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Google Halts its Newspaper Digitalization Project

After scanning and indexing over 3.5 million issues from over 2,000 newspapers, Google has decided to halt its news digitalization project. The search giant announced the halt in an email  sent out to newspapers involved in the project, saying that they would be focusing instead on their Google One Pass subscription service.

Though Google is no longer accepting microfilm or issues for scanning, they have announced their intention to keep the archives free and available online at http://news.google.com/archivesearch. They will also be waiving the planned fee newspapers would have paid to receive copies of the digital archives for hosting on their own sites. For many newspapers, though, Google did not complete the process leaving the digital archives incomplete.

While newspapers are likely pleased to get digitized volumes for free, the end of the project could mean that sections of their archives will never be available online. Carly Carioli at the Boston Phoenix downplayed such losses in a blog post saying that while the project was valuable, some newspapers were frustrated with the slow pace of the project. Carioli also speculated as to Google’s motivations on halting┬ádigitalization could spring from the difficulty in indexing the archives, since newspapers use unique layout techniques and page jumps between columns. He writes:

Here’s two wild guesses [as to why Google halted the project]: the process may have turned out to be harder than Google anticipated. Or it may have turned out that the resulting pages drew far fewer eyeballs than anyone expected.

For newspapers hoping to get their archives digitized, they’ll have to seek out a new company to do the work. Hopefully someone will step in and take up that role soon.

(Phoenix Blog, Cnet via Slashdot, Yahoo News)

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