Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Google Versus the Library - Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Word is spreading far and wide about today's press release from Google: Google Checks Out Library Books. Google has made agreements with a number of prominent libraries to digitize large portions of their book collections.

Google co-founder Larry Page quoted in the press release: "Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and we're excited to be working with libraries to help make this mission a reality." Well, apparently the library world is excited about this prospect also.

Here are the related headlines from around the world courtesy of (who else?) Google News: News about Google.

I particularly like the write-up in the New York Times: Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database". (You will need to register for a free NYTimes password if you don't have one already. Which leads me to ask: why don't you?) The second page in particular includes a discussion of how this could potentially affect libraries, with roles changing from storehousing and indexing of printed materials to organizing and retaining digitized materials. Looks like the experience of law libraries and other specialized libraries could be increasingly felt in academic and public circles as well. If it isn't already, which really would be hard to believe.

Perhaps what we are most thrilled about is the world apparently excited about accessing library materials that, for the most part, have been forgotten in this Age of Google. Which, if it really happens, would be a good thing. After all, there was life before 1996. It may be difficult to remember, but that is what the Library is there for, isn't it?

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