View Full Version : How to digitize a million books

Bob Russell
03-01-2006, 06:10 PM
Even digitizing a single book is a pretty significant endeavor for a single individual. But Google announced a couple of years ago that they were going to digitize entire library collections including the New York Public Library and Harvard University libraries. This may be a big challenge, and may even face some legal resistance, but it's also a big step forward into the digital generation of books.

So far, Google has been very private about how they plan to accomplish all of this. I suppose they don't want any others to copy their methods. Or get indications of how they might make use of the scanned materials based on scanning methodology.

But it turns out that Carnegie Mellon University is doing a large scale scanning effort of its own, and they are talking about it. They are using off-the-shelf scanning technology and put book scanners at 40 locations in China and India in order to keep costs down.

Check out more on both efforts at Technology Review (,300,p1.html).

But maybe Google is using robotic scanners. This approach was experimented with at Stanford. For an interesting interview on it with Michael Keller, University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, and Publisher of HighWire Press and the Stanford University Press, check out this article (