Friday, August 28, 2009

Google Book Search? Try Google Library; CBS News, 8/27/09

CNet's Tom Krazit via CBS News; Google Book Search? Try Google Library:

Plan to Bring Millions of Books Online Raises Concerns over Privacy, Quality and Motive

"There's a sense among several of those planning to speak at Friday's conference that an Internet corporation--even one sworn to "do no evil"--does not necessarily share the same values and principles that librarians rabidly defend. And left unsaid, but by no means absent, is the growing scrutiny paid this year to Google's dominant position in the Internet search market and how that power squares with Google Books and the publishing industry...

Universities do have an alternative in the HathiTrust, a digital library project that counts UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan--also a close partner of Google's--among its partners. That service lacks the scope of what Google is potentially entitled to scan, but it curates the material in a fashion that's better suited to the needs of the academic community.

That's good, because at the moment, Google Book Search is almost laughably unusable for serious research, UC Berkeley's Nunberg said. For example, he pointed out that the Charles Dickens classic "A Tale of Two Cities" is listed in Google Book Search as having been published in 1800; Dickens was born in 1812.

Nunberg plans to speak out on the quality issues with Google Book Search, although he readily concedes that the product was not designed for the needs of academics and scholars. But that only underscores the point: if Google Book Search is the only way to obtain a digital copy of a book 100 years into the future, scholars will have to depend on it for research, he said...

"There's a lot of questions about how they will balance (their) mandate as a for-profit corporation and their mission to provide universal access to information," [ALA's Angela] Maycock said. If it really wants to make the controversy over this settlement go away, Google needs to embrace "the ethical framework that libraries operate under," she said."

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