosta, Associate Vice President, and Director, University Communications.


Last modified: January 18, 2006

© Stanford University. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints