Last night’s evening session was called “Google-brary: The Status Quo of Tomorrow’s MEGALIBRARY.” It was a Google love/hate fest. Some librarians in the audience seemed to feel Google is helping people with access to information, while other librarians were concerned about the monopolization of information. However, it was also pointed out that Google is not the only player in this area and that Amazon and the Open Content Alliance are also in the mix. But the biggest gaping hole was that the Internet Archive wasn’t discussed. Brewster Kahle and his organization are the real pioneers in this space and although the big companies are stepping in now and are getting the limelight, none of this would be possible without IA. (See my review from last November about the Wayback Machine.)
Adam Smith, the Google Product Manager on the panel, did a fine job I thought. It’s not easy being in front of many hundred librarians. He obviously takes issues around digitization seriously, though he also kept to the company line about wanting “to do what’s right”. I think they’d be better not repeating these types of statements all the time. It’s starting to feel a bit forced. But in any case, I think it’s great that he agreed to be on the panel. Too bad Amazon and the Open Content Alliance didn’t also have panelists. Too bad Brewster Kahle wasn’t a panelist!
Some news that was announced last night was that Microsoft has agreed to join the Open Content Alliance along with the Internet Archive, Yahoo! and other organizations. According to the information I learned last night, Microsoft is going to pay for the digitization of 150,000 books.
Some random good quotes from the panel:
* The most requested interlibrary loan book last year was the Da Vinci Code. Would it just be cheaper for libraries to buy a used copy from Amazon and send it to a patron than do ILL?
* In the future, Internet Librarian will simply called the Librarian Conference.