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JCDL: Panel: Tick, Tock – Google as Library

Because of flight times, this will be the last session that I get to attend. Panel: Tick, Tock – Google as Library includes Richard Luce, Clifford Lynch, Barbara Quint and moderator Jim Williams [Dean of Libraries at UColorado-Boulder]. With luck I’ll get a seat with decent wireless access.

Panelists will engage one another and audience members in discourse on present and future relationships between (digital) libraries and dominant players in the world of e-commerce, typified by Google and Amazon. The presentations will emphasize how matters that seem threatening (to traditional library roles) may be viewed as opportunities for enhancing the value of digital libraries to their users.

Richard Luce from Los Alamos’ Library Without Walls and a NISO fellow.
Offers what he calls scattered observations:
Who do you trust? [asked about Google as in “when will Google suck?”]
Events often change corporate cultures. [again “when will Google stop doing good?”]
Libraries collect information too. Europeans fear what happens when libraries share data about patrons, say.
He now mentions Bell Labs, IBM, Microsoft and now Google as diff dominant players. Libraries endure he says.
High tech vs high touch. Libraries win on high touch.
Personalization is a winning area for libraries, but they need to have local data — as Los Alamos has to provide for their patrons.
Collaboration tools should be an edge for libraries. [he thinks Google won’t be there soon. I think he’s wrong]
Libraries can use a barter economy to federate and collaborate to get better services for their patrons. He thinks that Darwinism will select winners and kill off losers.
More about opportunities for libraries.

Cliff Lynch. Google is a word that is obcessing everyone for whatever reason. The Google digitization project has captured public imagination in a broad way. He will talk more broadly about mass digitization projects mentioning others like Brewster’s — err Internet Archive’s. Mass digitization was underway before Google stepped in and will be after [whenever after might be]. Has our Network failed to deliver on promises? Can we share and provide access to the world’s knowledge (as we promised back in the day)? Brings up copyright and business model disruption issues. Alludes to Deanna’s keynote (see earlier in this blog. International dimension delights Cliff. Folks claimed that the Net collections would be English only (makes joke about non-English holdings at US institutions). France started a competition to digitize more stuff to head off Englishers. Books are no longer the definitive part of our intellectual materials. Multimedia, audio, video, photos, etc are taking on new importance as those archives come online.
Notes a coming divide about what is online — out of copyright (aka safe) material — will become more important to our remaking and remixing. We can, as Brewster says, digitize all the public domain literature and we can have it all on a personal device! Not just in the big library in the sky. But it will stop someplace in the 1920s! That will bring things to a public policy crisis and force a revision of IP laws.
Last point: Google as library? Frames things wrongly. G is amassing a giant collection with rich access tools. But they are not the only ones. Libraries are not just collections, says he. How do libraries think about themselves in this new world? Do they hoard or share? Museums are in the same situation or more so. How centralized are collections? Who will get access?

Barbara Quint on by phone. This panel is named from her article, Tick Tock. Research libraries spend 15 billion $$$ per year [for what?] After Harvard etc, where will Google go? It will sell access to smaller libraries. Google may spend 1 billion to digitize, but they can make 15 billion on that investments.
She wonders not about libraries but about librarians. We can’t get stuck in the stacks. Germans aren’t fighting via copyright but are digitizing themselves (as are French). University Presses complains and challenges. Authors will step up as well. Authors may take on the case themselves by taking out of print books back. Google doesn’t really won content but instead library patrons.
Comments on her article. Michael Hart of Project Gutenberg to give her props. Folks, she says, agree that Google has already won. But so have users (maybe). Even the French will and probably should cooperate with Google. Will Yahoo or MSFT begin to compete?

Cliff and Rich respond.
First Rich. Google has captured imagination and we lack it. There is an issue about librarians futures. It is about libraries! People still come in the buildings even if they are some sort of information commons. Why will people come in? Social/Starbucks buildings.
Barbara say damn straight there is a problem. The bucks for bricks are too high. Libraries pay for overhead and salaries — not for collections. Why would we pay? Library is a purchasing consortium. Why do we need that consortium when most stuff is free.
Jim moderator picks up on free vs pay access.
Barbara says collections only $$$ could pay for all citizens without buildings
Cliff responds. Buying collections/library in a box is coming for say community colleges. Journals are already treated that way (Barbara confirms). Next monographs.
But stewardship and curation are there in larger libraries. This will split public and research libraries say.
Cliff talks about publisher pushback on Google digitization. Digitize all then figure out what is public domain and release that. If you digitize and don’t show it to anyone, is that a copyright violation? Sounds zen to Cliff.
Now Cliff starts to diss University Presses — as does Barbara. B says in an interview with the AUP head that he says “we are a niche market group” B then asked “do you want to stay a niche market group?”
Last thing from Cliff [hee hee] author publisher relations in book market. Journals take all rights from authors so digitizing those work was easy. But the ‘out of print’ clause in book authors’ contracts causes problems when ‘out of print’ is difficult to define. When will the author ever get a work back. Orphan works and/or out of business publishers brought up. This last is subject to inspection by LC and the copyright office.
Cliff says Michigan is interested in sharing legal information especially. what other collaborations? the five institutions with Google have not comprehensive digitization of thier entire collections. This corpus is only the beginning. Partnerships with users/patrons is/are the real juice.
Barbara says she will wander back to the initial trust issue with Google. What if Google is stopped by the Presses? Whose side will we be on? Could Google become a public utility? [ala Martin Greenberger’s Information Utility]
Rich. goes back to barter. notes Google partnerships and their rules.
Barbara. GooglePrint will not allow printing but only onscreen viewing — except for NYPL. Even if public domain.
Cliff says that non-commercial use would be okay.
Barbara says Google told her “No downloads” (period)
Martin of Emery. like the nationalization of google. makes joke
Ed Fox of VT. speaks of dream of universal access and how to keep it alive. (not a question). giving props to NSDL and his own early work. (still no question). More props for instutional repository movement (he doesn this). Electronic theses (he does this — still no question).
Cliff comments. Likes his point that mass digitization is very backwards looking. Ed hinted within his props that we need to get new new new material. capturing 75 year old materials is only a small part of that we need to be doing. we need to manage the stream of new authorship.
Gary M of UNC. agrees that digitization of public domain is old school. wants to talk about remix and reuse. who will take care of the new derivative works? where will they reside? will they be in a “Dim archive”?
Barbara. wrote on blog/books and book/blogs.
Rich. is Google a library? 9-11 changes the access rules as far as sharing material. Los Alamos has had stuff taken away. Google content also disappears. The Memory Hole [not called that here but is by me] is the big problem for our future.
Barbara. tells a scholarly journal that killed an article once the author was convicted of fraud. the bad stuff needs to be there not removed!
Rich. on disinformation campaigns. google and yahoo and others gamed and used by disinformationism (is that a word?)
Barbara. talks about the censorship role in libraries in the process of selection.
Cathy Blake of UNC. likes the collections of agreement and disagreement. so early on we need speculations and even wrong ideas so we can see the evolution of say scientific discourse.
Barbara. she is bothered by GooglePrint and GoogleLibrary agreements and selections. Google doesn’t collaborate on working with the materials as well as she would like.
U of Penn guy John asks about large corpuses as attractors to patrons. what will libraries do? googleScholar
Barbara says she talked with Elsivier is not up to Google. Google does clustering with GoogleScholar in a great way. Could there be clustering for “reliability” or for
Intergrating and distributed searches. Cliff notes that Google is centralized not distributed. We’ve been at distributed but not so successful (we worked with Brewster and with Cliff on WAIS even).
?? Canadian person. talks about Canadian issues and the commercialization of knowledge. Now about digitization standards and digital preservations. Please talk about it, panel.
Cliff. need LOCKSSish. make lots of copies. Google is too centralized for example. not all vulnerabilities are technical. political or religious or legal purges can kill copies.
He doesn’t see Google as a long term cultural preservation activity. They need profits. What will Google do when there are not profits to be had on some stuff?
[jones starting to burn out]
Barbara says standards are fine, but Google will do whatever they want.
Rich. talks about reliabilityand uptime and the like.
Cliff will disagree with Barbara. Public domain materials will return to libraries and libraries should and will handle it.
Barbara says focus on journals immediately to be players (research librarians).
More discussion, but I must go.


  1. Did you get a chance to use the word “Info-Stalinist”?

  2. Thanks for your notes – I missed Marcum’s plenary and was glad to see your notes. Your good comment there about the absence of mention or discussion of wikis has also been true of the last plenary (as Q&A begins). More thoughts on that?

  3. No on Info-Stalinist. I save that for you to say Simon ;->
    Anna, I do think as I come out of my travel stupor that the conference and the folks in digital libraries are focused on one train that has already left the station, Google, and will not take the wiki way seriously until like Google it has bypassed our work and our research. We are looking the wrong way (as I mix my metaphors and overextend them too).
    People are talking about portals and about dim archives and saying how it cost too much to make material available to others. They are taling about selection and about authority, then in the next breath they talk about how people they hadn’t anticipated are using the digital library in ways that they hadn’t anticipated. So much for your authority and for your selection criteria.
    I could go on, but we are no seeing how the broadening of information access and the empowerment of the users of the digital libraries makes things happen for us.

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