Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Praise for Google Scholar, worries for Google Print

Marcus Banks, The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google Print, Biomemdical Digital Libraries, March 22, 2005. Excerpt: 'This commentary describes exciting educational possibilities stimulated by Google Scholar, and argues for caution regarding the Google Print project....The educational effort about Scholar has already begun. The Georgia State University Libraries have developed a straightforward web page, which includes a search box for Scholar, the library’s e-journal list, and the library catalog. It is easy to foresee this page blossoming into a class about using Scholar, one goal of which might be to increase patron appreciation for the challenge of providing access to electronic scholarship. As patrons use Scholar and discover the barriers to obtaining research articles, they could be more receptive to the argument for open access publishing....At first blush I was swept up by the positive publicity surrounding [Google Print], because it is inspiring to contemplate the democratization of knowledge that has previously been sequestered inside some of the world’s leading research libraries. After I read Rory Litwin’s essay, "On Google’s Monetization of Libraries," I was forced to tamper my enthusiasm. Litwin argues that the e-commerce foundations of Google Print are antithetical to the principles of librarianship. Until now a library's resources have served as their own advertisement, but now they will become a vehicle for selling something else....Another concern about Google Print, as Litwin points out, is that it flattens the distinctions between materials that are used for different purposes. A chief reason universities select resources is because of their enduring value for scholarship; a chief reason Amazon stocks books is to make money. Google Print collapses this difference. My search for "gardening" might link to a priceless treatise by Linnaeus just above a link to Martha Stewart's annual review....My fear is that Google will reject such ideas [for mitigating the problems identified in Google Print], on the grounds that the library community knew what it was getting into. And Google would be right. In the admirable desire to improve access to their collections, some of our best libraries may have struck a Faustian bargain.' (Thanks to LIS News.)