Thursday, March 13, 2008

Trip Report:Google and Libraries: An international Conference

Trip Report: Google and Libraries: An international Conference

Timothy Murray

On March 10th I attended Google and Libraries An international Conference Held at Columbia University in New York City.

The Key note was delivered by Yakov Shraiber of International Library Information and Analytical Center This talk highlighted the rapid growth of Google in Russia. Google has only been in Russia for two years and now is the second most used search in Russia and has 30% of all searches in the Russian language.

The national libraies of Russia are engaged in large scale digitization projects and are making content freely available online. These projects are complicated by Russia’s recent decision to conform their copyright law to those of the EU.

Jill Cirasella of Brooklyn College Library gave a presentation on the use of online tools in the library.

The presentation is available:

A couple of key point from her presentation and the audience comments.

Librarians use Google often as their first resource.

Librarians teach end users to use Google.

Librarians have expertise at using a variety of research tools and are experts at using Google.

Patrons often bypass the reference librarian and conduct Google searches on their own. Which means that it is increasingly true that if it is not in Google it does not exist.

This community of expert searchers fundamentally believe that Google is a superior tool to the clunky databases of the past.

If there are complaints they are mostly about the fact that Google books points patrons to the Google books version rather than the libraries own version. Which is problematic for the libraries who are allowing Google to scan their books.

Many comments were made about the less than Prefect quality of the Scans.

Other Comments:

  • Ross Daly of the Metropolitan Museum Commented that Google has a very limited commitment to preservation.
  • Patricia Thurston of Yale Commented on the Web 2.0 tools being used at her institution to instruct students in new ways of gathering and disseminating information.
  • Hugh Truslow of Harvard’s Davis Center Commented that This may be the one and only time much of the information in libraries is ever digitized and that if it is done badly some information will be effectively permanently lost to posterity.
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan of the University of Virginia gave examples of how Faculty at the University of Virginia are using tools such as Google Docs and blogs to replace expensive course management systems.

There was excitement in general about the Google Links program for Google Scholar which allows libraries to tell Google what their holdings and IP ranges are and then in turn Google Scholar patron to the libraries link resolver which points them the library designated appropriate copy. The only concern here was that books are not included and users are instead directed to Google Books first.

Laura Quilter is a lawyer who has been using US laws which require state funded institutions to make contracts public (“Sunshine Laws”) to research and examine the details of the contracts Universities have signed with Google for the digitization of materials. What she reported was troubling to the audience. The contracts are restrictive and do not guarantee the delivery of usable files back to the libraries in some cases. The more recent agreements with California are an improvement.

Google is in control of the selection process. Which means that libraries that join the program later have a very fragmented collection returned to them.

They also found fault with Google Copyright policy. Google assumes that everything with a publication date after 1923 is copyrighted even though it may be public domain or government publications which can not be copyrighted.

In general the room felt that the best thing about Google book is that it stimulated other digitization projects.

The Final Speaker, Siva Vaidhyanathan of the University of Virginia, and author of The Googlization of Everything.

Siva Spoke a length about the implications of Google for society at large, but many of the fascination points he made were not relevant either academic publishing or librarianship.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Features for electronic books

Last week I was in the UK talking with a colleague about what the future of electronic books will be.

I believe that this paper is addressing in a more abstract way than my talk about an abstract page for books or book-parts, one of my key points.
The point is that scholarly works need to be citable and addressable. (I am hugely antagonistic of IRs which are mentioned and seem to be foundational to the ORE technology)

And I think this is in some ways on on the topic of what he thinks is important about updates to a book.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Metered Billing for online content

I just read an interesting case study for metered access to online content in Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community
Pay-per-view article access: a viable replacement for subscriptions?

Apparently Trinity saved more money than they planned to save. Some people who I respect have for a number of years now held the belief that a shift to use based pricing for online journals. But the community of libraries and publishers know that the short term outcome of such a shift would need to be relatively revenue neutral. (As the shift from print to online was. And some publishers created insurance of this during the transition by basing online pricing on past print spend at least for the transition.)

The Trinity case shows an example where the total spend with Elsevier declined by even more than was intended. They attribute this in part to who at Trinity was authorized (students has to ask a librarian). This was not a revenue neutral transition. And it was also not access neutral. The students effectively lost access.

There really is a fixed pool of money available for serials. This can shift from publisher to publisher or bypass the library by going into open access fees but the academic market is not apt to grow much (in North America or Europe) and may well collapse (I may post about his in the future. ) So for the short term any transition to use based pricing needs to be modeled in an environment that has a relatively stable equilibrium. I do not believe metered billing can be introduced on a large scale in a way that will provide the kinds of guarantees that are needed to change the business model generally.

I have in the past been involved with efforts to implement metered billing and believe that as a business model it is an effective way for publishers to compete for a libraries last dollar but not its first.