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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.


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