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Several major research libraries in the us have rebuffed offers from Google to scan their books into computer databases. The libraries, including a large consortium in Boston, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort to make digital material as widely accessible as possible.
Libraries that agree to work with Google do so on Google's terms, which involve access to the material only through the Google search engine, as well as restrictions on how much can be downloaded. But there are financial benefits and many prominent libraries including the New York Public Library and libraries at Harvard and Stanford have accepted the offer.
But the resistance suggests that many have an alternate vision of the Web. "We understand the commercial value of what Google is doing, but we want to be able to distribute materials in a way where everyone benefits from it," said Bernard Margolis, president of the Boston Public Library. Adam Smith, management director of Google Book Search, said the company welcomed other scanning projects such as the Open Content Alliance.