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9/17/2008 volume 1 issue 1

Google Targets Indiana for First CIC Collection of Distinction

Collections of Distinction Library ImageAs Moira Smith sees it, the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Collection at Indiana University Bloomington Libraries was a very appropriate choice to be the first “collection of distinction” digitized as part of the CIC's agreement with Google.

“It’s folklore, we want to be populist about it. Folklore belongs to the people,” said Smith, who possesses a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana and is the Collection's specialist librarian and site manager. “That’s where it comes from. We’re just giving it back.”
Highlighting specific nationally renowned collections is one of the unique features of the CIC's partnership with Google's Book Search project.

The CIC's arrangement with Google provides that the search engine giant will digitize up to 10 million volumes from 11 of the consortium's university libraries, over and above content being digitized by Michigan and Wisconsin under separate agreements.  

“It’s not just a matter of digitizing a lot of titles or even a lot of unique titles – things that Google didn’t have from other places,” said Mark Sandler, director of the CIC’s Center for Library Initiatives. “A lot of our schools, like research libraries everywhere, have a handful of collections that they have given special attention to curating over decades. These collections of distinction are built as a service to scholarship nationally and internationally. It’s not just that they are bigger than other library collections, but it’s also important that they are more intellectually coherent in support of particular areas of research.”

The CIC believes that it is a service to scholarship to keep print collection of distinctions intact as they are made digitally accessible online. Public domain content will be available to read online freely; in-copyright content will be indexed so a reader can determine which works match his interests. 

Folklore is broadly defined as the informal but artistic and ritualized parts of every day life, a hybrid of the humanities and the social sciences. The Indiana University Folklore and Ethnomusicology Collection has been nurtured and developed uninterrupted since 1920. At 51,000 volumes, the collection now claims to be the largest of its kind in North America. It is unknown how long it will take for the entire collection to be digitized, but the process began late this summer and progress is steady.

It is exciting to librarians and users alike that the collection will no longer be tucked away on the seventh floor of the IU Research Collections – it now will be available to a much wider audience.

“When people have a question that has to do with folklore eventually they will find us, and we see it as our mission to respond,” said Smith. “(This) is just going to expand on that aspect of the collection even more.”