The librarians at the University of Michigan/Google book digitization project – called the "MBook Project" – had cause to celebrate on Friday as they digitized the millionth book in their collection, leaving just 6.5 million more to go. Michigan is one of the only institutions partnering with Google to agree to scan every one of its holdings — even those that are still covered by copyright. The MBooks project provides full text of works that are in the public domain, creating new ways for users to search and access U-M Library content (anyone can access this digital content). Materials that are currently in copyright are available for searching on-line, allowing users to assess the contents of a book before deciding whether to purchase it or borrow it from the library. Are there any govdocs in the collection? A quick search in their catalog did turn up some govdocs, beautifully digitized. I went to the Mirlyn library catalog (very nice OPAC, btw) and did an Advanced Search using keyword Subcommittee AND Titleword =Congress AND titleword= Hearing* and searched just the format= Electronic Resource (according to their FAQ, that’s the way to find the MBook content). I got 3064 hits ranging in date from 1896 to 2007 – for example, this 1935 digitized hearing before "a subcommittee of the Committee on military affairs, United States Senate, 74th Congress, on S. 1404, a bill to promote the efficiency of national defense." We don’t even have the microfiche in my law library.
So the good news is that there are digitized Congressional hearings freely available to the public in the MBook project. For some reason, though, I have found that a number of them, like this 1924 hearing, come up as "Search Only: Page images and full text of this item are not available due to copyright restrictions." I thought there weren’t any copyright restrictions on government documents.
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