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Universal access to books

The Million Book Project, an international undertaking led by Carnegie Mellon University, has reached the milestone of having digitized 1.5 million books. The project seeks to digitize the published works of humankind so they are available electronically, free of charge. The ultimate goal is to make all published works available to anyone at any time and in any language.

In a news release at its Web site, Carnegie Mellon reports that for the first time since the project began in 2002, all of the digitized books can be accessed through a single Web portal, The Universal Digital Library Collection.

In a news release announcing its part in the project, ABBYY reports that its FineReader OCR technology was selected for the book scanning project because of its accuracy and support for multiple languages. According to ABBYY, its software is especially suited to book scanning, because it intelligently corrects for curved book pages and provides digital camera OCR capabilities.

Thus far, ABBYY says, the project has converted books published in 20 languages, including 970,000 in Chinese; 360,000 in English; 50,000 in the southern Indian language of Telugu; and 40,000 in Arabic.

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