Yale Library and Microsoft Partner on Ambitious Digital Project

Readers around the world will soon have online access to thousands of rare books in Yale’s Library thanks to an agreement between the University and Microsoft Corp to digitize many volumes found only in the Yale collections.

Readers around the world will soon have online access to thousands of rare books in Yale’s Library thanks to an agreement between the University and Microsoft Corp to digitize many volumes found only in the Yale collections.

The Microsoft-Yale project will initially focus on the digitization of 100,000 out-of-copyright English-language books, which will then become available to readers through Microsoft’s Live Search interface (http://books.live.com).

“This use of technology permits the University to share its scholarly resources with a wider community of students and scholars than ever before,” said Yale University President Richard C. Levin.

“Yale’s position as one of the world’s leading research libraries makes it appropriate that we should be providing global digital access to increasing quantities of our rare and unique material,” said Alice Prochaska, Yale’s University Librarian.  “This exciting partnership with Microsoft gives us the platform to do so.”

The Library and Microsoft have selected Kirtas Technologies to carry out the process based on their proven excellence and state-of-the art equipment.  The Library has successfully worked with Kirtas previously, and the company will establish a digitization center in the New Haven area.

“This is a significant alliance for Microsoft, and we look forward to collaborating with the Yale University Library,” said Danielle Tiedt, General Manager of the Live Search Books Selection team at Microsoft Corp. “The Library has a wealth of materials in its general and special collections, and we are delighted to help bring these treasures to the attention of a broader audience.”

Yale University Library holds unique collections of enduring research value and is digitizing many of its special collections including manuscripts, archival documents, maps, photographs, audio and visual materials, rare works of art, and slides used for teaching and research at the University.  Hundreds of thousands of items have already been digitized from the holdings of the Visual Resources Collection, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Lewis Walpole Library, Manuscripts and Archives, the Medical Historical Library, and other libraries and collections. Many of these are now available to the global research community beyond Yale.  A comprehensive listing of the Library’s digital collections is available at: http://www.library.yale.edu/libraries/digcoll.html.

This newest initiative is expected to produce substantial benefits for the Yale community and for researchers worldwide.  These include: being able to reunite collections virtually that are physically housed in different repositories; allowing the full text to be indexed, which enables researchers to locate relevant material not accessible through traditional indexes or library catalogues; giving faculty enhanced electronic access to scholarly materials; and increasing student access to digital research and instructional materials.

Digital files can be used to integrate research material with online teaching services and with inter-institutional collaborative projects, such as the Live Search Books program with the British Library, Cornell University, and the Universities of California and Toronto.

 The digital format also provides security by eliminating handling of original rare or fragile material, and securing against loss through normal deterioration, theft, natural disaster, or other destructive events.

The project will maintain rigorous standards established by the Yale Library and Microsoft for the quality and usability of the digital content, and for the safe and careful handling of the physical books. Yale and Microsoft will work together to identify which of the approximately 13  million volumes held by Yale’s 22  libraries will be digitized.  Books selected for digitization will remain available for use by students and researchers in their physical form.  Digital copies of the books will also be preserved by the Yale Library for use in future academic initiatives and in collaborative scholarly ventures.

About Yale University Library

One of the world’s leading research libraries, Yale University Library is a full partner in teaching, research, and learning at Yale and is visited by scholars from around the world.  A distinctive strength is its rich spectrum of resources, including approximately 13 million volumes and information in all media, ranging from ancient papyri to early printed books to electronic databases.  The Library is engaging in numerous projects to expand access to its physical and digital collections.  Housed in 22 buildings including the Sterling Memorial Library and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, it employs a dynamic staff of nearly six hundred who offer innovative and flexible services to library readers.  To learn more about Yale University Library and its collections and services, visit www.library.yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345