As part of the Google Books Library Project, Google has hooked up with the University of Minnesota and 11 other US universities to digitise up to 10 million bound book volumes.

The Google Books Library project is part of the larger Google Books Search project. Google aims to create an online catalogue of books along with details of how to buy or borrow them.

Google will digitise significant portions of many of the books in the 12 universities' libraries. Collectively the universities make up the US CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation). The universities will provide Google with specialised content to be digitised.

For books that are not under copyright - generally books published prior to 1923 - or where the publisher has given permission, the entire book is made available online under the Google Books Library program. For the rest, Google offers excerpts from the books.

Google will fund the digitisation of up to 10 million volumes in the CIC collections; each of the CIC organizations will cover the costs of preparing the books for digitisation. The University of Minnesota estimated the value of the partnership - in which Google will cover the costs of digitising 1 million volumes at its library - at up to $60 million.

"The University of Minnesota is making history today," said University of Minnesota Provost Thomas Sullivan in a statement. "For our students and researchers, speedy access to printed volumes will change the face and pace of scholarly research. Digitising these collections is also a public good and supports the land-grant mission of the University of Minnesota."

Wendy Pradt Lougee, librarian at the University of Minnesota and member of the six-person team that negotiated the six-year agreement with Google, said that the company's capacity for digitizing the books will far exceed the capability of any of the CIC universities individually. In addition, she described the project as one of the largest cooperative projects of its kind in higher education.

Latest Google news:

Firefox and Google combine to block malware

Google slams Microsoft web security

Google buys server company Peakstream tries to take on Google… again