Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Follow-up to "The Google Project continues to grow"

A couple days ago I wrote about the latest partners to the Google book digitization project. Yesterday, Roy Tennant also blogged about this. He noted:
To this point, the only Google partner library to aggressively mount the digitized books in its own repository has been the University of Michigan. Therefore, it surprises no one that the University of Michigan, which had already developed their MBooks platform for its own digitized books, will serve as the central repository for the CIC project.
That was a connection in the story that I had not seen, so thanks Roy for pointing it out.

Later he wrote:
This project raises the bar for the other libraries participating in mass digitization projects. Most of the libraries cooperating with Google are making no effort to mount the resulting files themselves. Some may not even be keeping a copy of the files. I think it is disturbing that we don't even know how true that statement might be.
It is disturbing that these libraries are relying so heavily on Google to digitize the materials and make them available. Libraries have gotten burned by companies/vendors in the past that made bold promised then didn't keep them. I'm not saying that Google won't be around forever, but is their future really guaranteed? And will the digitized materials be maintained always as these libraries hope it will be? I hope someone at every Google partner institution has considered those questions.


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3 comments:

Richard L. Hess said...

The other side of the coin is will the library be around forever. I realize there are differences between research libraries and popular libraries, but the story of the San Francisco library dumpstering tens of thousands of books a decade ago and other libraries -- down to local school libraries -- discarding books on a regular basis makes me wonder.

Apparently some libraries have a requirement that if the book isn't circulated in X number of years, it goes. I own many books that I obtained inexpensively via that path and some are essential reference works for my work.

A friend who recalls the pre-renovation San Francisco library remembers fondly spending days in the stacks browsing books that showed the beginnings of audio as a "science" (ok my friends have similar insterests) -- he presumes that most / all of these became dumpster fodder since they weren't ever checked out even in the 1960s.

So, we have issues on both sides of what will be kept.

One of my favourite phrases concerning risks associated with digital repositories is "they do not react well to interruptions in the funding stream".

While I am all in favour of digital repositories and think they can economically preserve many at risk items, I also worry about how they will be treated going forward. There are chilling thoughts about how easy Ray Bradbury and George Orwell's visions of removing content from history will become in an all-digital environment (Fahrenheit 451/1984).

I think Michigan has a good idea and I really like the copies mounted at both a university library AND Google. It is good protection. Hopefully, alarm bells will go off before the content is fully removed from both repositories.

I need to stop here before I get political smile.

Cheers,

Richard

Richard L. Hess said...

The other side of the coin is will the library be around forever. I realize there are differences between research libraries and popular libraries, but the story of the San Francisco library dumpstering tens of thousands of books a decade ago and other libraries -- down to local school libraries -- discarding books on a regular basis makes me wonder.

Apparently some libraries have a requirement that if the book isn't circulated in X number of years, it goes. I own many books that I obtained inexpensively via that path and some are essential reference works for my work.

A friend who recalls the pre-renovation San Francisco library remembers fondly spending days in the stacks browsing books that showed the beginnings of audio as a "science" (ok my friends have similar insterests) -- he presumes that most / all of these became dumpster fodder since they weren't ever checked out even in the 1960s.

So, we have issues on both sides of what will be kept.

One of my favourite phrases concerning risks associated with digital repositories is "they do not react well to interruptions in the funding stream".

While I am all in favour of digital repositories and think they can economically preserve many at risk items, I also worry about how they will be treated going forward. There are chilling thoughts about how easy Ray Bradbury and George Orwell's visions of removing content from history will become in an all-digital environment (Fahrenheit 451/1984).

I think Michigan has a good idea and I really like the copies mounted at both a university library AND Google. It is good protection. Hopefully, alarm bells will go off before the content is fully removed from both repositories.

I need to stop here before I get political.

Cheers,

Richard

Klaus said...

It is well known that Google's metadata are poor (esp. re multi-volume works). Thus it would be a great help if libraries would catalogue the Google items.