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The Google Settlement – From the Universal Library to the Universal Bookstore

If you think about it, a universal bookstore is a pretty cool idea. Bookstores are wonderful things. Anyone can walk into bookstore, take a book off a shelf, read in it, decide whether to buy it or forget about it, or get it from the library. The settlement announced today by Google, the Association of […]

Benefits, Costs, and Googleization: A Comment on Siva Vaidhyanathan

In a recent issue of Publisher’s Weekly.com, my friend Siva Vaidhyanathan characterized my support of the Google Books Project in ways that I must take issue with.  (He also said many things that are  insightful, wise and witty, and the whole interview is worth reading.) Here’s the part that motivates this post: PW: But Michigan […]

Orphan Works Legislation and the Google Settlement

I spent Friday at a fascinating conference at the Columbia University Law School, on the subject of (what else?) the Google settlement. Lead counsel from all three parties, lots of other lawyers, several princpals, publishers, authors and librarians were there. I learned something important that at some level I already knew. The most important single […]

Google, Robert Darnton, and the Digital Republic of Letters

Robert Darnton recently published an essay in the New York Review of Books on the Google settlement. There has been much commentary in blogs, listserves, and print media. Below I reproduce a letter that I sent to the New York Review of Books, that they found to be far too long to publish. It is […]

On being in bed with Google

One of the things that surprises me most about reactions to the Google Library Project is that smart people whom I respect seem to think that the only reason that a university library would be involved with Google is because, in some combination, its leadership is stupid, evil, or at best intellectually lazy. To the […]

“Less than perfect” is not always bad

In a recent paper prepared for the Boston Library Consortium, Richard Johnson decries the fact that some mass digitization arrangements between libraries and corporations have been “less than perfect.” The choices that we face are indeed less than perfect. We can choose purity and perfection, and not permit any restrictions on the use of scans […]

Teaching School

Paul Duguid’s comment on an earlier post of mine gets to important issues that I expect to discuss repeatedly (although not repetitiously) in this space. Among the big questions that he raises are these two: (1) How good a job will Google Book Search do? (2) What are the consequences that flow from the answer […]

A National Digital Library?

My friend and colleague Robert Darnton, Director of the Harvard University Library, has lately been championing the creation of a National Digital Library (for background, see this, and this), and I wholeheartedly support any plan that coordinates the efforts of our nation’s foundations and research and cultural institutions toward providing ubiquitous and permanent digital access […]

Digitization and accessibility

From the very beginning, one of the most exciting possibilities of the Google Digitization Project was its potential to open up vast stores of text to a group of users to whom it had previously been inaccessible: people with visual impairments and print disabilities. Before Google (B.G.), students and scholars who wanted access to the […]

Microsoft Exits the Mass Digitization Business

Last week Microsoft announced that it will cease its Live Search program and the associated programs of mass digitization that it has been undertaking with many libraries. The response in the library world has generally been one of resigned sadness that the only big player other than Google is getting out of the free (to […]