January 19, 2022

Google Begins to Scale Back Its Scanning of Books From University Libraries, What About Google Scholar?

By Jennifer Howard at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Google has been quietly slowing down its book-scanning work with partner libraries, according to librarians involved with the vast Google Books digitization project. But what that means for the company’s long-term investment in the work remains unclear.

Google was not willing to say much about its plans. “We’ve digitized more than 20 million books to date and continue to scan books with our library partners,” a Google spokeswoman told TheChronicle in an e-mailed statement.


Google isn’t saying whether it has pulled back from its longstanding goal of collecting all of the world’s knowledge. Some of its digitization efforts have shifted to Europe. Much of the company’s public focus lately has been not on mass digitization but on how to use individuals’ data to create more focused advertising and online browsing. Meanwhile, a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought against it by authors’ and publishers’ groups drags on. Hathi­Trust and five universities, including Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s, face their own challenge from the Authors Guild and other groups over control of the scanned works.

Read the Complete Article
Includes Comments from Paul Courant, U. of Michigan
Fred Heath, University of Texas
Edward V. Van Gemer, University of Wisconsin


As the article notes, Google is not talking about it’s long term book digitization plans. No surprise there. Time will tell. Hopefully, the Google Book digitization program will come to and end with little notice similar to how Google’s newspaper digitization program ended last May.

What we would also like to know:
1. Is Google still working to improve metadata quality of what has already been scanned and is already searchable or will soon be searchable?
2. Are they developing any new access tools or feature to access book content?
3. What about the future of Google Scholar? Where does it stand on Google’s list of priorities?
Since Jan. 2011 we haven’t read much about about new, improved, or enhanced features. Some of we have read has dealt with access to legal info via Scholar.

Google Scholar News (January 2011- )

+ Google Scholar Citations (July 2011)
||| GS Citations (November 2011) ||| Find/Follow Public Profiles (January 2012)

+ Search Opinions from Specific Courts (January 2011)
||| Better Highlighting of Cases (February 2011) ( ||| How Legal Opinions are Presented (March 2012)

Meanwhile, as we have chronicled on INFOdocket, Microsoft’s Academic Search product continues to grow in terms of overall size and innovative features.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.