Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web, really?

Quick quiz: when you read a headline like the one in the New York Times today Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web do you think that the libraries involved are

a) sticking up for free access to information
b) prohibiting free access to information

Now read the article and tell me if you feel the same way. The article was also published in the International Herald Tribune with the title Research libraries close their books to Google and Microsoft which was where I read it at FreeGovInfo yesterday.

10 thoughts on “Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web, really?

  1. I just tried to hunt down the International Herald Tribune article to compare it to today’s NY Times one, and I couldn’t find it! All sources (FreeGovInfo, Google, archives) point me to this non-existent article:

    Is it common practice for an article to disappear from the Herald Tribune after the NY Times runs it?

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, if it’s a library with a unique collection, they could potentially be denying a larger public access to something that was otherwise unreachable.

    On the other hand, I haven’t heard anything good or bad about the condition of materials post-Googlescan, and until I hear someone from one of the participating libraries come out and say “our stuff was unscathed,” I’d be very apprehensive about submitting rare materials to the G-men.

  3. I’m trying to puzzle out the difference between access and convenience in libraries, in general and online.

    On the one hand, every book scanned is already accessible in libraries; putting it online merely makes it more convenient. Book scanning is not an issue of access.

    On the other hand, being indexed by a search engine adds millions of access points, unexpected and unlooked for by catalogers of the print editions.

    I don’t mean to confuse ‘access points’ with ‘access’ – whether you can look at it at all is a more important issue than how easy it is to look up. But the challenge facing us is that if we don’t make services convenient, they don’t get used.

    Scanning and giving primary digital rights to a single service is convenient because Google/Microsoft pays for the deal. Scanning expensively and making sure everyone has rights potentially provides more access to digital copies.

  4. I think there’s a strong possibility that the NYTimes is a little biased towards Big Business, and biased against the threat of free flow of information that the Open Content Alliance and the Internet Archive represent. Besides the misleading headline, I note that neither of them got a link in the NYT article online, whereas Google and Microsoft did.

  5. Overall this article is very positive to OCA’s efforts. How amazing it is this is on the front page of the NYT! It’s a small box, and that’s what fit. I can live with it, given Hafner’s excellent reportage and avoidance of silly-speak.

  6. Reading the headline only, one might get the impression that librarians are afraid for their jobs. After reading the article, however, the reader realizes that librarians only want open access to information, and don’t want Google to have and more of an information monopoly than they already do.

  7. The New York Times taxonomy (3MB OPML file) certainly puts companies ahead of individuals. Still, I was happy to see this get above the fold treatment, albeit about two years late.

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