Google Books Library Project Timeline: What am I missing?

UPDATE: This version of the timeline has been superseded. New version here: New Google Books Library Project Timeline: Now With (more) Citations! (Thanks for all the input!)

I’ve been working on finishing up the pre-writing for my last two dissertation case chapters, and yesterday I put together this timeline of the Google Books Library Project, based on a mix of data from my interviews and from other primary and secondary sources. I thought I’d throw it up here to see if anybody out there on the interwebs might see anything that’s glaringly missing and should be there. (Plus, I figured there was a chance that others might find it useful, even in its current sketchy form.)

There are a few things in particular which, looking at what I already have, I’d love to know/put dates to, if anyone knows them offhand (otherwise I’m sure I can dig most of them up somewhere…maybe even in my own EndNote library…):

  • When did the first library-scanned book go live on the Google site? (I’m guessing sometime in 2005, but a month would be cool.)
  • When did each library start offering access to their Google scans through their OPAC, if they have done so? (I have a date for NYPL, but not the others)
  • Where outside the U.S. did/does Google have scanning centers? When did each close, if it has?
  • Where was the Google scanning center on the East coast? I assume there was one nearer to Harvard & NYPL than Ann Arbor, but perhaps that’s not the case?
  • The 30 million volumes figure at the bottom comes from a recent NYRB article by Darnton, and it’s uncited there – does anyone know a more official source for it? (I believe it, it’d just be nice to have something more solid.)

So here goes:

1996 Backrub, precursor to PageRank, developed based on principles/ideas from scholarly publishing/citation linking
1998 Google search engine launches
2001 First talks between Larry Page and librarians at the University of Michigan
2002 Talks underway in earnest at UM and Stanford; Larry Page still personally involved; Monthly calls btw Google & UM
2003 Oxford, NYPL, Harvard brought in on discussions
2003 (December) Google Print publisher project first publicly discussed
2004 (Spring) Contracts signed with G5 libraries
2004 Pilot scanning at U. of Michigan; role of library partnerships manager(s) created
2004 (August 19) Google IPO (August 19)
2004 (December 14) Google Print Library Project announced (Harvard internally 1 day before everyone else)
2005 Scanning begins at G5 libraries (Stanford = March); Google starts building out additional scanning centers
2005? Dan Clancy hired to manage project
2005 (September-October) Lawsuits filed by AG, AAP
2005 (November) Google changes name of project to Google Book Search
2006 Google hits 1 million volumes; rate of scanning increases; Doug Kuch hired to run logistics for GBLP
2006 Partners added: U of California (August), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (September), U of Wisconsin (October), U of Virginia (November)
2007 Partners added: U of Texas (January), Princeton (February),Bavarian State Library (March), Lausanne (May), Ghent (May), Mysore (May), CIC (June), Keio (July), Cornell (August), Columbia (December)
2007 NYPL begins to offer access to its scans via its catalog
2008 Google finishes scanning materials from Harvard and Oxford
2008 (February) University of Michigan reaches 1 million books scanned
2008 (October) Settlement Agreement first proposed; HathiTrust Launched
2008 (November) Google reaches 7 million volumes (6 million from libraries)
2009 (July) Partner added: Biblioteca de Catalunya
2009 (November) Revised Settlement Agreement put forward; some library contracts revised in its wake (in anticipation of its approval)
2009 (December) French court loss; no more scanning in-copyright books in France
2010 Partners added: Italian Ministry of Culture (March), Austrian National Library (June), Dutch National Library (July)
2010 (June) Google reaches 12 million volumes
2011 Partners added: Czech National Library (February), British Library (June)
2011 (March) Settlement Agreement rejected by court
2011 (October) Google shuts down Mountain View scanning center, leaving Ann Arbor as the sole remaining scanning center in the United States; rate of scanning decreased
2012 (January) HathiTrust reaches 10 million volumes
2012 (March) Google reaches 20 million volumes
2013 (April) Google reaches 30 million volumes

*Updates since first posting are noted in pink*


14 thoughts on “Google Books Library Project Timeline: What am I missing?

    • Yes, I am aware that the facts are not sourced here. It is not that I do not have sources for them, or that I would not source them in the dissertation (I clearly will); it’s just that this was only a quick blog post to see if there were items missing. (And indeed, the 2003 date for the publisher project is a good addition, thank you for that!)

      Perhaps I will eventually add source info to the blog version, but perhaps not. It is, after all, just a blog, and I do intend to publish this more formally elsewhere at a later point (once it is more complete). Since you mention the Harvard announcement, though, I will say, that is a fact that I got from my interviews with project participants (librarians at Google 5 institutions). Harvard insisted on announcing the project to their University community the day before the agreed-upon date; this is confirmed by a quick glance at the dates on Google’s announcement of the project vs. Harvard’s largely internal – yet public – announcement.

      Thank you for your suggestions!

  1. Interesting are the data on the scan centers on which public information is nearly impossible to find (at least, as I guess, via Google websearch …)

    I cannot believe that Google has scanned 10 millions books in a month …

    It would be nice to know how many Google-digitized books are in HathiTrust because this might be the only Google-independent number one can reach.

    There are beside HathiTrust European library sites with Google scans: Munich, Gent, Oxford and Den Haag (Vienna planned).

    The list of partners is incomplete. It seems that

    is the only complete list on the web.

    • They’ve scanned 10 million in a year, not a month, if Darnton’s figures are accurate (March 2012 to April 2013). I would actually believe that, in part because they tend to be slow to release “official” numbers – so they probably actually hit 20 million long before they announced it to the public.

      I will likely add some basic info about HathiTrust to the timeline (initial announcement, live launch), but not too much, as my focus really is just the Google Books Library Project. One must limit scope somehow…

      The list of libraries you link to is interesting, and not one I’d seen (likely due to the language barrier). I’ll have to look and see if I can put dates to the ones currently missing.

      • If I have’nt overlooked something the NASA library on the Vienna list is the only US partner library not cooperating with HahthiTrust. The NASA OPAC isn’t available here and I was unable to finde more information on the Google cooperation.

        2012/3 My mistake, sorry.

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