Collaborate, Create, Communicate

CGIAR teams up with Google to expand the reach of agricultural research

When the custodians of years of research team up with the most popular Internet search engine in the world, you can expect something extraordinary to happen.

Imagine if you could search over 2,000 books, more than 50,000 pages from books published by the largest agricultural research consortium in the world; browse that library online and immediately download the full text of any book or order a print copy with a few clicks of a mouse … Well, imagine no more, because you can now do just that!

Over the years, the individual CGIAR Centers have amassed significant libraries that reflect the results of CGIAR agricultural research across the globe. Until recently, though, many of the scientific titles contained within these collections (books that cover research on fisheries, livestock, forestry, plant genetics, water management, food policy and the cultivation of food crops, among others) have only been accessible to a limited readership. Today, all of that has changed, and CGIAR publications are now collectively available at one of the biggest searchable online libraries.

CGBooks, a collaborative effort involving CGIAR Information Managers, Web Managers and Google staff, has effectively expanded the reach of CGIAR research, simply by making publications instantly searchable over the Internet. In addition, having the option of searching the thousands of CGIAR publications available through the CGVlibrary further increases the access to CGIAR research results.

In the beginning

In 2005, CGIAR Centers began turning over their books to Google Book Search (GBS) for scanning – a huge undertaking that was funded entirely by Google. Later, when it was suggested that the Centers come together to create an overall CGBooks search, the idea was greeted with enthusiasm. There are now thousands of titles taking the results of CGIAR research to thousands of users around the globe.

Google’s Reach

Over 100 Google Book sites bring visitors from all over the world to the CGIAR Web sites – see diagram below.

The increased geographic spread that GBS accords CGIAR publications means that some Centers are now selling books in new markets across the globe. Relevant publications are also easier to find, because GBS searches deep into every page of every book, word by word.

A mutually beneficial arrangement

The CGIAR Centers feel that having a presence on Google Books is beneficial to all parties concerned. The non-exclusive CGBooks association with Google is a win-win situation for everyone: the CGIAR System as a whole, individual Centers, and Google itself as it strives to make the world’s books available to everyone.

Enrica Porcari, CGIAR Chief Information Officer and Leader of the ICT-KM Program, has this to say about CGBooks: “I am happy to see such a successful collaboration. Once again, the community of CGIAR Information Managers, the same people who made the CGVlibrary possible, has worked successfully with others to help bring our publications to a bigger readership. CGBooks also connects to our CIARD pathways, which show us how we can make our research outputs more available, accessible and applicable, all necessary steps if we are to put research results in the hands of those who need them. Of course, at the same time, we are helping Google achieve its goal of becoming the largest library in the world.”

To be part of the largest online library is something that will surely benefit everyone.

Click here to read an extended report on CGBooks that includes excerpts from interviews with the CGIAR staff behind this exciting endeavor.