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Google Shuts Down Ambitious Newspaper Scanning Project

newspaper-scanGoogle’s ambitious effort to digitize the world’s newspaper archives and make them available online has come to an end.

The project launched in 2008, and it currently has digitized material from what looks like about 2,000 newspapers — including the Milwaukee Sentinel, whose July 21, 1969 front page is shown at right.

But rumors have been circulating that this move was coming, and a Google spokesperson gave us this statement confirming the shut down tonight:

We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online. These have included publications like the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995.

Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at http://news.google.com/archivesearch, but we don’t plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing.

According to the Boston Phoenix, one of the newspapers that was giving Google its archives for scanning and indexing online, Google emailed its partners on Thursday to announce that the program was coming to an end so Google could concentrate instead on “newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites.”

The Phoenix also says that Google is giving back to its newspaper partners the content that Google has already scanned. But it won’t add that content to its news archive going forward. Newspapers that have their own digital archives can still add material to Google’s news archive via sitemaps. They’re also free to take the material that Google has scanned for them and work with other partners to get it online.

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