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A frustrated scholar warns of trusting Google

We’ve written here before about Google cancelling its newspaper digitization project. Here is a new story with some details about how Google took the most extensive searchable archive of Mexican historical newspapers in the world (The “Paper of Record” archive) and abandoned it.

  • How Google Disrespected Mexican History, By Richard J. Salvucci, Miller-McCune (July 10, 2011).

    So you want Google (or perhaps any commercial enterprise) to digitize your books and papers and make them available to everyone for all eternity? Profits and losses come and go, but history is forever and not necessarily responsive to market incentives. Be careful what you wish for. Google may give it to you, or, then again, maybe not.

Chronicling America Has a New Look!

Gary has a nice summary of how Chronicling America Has a New Look! (INFOdocket, by Gary D. Price, May 29, 2011).

Chronicling America is a Website providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC), is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Supported by NEH, this rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. An NEH award program will fund the contribution of content from, eventually, all U.S. states and territories.


More on Google and Newspaper Archives

Following up on Google cancelling its newspaper digitization project, here are two more stories:

  • Google archive decision ‘astonishing’ to Ottawa originator, by Vito Pilieci, The Ottawa Citizen (May 24, 2011).

    Google’s decision to end support for its newspaper archival services is distressing news for the Ottawa businessman who sold Google the technology to digitize records.

    “It’s disappointing, especially when you consider what I thought that this would do,” said Bob Huggins, former chief executive officer and co-founder of PaperOfRecord.com, which Google bought in 2008 for an undisclosed sum.

    …Huggins suggested that Google should partner with public sector institutions, such as the Library of Congress in the United States, to continue the newspaper digitization effort. The information could be stored by the library for safekeeping and made available online for everyone to read.

    “They need to give their head a shake here and realize they have some public responsibility,” added Huggins. “For a company that said they wanted to organize all of the world’s data, what happened to that mandate?”

    While Google has shifted its focus away from digitizing historical newspapers, the company is trying to work hand-in-hand with newspapers to help them charge for content on their websites.

  • Demise of Google Newspaper Archive Shows Need for National Digital Library Policy, by Irvin Muchnick, Beyond Chron, The San Francisco Alternative Daily (May 25, 2011).

    …the collapse of the project reinforces the limits of self-appointed public utilities. Apparently, the newspaper archive wasn’t getting enough eyeballs to make the project profitable.

Google and Newspaper Archives

On a tangent: Google is cancelling its newspaper digitization project:

  • Google abandons master-plan to archive the world’s newspapers, by Carly Carioli, The Boston Phoenix (May 19 2011).

    Google told partners in its News Archive project that it would cease accepting, scanning, and indexing microfilm and other archival material from newspapers, and was instead focusing its energies on “newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites.”

    …In an email, Google said it would continue to support the existing archives it has scanned and indexed. It added, “We do not, however, plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the digitized news product.”

The papers that were scanned and indexed (not all scanned papers were indexed) are, apparently, still available through http://news.google.com/archivesearch (See, the about page for more inforamtion.) The Boston Phoenix article speculates on this:

It remains to be seen whether Google will complete the process of indexing the newspapers it has scanned. We’d guess not.

But wait, there’s more:

…The deal Google struck with partner newspapers stipulated that, somewhere down the line, a paper could purchase Google’s digital scans of its content for a fee. That fee is now being waived, and Google is not only giving publishers free access to the scanned files, but also the rights to publish them with other partners. In essence, Google just scanned a huge chunk of the newspaper industry’s valuable long-tail content, and then handed it to the publishers…. Are any of us is in a position to exploit those resources without Google’s help?

I wonder if any libraries or library consortium is willing to strike a deal with the publishers and put those scans online?

BTW, this is evidently completely separate from the Google purchase of PaperOfRecord, which, after going offline after the Google purchase, is now, apparently, back online:

Library of Congress newspaper project

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (BETA)

“This site allows you to search and read newspaper pages from 1900-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).”