Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 11:48 AM
Many moons ago, when I was a graduate student at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), I spent more hours than I care to remember in many of the university's two-dozen libraries, where I checked out books on subjects ranging from finance and accounting to globalization and privatization. Over my years at SIPA, I must've carried close to a ton of books between West 118th Street and my home off of Morningside Park. My time at Columbia was one part mind-expanding and one part back-breaking.
Now, years later, I work here at Google on a variety of exciting projects, including Google Book Search. Today, I'm pleased to announce that Columbia University has become the 28th library to join with Google Book Search to digitize works from its collections, and make them searchable and discoverable online. These public-domain works will be available to view and download for anyone with an internet connection.
This is great news for readers everywhere, who will now be able to view Columbia's amazing collections of books on architecture, political science, international studies, Asian languages and more. In practice, this means that a high-school student in Mendocino, California or Mendoza, Argentina will now have access to the same materials as the Columbia student in Morningside Heights. It also makes pulling these gems off the shelf a considerably lighter load to carry.