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Google adds library texts to search database

First major expansion of Google Print database includes full text of more than 10,000 books no longer under copyright.

Google said Wednesday that it had completed the first major expansion of its Google Print database of searchable books, adding the full text of more than 10,000 works that are no longer under copyright, culled from the collections of four major research libraries.

The additions, from the university libraries at Michigan, Harvard and Stanford and from the New York Public Library, represent the first large group of material to be made available electronically from those libraries, which along with Oxford University contracted with Google last year to let the company scan and make searchable the contents of much or all of their collections.

The new material includes works of literature, like "Transatlantic Sketches" and other works by Henry James, from Harvard; government documents, like the collected appropriations bills passed by the 50th Congress in 1888 and 1889, from Stanford; history, like the 1903 work, "The Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War," by William P. Hopkins, from the University of Michigan; and biographies, like the New York Public Library's collection of the annual publication, "The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York."

The entire text of the works can be searched and read online through the Google Print site. Users can also save individual pages and cut and paste excerpts from the material. The ability to print is currently limited, however, to single pages at a time, said Adam Smith, a senior business product manager at Google.

The newly available materials are part of a program that has brought Google under fire from many of the same publishers that are its partners in another, related program, under which publishers offer new books to Google to scan and allow searching, in the hope that Google users will be prompted to discover and buy the books.

But members of trade groups representing authors and publishers have sued to stop Google from scanning copyrighted works in the library collections. Many of those works are out of print or otherwise inaccessible to most potential users.

Google temporarily stopped the scanning of copyrighted material this summer to allow publishers and authors to "opt out" of the program if their works were in those libraries. But both groups objected, saying that it is Google that must first obtain permission to copy materials. Google said this week that it would resume scanning copyrighted works as of Nov. 1.