Gorman & Google cage match

Michael Gorman has some bad points and some good points in this Chronicle of Higher Education interview about Google. Good points: serious scholarship is about deep knowledge which is harder to get through Google in its current incarnation, than through print. Bad points: most library users are not scholars, really inappropriate hip-hop metaphor, inability to see the future usefulness of short scannable interlinked bits of knowledge for many day-to-day applications. Gorman is, in some ways, a librarian’s librarian, but he sure doesn’t come across as the public’s librarian. Some discussion on LISNews. This is my favorite excerpt from there.

I’m reminded of a quote in The Name of the Rose, something like “Brother Salvatore is guilty…. of confusing the love of poverty with the hatred of wealth.” I’m becoming more and more convinced that Gorman is confusing the love of accurate searching with the hatred of digital forms of information.

The Infinite Library

While you’re on a reading kick today, curl up with this article: The Infinite Library, a very interesting look at some of the possible unintended consequences of the large-scale digitization projects that Google, and others but mostly Google, are undertaking. Some good quotes from Brewster Kahle and some interesting discussion about DRM. Jared has a few other thoughts on it. As an additional bonus, here is the author’s blog post about the article he wrote.

Kahle argues that all digital library materials should be as freely and openly accessible as physical library materials are now. That’s not such a radical idea; free and open access is exactly what public libraries, as storehouses of printed books and periodicals, have traditionally provided. But the very fact that digital files are so much easier to share than physical books … could lead to limits on redistribution that prevent libraries from giving patrons as much access to their digital collections as they would like. “Google has brought us to a tipping point that could define how access to the world’s literature may proceed,” Kahle says.


thousands of hits, good news or bad?

Somehow missed this last week — an excellent point/counterpoint [in the form of a blog entry and comment] over at the OCLC blog. Topic? That ongoing “Do we make the library more like Google, or make Google more like the library?” I think it also points out another hidden conflict area that is fast becoming a favorite topic of mine: to what extent do we let the software dictate the way the user can search, and hopefully find? ALA’s ballots are being distributed over a one week [for e-ballots] or two week [paper] schedule. Why can’t we send them all at once? Because ALA worries about server overload problems. Is this saving the time of the user? Does Google?

Pretend you’ve never ever been in a large library. Pretend you know absolutely nothing about taxonomies. Pretend you don’t know the difference between a magazine, a journal, an index and a book. Pretend you don’t know what you don’t know, and don’t know how to articulate your unknowingness. Once you’ve pretended all this, make a pretend visit to a very large library for the first time.