A case for libraries
Let me just begin this blog by saying LONG LIVE LIBRARIES. It's been a long time since I sat down in Reeves Library to do some homework, and like always, I find myself wondering why I don't stop by here more often. There's just something about the atmosphere of a library that forces me to write and work more diligently than I could ever hope to at home or even in the commuter lounge. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that in the past few hours that I've spent in the library, I've accomplished more work than I have in the past week or so. It's a shame, and I really hope there will always be a place for libraries in our society.
The bargain looked dubious to some of us in charge of the libraries. We had provided Google with the books free of charge in the first place, and now we were being asked to buy back access to them, along with those of our sister libraries, in digitized form.
We've talked about Google Books before in class and in other assigned texts by Darnton. In later chapters, he mentions that Google Books never set out to be a monopoly, and I still agree with that. I do think it's unfair that they charge institutions to access full texts, but I can understand that certain copyright laws might prohibit them from displaying all of the data online for the world to see. There are plenty of hackers out there who can get around Google's firewalls, I'm sure. I just wish we could at least have some digital-world peace, at least for the case of books and other documents.
In the case of books, the digital copies in Google's database will belong to Google, and Google can charge any price it likes for access to them. It will own a vast stretch of the road.
Society's big mistake is not giving Google a capable competator. In my research for my term paper, I found that Microsoft released a similar program to digitize books a few years ago, but prematurely (if you ask me) abandoned the program. The millions of books already digitized are still available for anyone to read, but as of right now there's a huge battle with Google for rights in libraries. I'm optomistic that the iPad and other eReaders will level out the playing field sigificantly. Unfortunately, Google Books still has an advantage because they scanned the actual documents rather than just uploaded microsoft word-type documents online. Looks like we're on our way to a book war, if you ask me.
Google's mission statement: "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Should we think of Google as a publisher?
I don't know about my peers, but I don't consider Google to be a publisher, because they aren't printing anything. Sure they're making documents more accessible to a larger audience, but they're just using information that was published by other companies. I think we need to think of a different word to describe just what Google Books is.