Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 12:37 PM
Today the Library of the University of Lausanne announced it is the latest partner to join the Google Book Search Library Project. This is great news for the preservation of Swiss cultural heritage and for Francophones like myself, who are thrilled about the addition of even more public domain French books to the index.
When I first visited the library, Hubert Villard, Director of the Library, recommended I check out Le Livre à Lausanne, cinq siècles d'édition et d'imprimerie. In reading it, I discovered Lausanne and the Canton de Vaud region have an established tradition for innovation in the publishing and printing industries that dates back to the 15th century.
During the last century, the University of Lausanne has been one of the pioneers in library automation in Switzerland as well as the rest of Europe. In fact, the idea of opening up the library's collections to the world (thousands of books in the public domain) has been entertained for many years by the director and his staff. Today, in 2007, through a shared vision with the government of the Canton de Vaud (who supports this major cultural initiative) and a broad partnership with Google, this dream becomes a reality.
I was born in Lyons in France, not that far from the Swiss border. It has been wonderful for me to see our French-speaking neighbors embrace the idea of universal online access for their collections. And soon I won't have to cross the border to be able to browse the University of Lausanne's shelves, which include an original of Diderot's 18th century Encyclopédie.