WASHINGTON -- The National Academies today announced the completion of the first phase of a partnership with Google to digitize the library's collection of reports from 1863 to 1997, making them available – free, searchable, and in full text – through Google Book Search. The Academies plan to have their entire collection of nearly 11,000 reports digitized by 2011.
"Much has changed since the National Academy of Sciences began advising the government in the late 1800s," said Victoria Harriston, manager of library and information services at the National Academies' George E. Brown Jr. Library. "Our early reports are essential to understanding the scientific advances made in this country as well as the science and technology issues the government struggled with in the 19th and 20th centuries."
Notable reports from the library's archives that are now available include:
Prior to this project, the Academies digitized more than 4,000 books and made them available online through the National Academies Press; most of those can also be found in Google Book Search. However, researchers who needed to gain access to hard copies of older reports, part of a legacy collection in the library, could not always find what they wanted. Many of these reports exist as single copies, and the library feared potential damage or loss of this important collection. These older reports have been digitized and are now accessible through Google. In addition, the "digitizing of these materials will add another dimension to the preservation of our reports," said Harriston. The Academies hope that wider availability of its reports will be of use to scientists in developing countries, who often rely on the Internet to gather information.
The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
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