Friday, 28 November 2008

Google Books Settlement and Libraries

From the Google Books Library Project page:

"Our ultimate goal is to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, virtual card catalog of all books in all languages [My italics] that helps users discover new books and publishers discover new readers".

So nothing too ambitious then...

Recently Google and the US publishers that sued them for their digitisation efforts agreed on a settlement.

There is a useful resource from the ALA and ARL called "A guide for the perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library project Settlement" available here. It isn't clear whether this agreement will apply outside the US, but the most relevant piece of information for me was this:

" Google will make available institutional subscriptions that will allow users
within an institution to view the full text of all the books within the Institutional
Subscription Database (ISD). This database will include the books in the in copyright,
not commercially available category. This access will continue only
for the duration of the subscription; access will not be perpetual, in contrast to
when a user purchases access to an individual book, as described above."

So, Google will be offering subscription access to the digitised version of some very significant Academic Library's collections, this could be big news for all academic libraries, allowing us to potentially expand our eBook collections to millions of volumes of scholarly material.

There is a lot more information in the ALA / ARL report linked to above, recommended reading.

Interesting times.

My favourite Library from the US

We visited many Libraries during our trip, public and academic, affluent and poorly funded. The New York Public Library was amazing for its scale and spirit, the large Academic Libraries like the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt were inspiring but this beautiful room is the Franke Reading Room, part of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago and it was my favourite.

The room is decorated with works of art from the collection of the Art Institute, which is Chicago's main gallery and has a great collection.
It isn't on the scale of the reading rooms of the New York Public Library or The State Library of Victoria, it felt much less grandiose and intimidating, and the rules were quite arcane (pencils only please!), but it was such a beautiful, intimate space I wished I had more time to sit down and study there.
More information here