Today the University of Michigan Library is celebrating a significant milestone: We have just put the one millionth book digitized from our collections online. (I recommend clicking on the link. The page is pretty cool.) As far as I know Michigan is the first library to have one million books from its own collections digitized and available for search (and, when in the public domain, available for viewing.)
One million is a big number, but this is just the beginning. Michigan is on track to digitize its entire collection of over 7.5 million bound volumes by early in the next decade. So far we have only glimpsed the kinds of new and innovative uses that can be made of large bodies of digitized books, and it is thrilling to imagine what will be possible when nearly all the holdings of a leading research library are digitized and searchable from any computer in the world.
Yesterday the Library had a party to recognize the all the people who made this milestone possible. A lot of books have to be barcoded, moved, and moved again in order for a project like this to work, and there are many parts of the process where people could simply have questioned whether the effort was worth it. To the enormous credit of our library, there has been tremendous enthusiasm for both the work and its purposes. We all eagerly await (and it won’t be long) the next million, and the millions after that.