Thursday, November 03, 2005
The world's libraries are a tremendous source of knowledge, much of which has never been available online. One of our goals for Google Print is to change that, and today we've taken an exciting step toward meeting it: making available a number of public domain books that were never subject to copyright or whose copyright has expired. We can show every page because these books are in the public domain. (For books not in the public domain we only show small snippets of the work unless the publisher or copyright holder has given us permission to show more.)
Our partner libraries –- the University of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, the New York Public Library, and Oxford –- have preserved and nurtured these books through decades of wear and tear, and we're excited to play a part in ensuring that they, and the knowledge they contain, will be more accessible than ever for decades to come.
Every page of these books is fully available online, so you can study, for instance, an illustrated version of Henry James' Daisy Miller (the opening illustration on page one is pictured here) from Harvard's Henry James collection, or read how Private Joseph Taylor got his medal of honor in style, in The Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War, 1862-1865, from the University of Michigan.
And since every word is searchable, as you are browsing The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York -- from the New York Public Library's collection -- you can find that there were more grocers than bankers listed in 1855.
From Stanford's collection, there are government documents detailing what the Fiftieth U.S. Congress spent money on in 1888, or the results of investigations into the fur-seal and other fisheries in Alaska.
See for yourself what some of these libraries have -- using the date operator, and searching for the phrase [steam engine], you'll find different results in books no longer under copyright in the U.S. and books in the public domain internationally. And all that you can find today is still just a small taste -- call it part 1 -- of what you'll be able to find tomorrow, as Google Print helps users discover, search and access the world's rich literary history in ways that were previously impossible.
p.s. If you're interested in other projects that make public domain books available, check out the Million Book Project's The Universal Library in the U.S. and in China, and their Digital Library of India as well as Project Gutenberg's public domain catalog of books.
Updated with p.s.