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Moving from the Google Book Store to a True Digital Public Library

Although many media stories about the Google Book Settlement continue to refer to Google’s project as a “library,” the smart media and knowledgeable people, including Judge Chin, understand that Google’s project is not and never was a library: “It is instead a complex and large-scale commercial enterprise in which Google — and Google alone — will obtain a license to sell millions of books for decades to come.”

In the wake of the court decision, we are seeing calls and planning for establishing an actual public, digital library as an alternative to relying on Google.

Here are some key articles:

  • Concept Note, Digital Library of America Project (as of March, 2011).

    The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.

    …At the outset, its material is likely to remain hosted, as a primary matter, in a federated series of the existing digital repositories. The system would allow for broad and easy access to enormous existing collections, such as the Internet Archive, along with those in research libraries and other repositories and those to be created by future scanning…. [working] with the leading preservation technologies — HathiTrust, DuraSpace, and LOCKSS, and potentially others — to build out the nation’s existing preservation architecture. [The project should] begin with works in the public domain that have already been digitized and are accessible through the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, [and] a broad range of government material…

  • Thank You, Judge Chin, By Siva Vaidhyanathan, Chronicle of Higher Education (March 24, 2011).

    As opposed to how some university libraries celebrated Google’s announcement of its Book Search Project in 2004 because now they would not have to spend money to get digital files of their books, scientists who work on the Genome stood up and organized.

    …We lack only one thing: the political will to fight for a great and noble information system — a global digital library. I’m not talking about the haphazard rush we’ve seen to date to digitize the stacks of major research libraries. Nor a commercial venture like Google’s. I’m proposing what I call the “Human Knowledge Project”…. What I mean is a truly global digital library. To generate support for that, we need to identify the political and legal constraints, as well as articulate the payoffs.

  • Creating a digital public library without Google’s money, By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times (March 25, 2011).

    The Google books case now looks like a salvage operation for the dream of a digital library.

    …Judge Chin’s decision forces us — or allows us– to ponder the dream of a digital library without ceding our future to Google.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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