Books are organized and loaded onto carts to be digitized.

In 2006 the University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries established a partnership with Google to digitize books and make them available online. Now after a brief break, that partnership is being re-established.

The new effort is focused on the digitization of government publications and materials that are out of copyright. All items will be stored in both Google Books and HathiTrust, an online repository established in 2008, by UW–Madison and several peer institutions.

UW–Madison Librarian Heather Weltin, who is the Director of Collection Management and Resource Sharing, said the Libraries currently send about 10,000 items to Google every month. The effort is expected to continue through 2018.

“We have three staff devoted fully to this project,” she said. “They send a semi truck full of materials out each month. It’s a labor-intensive process to get these things ready, but the Libraries are committed to it. It’s a really important effort, not just for our campus, but beyond.”

Weltin also said that the partnership gives the Libraries the help they need to digitize materials in the most efficient way possible.

“[The partnership] is a way to archive these materials and make them available in a way that we wouldn’t be able to afford ourselves,” she said. “Digitization is a huge and costly undertaking for libraries, and it’s something that we couldn’t do on our own. By participating in the Google Books project and HathiTrust, we’re able to get this work done and retain these items in a way that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Associate University Librarian for Collections and Research Services Doug Way said that having the materials digitized will be of great benefit to researchers both on and off the UW–Madison campus.

“The real benefit, as far as the digitized materials that don’t have copyright restrictions, are that people will be able to access them around the world,” he said.

More information about the project can be found at Google Books and the HathiTrust online library.

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