The debate about the Google Books project continues to grow. A recent post from Robert B. Townsend on the American Historical Association blog has pointed out some problems associated with the project. Townsend raises concerns about the faulty application of metadata (information about information; used for indexing and cataloging) and copyright to works included in the project. He also has concerns about the quality of the digital scans being produced at a rapid pace by Google. So why should you care? While Townsend may seem like an ol’ stick in the mud, his arguments are important for libraries and their users. Take a look at the article and the insightful comments that follow it. What are your expectations for a project like this?
I personally have nothing against the Google Books project, but the thought of Google putting out a substandard faulty product is one that worries me, especially since so many of our students have come to view Google as a trusted source of information. Keep in mind that the Google Project does not promise to provide full text access to millions of books, but the ability to search within them. Users can use this tool to identify items of interest, and then retrieve copies from their library or bookstore of choice. As librarians, we are in favor of this, but we also want to see Google apply the same high level of standards that are used in libraries to catalog information resources and make them publicly available.