Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

More on the Google library project

The Electronic Library, an unsigned editorial in the New York Times, December 21, 2004. Excerpt: 'The idea of making books available online is not new, but this plan represents an enormous shift in scale, so enormous that if it is carried out successfully, it may redefine the nature of the Internet and the university. The library is the heart of every university, and one of the basic tasks a university performs is to preserve books and control access to them. No matter how liberally a university chooses to define "access," its books are restricted by geography at the very least. Google wants to make the books it scans [PS: just the public-domain books] freely available in searchable, full-text forms to anyone, anywhere, with an Internet connection. It will also provide information for finding the nearest copy of the real physical book. The prospect is inherently enticing, especially to anyone who has ever worked in a major research library....A participating library will get a free digital copy of every book scanned in its collection. In other words, each library will essentially get a digital backup of a significant portion of its holdings, but it will be critical to remember that printed books are a stable medium, one that has persisted for hundreds of years. Digital technology is only a few years old, and even in that brief time, the digital world has produced dozens of incompatible, and often unreadable, media formats. The Google project will enhance the usefulness of the books it encompasses, but it in no way will render them obsolete.'