[WEB4LIB] Re: Google Print as the library's mission
kcoyle at kcoyle.net
Tue Dec 21 12:59:40 EST 2004
On Tue, 2004-12-21 at 09:02, Sloan, Bernie wrote:
> "Guaranteed longevity"? Do any of our services really have guaranteed
While it may be hard to "guarantee" longevity many library services do
have that as their goal. That's why research libraries keep around all
of those books that haven't been checked out for over 50 years, and work
to preserve brittle and decaying materials. These books are, in some
sense, a waste of shelf space, and any entity whose main goal is
present-day efficiency would just get rid of them. Libraries occupy an
information space that has a kind of geologic view of time.
> You said "Google ultimately provides a service only as long as their
> investors can be convinced that it's in their interest." Isn't that the
> case with any of the commercial services libraries offer to their users?
Yes, and it's of great concern. That's why services like JSTOR are of
great value because they move the "back list" into a non-profit space
that is dedicated to the academic viewpoint rather than the commercial
viewpoint. I know that at the U of California many of the contracts
negotiated with aggregators attempted to have a clause similar to that
which many libraries had with netLibrary: anything you pay for today
will always be available, even if that means giving the digital file to
the library to manage on its own.
Digital longevity should be viewed similar to the way that we view the
issue of analog longevity. Books go out of print not too long after they
first hit the bookstore shelves, but they persist in libraries. If we
relied on publishers to preserve our cultural heritage... well, our
history books would be pamphlets. It's not unreasonable to insist that
we get to play the same role with digital materials. I've been known to
warn that this early digital age, where we haven't worked out these
issues, may turn out to be a kind of digital "dark ages" when seen from
the future. But I know that enough people are thinking about this that
it has a chance to be resolved.
Note that the libraries participating in Google Print are receiving
their own copies of the digital files. I will be very interested to see
if they begin to provide their own services around those files. This
part of the project is the one that has the greatest potential in my
eyes. (And I bet there will be a way to do an author search!)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: web4lib at webjunction.org
> [mailto:web4lib at webjunction.org] On Behalf Of Thomas Dowling
> Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 10:47 AM
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: [WEB4LIB] Re: Google Print as the library's mission
> Karen Coyle wrote:
> > ...if it's a library service then I
> > would want it to be bound by the same rules as other library services,
> > in terms of accessibility, privacy, and other service values.
> And guaranteed longevity. Google ultimately provides a service only as
> long as their investors can be convinced that it's in their interest.
> Get your users hooked on it today, and there's no solid promise that it
> will be there tomorrow.
Digital Library Specialist
Ph: 510-540-7596 Fax: 510-848-3913
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