Library Juice 8:4 - February 25, 2005


1. Links....
2. Editorial: Tough times ahead for the Humanities
3. FYI France: Google digital library vs. France?... & vs. others?
4. Critiquing (and defending) Google on COLLIB-L

Quote for the week:

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president
represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of
the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks
of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the
White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Homepage of the week: Steven Joyce


1. Links....


Cancer, Chemicals and History
by Jon Wiener
The Nation, 1/20/2005
(about pressures on scholarly presses)

[ From Barbara Fister to COLLIB-L ]


Blogger Michael Bates has been sued by the Tulsa World newspaper for
linking and quoting articles. The Tulsa World claims violation of
copyright for actions that any of us would consider fair use. This is an
important case to watch.

Bates' blog has much info on it about the case, including links to hostile

[ Karen Schneider to ALACOUN ]


Charles Lewis, The Center for Public Integrity.
What happened to the principle that American
democracy should be accessible and transparent?
And what became of the investigative journalism
that aided that process?

[ From ALA's Don Wood to IFACTION ]


"Public Mission of State Colleges Is Endangered by Increasing Competition
and Privatization"
A report from the Futures Project at Tufts University

[ From William Walsh to liblicense-l ]


Here is a status report conducted by the Middle Eastern Librarians
Assocations (MELA) in June 2004 on the Central Awqaf Library and the
Central Library of Baghdad University Also take a look at the Oriental
Institute's "Lost Treasures from Iraq" website at

[ Fred Stoss to SRRTAC-L ]


University of Alberta's new acquisitions by RSS feed:

[ found in Geoff Harder's Blog Driver's Waltz ]


This article, "'Baseless Hysteria': The Controversy between the Department
of Justice and the American Library Association over the USA PATRIOT Act"
details the claims and accusations that took place between the ALA and
Attorney General Ashcroft in 2003, mostly in June.

[ found on the Piedmont PLG livejournal ]


* Google's toolbar sparks concern *
A trial version of a toolbar for search engine Google which links to
pre-selected websites raises concerns.
Full story:

[ from George Lessard to CPI-UA ]


Dan Markstein's Toonopedia
"A vast repository of toonological knowledge" (cartoons)

Indexes of Famous Dogs, Cats and Critters

Index of Famous Monkeys

[ Found surfing ]

2. Editorial: Tough times ahead for the Humanities

Higher Education today is feeling the squeeze. Between a desperate
situation for state and federal budgets and an anti-intellectual body
politic, state universities are having great difficulty maintaining secure
footing. So, it's time for major "strategic planning and repositioning"
projects, whatever that means.

This afternoon I sat in on a telecast of University of Minnesota President
Bob Bruininks "State of the University" address, in which he prepared the
University community for our own strategic planning and repositioning
process, which is of course to be an exciting opportunity for synergy and
creative redefinition and new levels of excellence, etcetera. Along with
that wonderful renaissance will of course be "challenges," the nature of
which was left vague. What he did say was this: First, that the environment
of decreasing public support for higher education is a major determining
factor in shaping our strategic plan. Second, that programs that have
been very successful will be strengthened (the implication being that
there will be hard times for those programs that haven't pulled their
weight according to some unknown measures). Third, that everyone in the
university community must be prepared to drastically change their
assumptions about their jobs and their way of working - in some unstated
way. The only step he took toward specificity in this regard is that new
levels of accountability are to be introduced everywhere. Accountability
to whom and in according to what criteria? Unstated. Fourth, that the
future of the university depends in part on more partnerships with
industry. (He said other things, but these are the essential lines that
were meant to be read between.)

The meaning of it, to me, is reasonably clear, especially if you take
into account aspects of a broader environmental scan. University
Presidents have found themselves forced to go where the money is, and also
to answer to powerful people who happen to have strong anti-intellectual
biases. The money, of course, is in sci-tech and business, which also
happen to be the the two areas of higher education that anti-intellectuals
generally don't mind, because you can "see the benifits."

Take Google Scholar for example, which may be an early glimpse into the new
world of higher education. It advertises itself as a quick and easy
gateway to everything academic. In "evenhandedly" evaluating it,
librarians typically write such things as "Google Scholar is best in the
areas of technology and medicine," which is so understated an assessment
as to be quite misleading. In reality, there is almost nothing in Google
Scholar representing the arts, humanities and social sciences. It is at
least 95% about science and technology. There is no acknowledgment of
this, let alone an explanation, in anything Google has published regarding
this enterprise that I have been able to find. One can assume that in
response to feedback and criticism Google will eventually provide better
coverage of humanities scholarship, but I predict that Google Scholar will
always represent learning and scholarship as primarily scientific and
technological, and that this will be in keeping with the major trend in
higher education. "Liberal studies," as the arts and humanities and
social sciences will commonly be referred to for ideological points, will
be represented (whenever possible) as a luxury that we largely can no
longer afford.

It may be offered in defense of this trend that higher education for the
masses has a short history, and if a smaller relative share of it will be
made up of humanities students, this will only be equivalent to the
population that studied humanties in the days before the extension of
higher education to the majority of the population. What society needs,
this argument says, is more engineers, and what working class college
students need is training for better jobs. This argument, though, abandons
the educational aim of extending higher education to a broader population
in the first place. Research and teaching in the the arts, humanties and
social sciences is a way of creating a society made up of people with a
broad based wisdom and understanding. It is enlightenment, not more
advanced technology, that makes a good society. There is no way to say
that in today's cynical environment without sounding like a pathetic
dreamer, but it is nevertheless the simple truth. As our society abandons
liberal studies, as it is gradually doing, we become a progressively less
civilized people.

The leader of our nation is, of course, a case in point.

[ Editor's note: the text of UMN President Bob Bruinink's address can be
found here: .]

3. FYI France: Google digital library vs. France?... & vs. others?

(By Jack Kessler, forwarded to COLLIB-L and reprinted here with
longstanding permission.)

The wonderful digital library news from Google -- that all the
world's books are to be digitized -- has not been received with
unrestrained glee by everyone. I've already tried, previously
here, to suggest the worries of the rare book community: see this
FYIFrance ejournal's December 15 2004 issue.

Now comes another sceptic: from the world outside of our
"Anglo-Saxon" one... an "outside" world increasingly and
self-consciously so... He is very upset, about Google's digital
library plans, and the rest of us would do well to listen.

Jean-Noël Jeanneney is president of the Bibliothèque Nationale de
France: this is the august position of "administrateur", once
occupied by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie and Julien Cain, and other
luminaries over the centuries before them -- individuals who,
often against seemingly-insuperable odds, built and maintained
the great library which was the Bibliothèque du Roi, and then the
Bibliothèque Nationale, and now has become the BNF.

Jeanneney speaks for himself, in what he says about the Google
digital library, but he is no crusading journalist merely
grabbing at a headline. Google will be hearing from plenty of
those, as well. But Jean-Noël Jeanneney heads one of the leading
cultural institutions in the entire "non-English-speaking world".

That is a very large world, still, that non-English-speaking one.
It includes Europe, also Russia, also Africa and Latin America;
and yes also Asia, the billions of information users who are
there, too. "English-speaking" being a matter not of capacity but
of choice: for example very good English is spoken in India,
but people there might rather choose something else...

Does Jeanneney speak for them? No, he would not pretend this: he
would disclaim representing "Europe", even -- and pressed to the
point he might say he speaks not even for his own nation, or even
his BNF, but only for himself.

But the rest of us might do well to consider him representative,
I myself believe, in many of his remarks which follow below: who
else, to give us blunt and honest advice, if not the French? --

-- Jeanneney does not like the "crushing American domination"
which he senses in Google's digital library project, he says --
and would anyone else, among the great institutions and cultures
which populate the "non-English-speaking world"?

-- and he is suspicious, of what he pungently labels,
"research-for-profit, cloaked in the appearence of disinterest"

-- so in these two respects alone, then, digital library
developers everywhere might read, and carefully consider,
Jeanneney's perhaps-representative and at-least-indicative and
perhaps-very-influential remarks.

The article appears in the January 22 issue of Le Monde:

Quand Google défie l'Europe, par Jean-Noël Jeanneney
LE MONDE | 22.01.05 | 15h49[at]2-3232%2C36-395266%2C0.html

-- translations into English which follow here are my own --

"Google defies Europe", by Jean-Noël Jeanneney,
president of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Le Monde, January 22 2005 (URL above)

"The risk, of a crushing American domination, of the idea of the
world to be held by future generations...

"For now, the news has attracted the attention of only librarians
and computer scientists. But I would measure the significance of
this in cultural terms, and so in political terms: this is enormous..."

-- additional discussion by the French, of their BNF president's
remarks, also is easily viewed in two locations --

* Biblio-fr (French librarians. econference) archive
(search on the thread "Re: faut-il crier haro sur Google?")

* Internet Actu - Fing - INIST/CNRS

-- Jeanneney says,

"Google is, as everyone knows, the premier search engine for
guiding Internet users through the immensity of the Web... And it
is first in terms of sheer capitalistic weight: since its listing
on the stock exchange in New York in June 2004, it has found and
it will continue to find an abundance of new financial resources.

"Therefore and thereby, on the 14th of December, this corporation
announced with great fanfare that it has concluded contracts with
five of the most celebrated and resource-rich libraries of the
Anglo-Saxon world..."

-- the corporate and capitalistic and "market-driven" aspects of
such a project, all increasingly just taken for granted in the
US, still are objects of great suspicion everywhere else, and US
Internet developers need to remember this --

"Contracts for doing what? For nothing less than the
digitization, within a few years, of 15 million works in order to
make them accessible online... for free, for those which now are
in the public domain, and in teasing extracts for the others
which still are under copyright, awaiting the passage of time..."

"They are speaking here of a total -- dizzying statistic -- of
4.5 billion pages. The initial reaction, facing such a gigantic
prospect, might be pure and simple jubilation. Look how it has
taken form, in such a short time, the messianic dream defined at
the close of the last century: all of the knowledge of the world,
accessible for free across the entire planet. Thus true equality
at last is established, thanks to science, to the greatest benefit
of the poorest nations, and of the most disadvantaged populations.

"But we have to look a little further into this. Some great
difficulties were born at the same time..."

-- the "value-free" and magically-beneficial contribution to
civilization of science, both Big Science and small science, also
is not taken for granted so often, outside of the US --

"Here we find the risk of a crushing domination, by America, of
the idea which future generations will have of the world. No
matter what the immediate effect is of the Google announcement,
the sheer exhaustivity of the undertaking puts all this beyond
our reckoning, from a humanistic point of view. Any undertaking
of this nature will require drastic choices, among the immense
variety of possibilities which it offers."

-- I add here one of my favorite quotations from Umberto Eco:

"...the issue which gives me the greatest anxiety of my
life: the conservation of books... I am terrorized by the
idea that all the books which have appeared on cellulose
paper since the 19th century are destined to disappear
because they are so fragile... When I pick up a Gallimard
from the 1950s, I have the impression of having in my
hands a lamb being burned as a sacrifice...

"We are confronted by a fundamental choice of
civilization... _But who, what authority will decide
which books to retain?_ Plato and Dante have known their
periods of disgrace, although they have been able to
transcend the centuries...

[emphasis added -- interview in _Le Nouvel Observateur_,
no.1406, 17-23 Oct 1991, an issue entitled, "No, Imaging
Has Not Killed the Civilization of the Written Word: The
Revenge of the Books", translation of the above by me in
the FYI France ejournal issue of Feb 15, 1993. JK.]

-- for Jeanneney too says,

"The libraries launching themselves into this adventure certainly
are generously open to the civilizations and works of other
countries. Nevertheless: the criteria of choice will be heavily
influenced -- even if we contribute ourselves, uncomplainingly,
to the riches of this project -- by a point of view which is
Anglo-Saxon, with its specific approach to the diversities of
human civilization.

"I remember our Bicentenary of the Revolution, in 1989, when I
was in charge of certain celebrations. It was damaging and
difficult for the well-being of my nation -- for its image and
for its own understanding of itself, of its past, of events
shining or shady -- that when we came to our commemorations we
had to seek, in English or American databases, recitals and
interpretations which were biased in so many ways: "The Scarlet
Pimpernel" crushing "Quatre-vingt-treize" -- the valiant British
aristocrats triumphing over the bloody Jacobins -- the guillotine
obscuring The Rights of Man and the brilliant contributions of
the Convention. That experience was instructive, and it puts us
on our guard.

"We should not forget, too, another aspect of this
work-in-progress: in the ocean of the Internet, where everything
can be found -- the true along with the false -- the process of
validation of the products of research, by scientific authorities
and in their journals, takes on an essential role. Anglo-Saxon
science, which already is dominant in a certain number of
domains, will become over-valued, inevitably -- with a crushing
advantage to English, over the languages of other cultures,
including those of other European cultures.

"It will be said that we speak here not of complete works,
because those by definition are not yet in the public domain, but
only of extracts, for the protection of authors and publishers.
But in fairness this publicity alone will be discriminatory, and
necessarily. Under the appearance of gratuity the Internet user
in fact will repay Google, qua consumer, as that corporation
lives 99% off of publicity, and the project which it has
announced surely envisions a return-on-investment. And little ads
in the page margins and preferred links will lead to sales,
accentuating the imbalance."

-- and Jeanneney is careful to offer not just defensiveness but
also a challenge, a competitive one --

"Ever since the question first was posed, following the second
world war -- initially in film and then generally in the mass
communications industries -- the issue of the French response to
American domination, as a matter of principle if not in outright
reaction, has weighed upon all of our originality here. A first
response was protectionism, via a quota system, in theaters and
then on the television. This was a legitimate reply, and it was
partially effective. But in the present case such a strategy
would be impossible, given the nature of the Web. There is a
second approach, though, one which already has proven itself on
several Websites: that of a counter-attack, one with an emphasis
on cultural differences.

"In this matter France and her Bibliothèque Nationale have a
special responsibility toward the francophone world. But no
European nation is, we know, strong enough to undertake such an
effort. I certainly would be the last to ignore the efforts thus
far accomplished: the digital library developed by the
Bibliothèque nationale de France under the name of Gallica --
which already offers 80,000 works and 70,000 images online, and
soon will offer the fulltexts of the great French journals of the
19th century -- now is accessible, to the plaudits of numerous
researchers and citizens, and it spreads our influence throughout
the world. But it exists only through the subsidies of the French
government, which are not unlimited, and through our own BNF
resources, which are assembled valiantly but with difficulty. Our
annual expense is not even a thousandth of the vast sum announced
now by Google. The combat is unequal by far.

"Another approach is needed. And it can only be deployed on a
pan-European scale: a Europe determined to be not just a market,
but a shining center of culture and political influence without
peer around the planet.

"So the time has come for a solemn appeal. It calls upon the
leaders of the Union, in its three leading institutions, to
respond without delay -- for, very quickly, the position will be
taken, the habits will be formed, it will be to late to nudge
them aside later on.

"A multi-year plan must be defined and adopted this year at
Brussels. A generous budget must be provided. It is in providing
these public funds that we will give to our citizens and our
researchers -- providing them as necessary expenses and not as
consumer products -- a protection against the perverse effects of
research-for-profit, cloaked in the appearence of disinterest.

"It is only by relying on national government initiatives that we
will prevent all of our archival photographic collections from
falling into the hands of American corporations (Corbis, a
subsidiary of Microsoft, already has taken things far in that
direction). It is only by mobilizing specialized laboratories
that we will develop search engines as well as software which are
our own.

"Everywhere one calls upon, nowadays, the urgency of long-term
research and industrial development policies which will assure,
in the face of strong global competition trends, a pathway for
the originality which Europe can contribute: well, here it is,
exactly -- this is the challenge which we must confront. We can
do it, we must do it.

"* Jean-Noël Jeanneney, former secretary of state for
communications, is the President of the Bibliothèque Nationale de
France and of the association Europartenaires."



Am I personally in favor of any of this, either of what Google is
proposing or of what Jeanneney is calling for here to combat it?

I do not see the two as opposed, myself -- I am very much in
favor of both, in fact. It always has been as Jeanneney himself
suggests, I believe: elsewhere in the above piece he observes,

"All the experience of history shows that in the past no new mode
of communication ever has been simply substituted for that which
preceded it -- instead it complements the other, often adding
value to both."

-- certainly Henri-Jean Martin suggests this, too, and Elizabeth
Eisenstein confirms it, regarding "transitions in media". People
still write, in spite of centuries of printing. And people still
speak, and paint, and decorate their buildings, in spite of
centuries of writing, so Hugo's "ceci tuera cela" was an
over-statement. And no decades in history ever have witnessed
such paper production and consumption, as those now which have
followed the arrival, proclaimed a quarter century ago, of "the
paperless library".

And this will continue, it appears to me. There is room for both,
and more. The world still contains much illiteracy: illiteracy
regarding the written and printed word, and also illiteracy
regarding the visual world, and sound, and taste, and multi-media
representations of all of these and more. Many of us, on the
globe, still cannot "read and write", and all too few of us can
really "see" or "hear".

From Geoffroy Tory to Roland Barthe to Edward Tufte, we have been
taught how little really most of us know of the visual and many
other worlds of "texts". Most of us still are discovering the
worlds of Bach, and of Rock and Rap. And all too few of us really
understand "color", whether we are adept at manipulating our
cellphones or not. And virtual reality developers only now are
getting started on the richness & depth & complexities of
multi-media representation.

And we need them all: because different people communicate in
different ways, on different occasions: a globalizing world so
devoted to "diversity", as the present one is, can ill afford to
block off one particular communication channel in favor of any other.

Should the approach be "combat", rather than "cooperation"? Well,
cooperation does work better, sometimes. But an old definition of
"trade" is "warfare by peaceful means". So Jeanneney's
call-to-arms, in the above, to me gains much in strategy and
tactics to balance its occasional over-simplifications...

No there is not an "anglo-saxon world", as an example of the
latter: Oxford and London friends long have made clear to me just
how separate we in the US and UK are -- and when they haven't,
other friends in Liverpool and Glasgow have -- and just when all
of that begins to look alike, at least comparing it to places
elsewhere on the planet, recent social trends in San Jose
California and in London's Brixton remind me of just how
changeable the most settled circumstances may quickly become.
I'll take Jeanneney or anyone else French on tours of elementary
schools in California or in Greater London, nowadays, and
challenge them to find anything therein easily categorized as
being simply "anglo-saxon".

But Jeanneney knows this, I am sure. Modern France is the same.
He is making merely a strategic and tactical point, in asserting
his "us vs. them" of "Europe vs. 'the anglo-saxons'". It is a
valid question, I believe, how one marshals one's own troops; but
for some causes whatever it takes will do, and I wouldn't
question his judgment on that.

My own position, then, is merely strategic and tactical as well.
Qua American I ought to and in fact do welcome the competition:
the "business of America" being "business"... If France or Europe
or anyone else comes up with strong competition, for Google's new
digital library model, I welcome that: it will strengthen the
Google effort, and add value to the efforts of all. If Europe
does come up with a market entry, I might even buy some more
Google shares... that's "market capitalism"...

Qua strategist and tactician myself, though, I am very concerned
that my own team might become short-sighted, too: might not
realize what the others in the market -- what the customers, in
fact, who always must be heard -- are thinking, and doing. A
mutual misunderstanding problem... India and China, for instance,
both might raise points similar to Jeanneney's "Scarlet
Pimpernel" objections, above; or Vietnam and the Philippines
might do so -- and very justifiably in my own view -- to
American-dominated digital library efforts.

So it is at least in that spirit that I translate and publicize
Jeanneney's remarks here: US and other digital library developers
all need to see, and consider, the whole picture -- and it has
been my own experience, since the very invention of the public
Internet, and certainly since the beginnings of "The Web" and
"digital libraries", that digital development tends to focus on
its own navel, on itself, and too often in documents which have
been written only in English.

There is a bigger world out there. Here a leading exponent of
that "non-English-speaking world" is presenting his views. We
would do well to listen very carefully. He is critical, and he
makes points which appeal far beyond our pocketbooks, to opinions
and ideals of equality and diversity and fairness which we hold
as dear as he does. There also is simply the impoverishment of
our own effort, which would result from excluding him and the
others. And there are more of him than there are of us; and,
finally, they are at the very least "the customers".

Together, albeit in competition, we and the Europeans and many
others _all_ might fashion a better "information" world, using
different digital library techniques which -- like the oral &
written & printed "word" historically -- do not replace but in
fact will complement one another.

So, on the US listening once again here to the French, perhaps
ironically it is as Kent warned Lear, about blunt and honest
views being more useful than flattery:

"thy youngest daughter does not love thee least... see
better, Lear."


FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916

| FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
| journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
| personal experiment, in the creation of large-
| scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
/ \ Any material written by me which appears in
----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for
// \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me
--------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it
// \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going

to make them money, they must get my permission
in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me.
Use of material written by others requires their permission.
FYI France archives may be found at
(search fyifrance), or[at]
(BIBLIO-FR archive), or
(PACS-L archive) or . Suggestions,
reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all will be
gratefully received at kessler[at] .

Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
all rights reserved except as indicated above.


4. Critiquing (and defending) Google on COLLIB-L

The following is a thread from COLLIB-L regarding Google's current
big initiatives.

Paul Wiener participated in the thread, but his comments do not appear
here (except in quotation by others), only because I was unable to reach
him for permission prior to publication. I regret the omission.

- Rory Litwin

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[COLLIB-L:1073] Critiquing Google (from a library perspective)
Date: 02/15/05 02:08 pm
From: "Sloan, Bernie" <bernies[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

Samuel Trosow of the University of Western Ontario made the following
comment on the liblicense list, regarding the library community's
reaction to various Google initiatives:

"For the most part, Google is seen as some sort of savior, and most of
the reaction from the library community has been uncritical."

I'm interested in hearing critical comments about Google and its
initiatives, from the perspective of how these initiatives have the
potential to impact libraries and library services. Feel free to
contribute your own comments, or to point me to the comments of others.

I'll begin by alerting you to Roy Tennant's column in the new (February
15) issue of Library Journal:

Tennant, Roy. Google Out of Print. Library Journal, 130(3). February 15,

Bernie Sloan
Senior Library Information Systems Consultant, ILCSO
University of Illinois Office for Planning and Budgeting
616 E. Green Street, Suite 213
Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: (217) 333-4895
Fax: (217) 265-0454
E-mail: bernies[at]

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Date: 02/15/05 03:26 pm
From: "Damon D. Hickey" <dhickey[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

I find Tennant's critique truly bizarre. Until Google announced this
initiative, we were all moaning about the fact that our students
didn't know that a world of information (or even history itself)
existed prior to the 1980s, when most of the first electronic indexes
began. We agonized over the fact that more and more libraries were
putting older books into remote storage where they were even less
likely to be consulted than when they were browsable on a library's
shelves. Now we're worried that the "Tyranny of the New" is about to
be replaced by the "Invasion of the Pre-1923 Imprints"?

I'm not about to wax eloquent about Google's digitizing project until
it's clearer what's going on. But neither am I going to sound an
alarm about it. For better or for worse, librarians in the U.S. and
Canada have been working hard for more than a century to increase the
public's unmediated access to information, first by opening stacks to
the public, then through interlibrary loan, and now through
electronic indexes and online full-text. In that effort, Google has
become a literal partner with us.

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Date: 02/15/05 03:55 pm
From: Jack Kessler <kessler[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

I think Roy's column is pretty good on this subject, Paul, and
Damon. He states the case well for librarians being careful about
the Google project, certainly.

I am a fan of Google's project. I do agree though with Roy's
well-phrased warning, "wholesale digitization is no more a good
thing than buying books based on color". The project could damage
the old and fragile books. And per JNJeanneney and others its
selection procedures could have severe and long-lasting impacts
on our culture(s). So librarians do have to be careful: it's a
point very worth making.

Roy doesn't advocate your "big breakfast to select the top
100,000 books", Paul: dyspeptic event... Libraries have been
selecting since Assurbanipal: lots of precedent, and plenty of
established procedures -- none of it without controversies, but
at least controversies which are old and well-established.

Roy's point is different: "plan, then scan", he says -- good
advice. And Roy asks a question posed by Jeanneney: "What does
Google want out of all this?"

Google has some very good marketers. But I hope they realize that
it is a suspicious world, out there, and that such questions
require consideration in the marketing: books aren't just
"widgets", information isn't just "data" -- the marketing of
their digital library project will have to be a very soft and
subtle and accommodating "sell".

And it is bound, now, to meet with some competition -- and I say
good for them and good for Google -- that was Jeanneney's real
point, I believe. And Roy's warning to Google that the world is
waiting to hear more about all of this, particularly about
Google's own compensation, makes the point as well.

Jack Kessler, kessler[at]

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Date: 02/16/05 07:39 pm
From: Jack Kessler <kessler[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

Paul Wiener said,

> What does "plan, then scan" mean? Is it supposed to convince
> people that planning is actually something librarians do well

No it is simply a plea for that. Also for the inclusion of
librarians in the process which Google et al. are undertaking.
I expect this is what Roy Tennant had in mind when he said it.
You'll have to ask him. But I'd be in favor, myself, of including
librarians, and of doing some advance planning: before old paper
gets crushed, and ancient book bindings mangled -- and, per
Jeanneney, French & Chinese & other collections neglected...

I am as impatient as the next person is, with committee meetings,
and protracted academic arguments, and hair-splitting about murky
issues and unproven techniques. So I applaud Google's initiative
and their "forging ahead": we need these old books digitized
before they simply disappear, I agree.

But I would feel better if there were "nothing to lose" by
proceeding. Some projects have that luxury. In this case, though,
we have a great deal to lose, if we mangle the books -- or if we
rile the rest of the literary world by imposing our "anglo-saxon"
(the BNF president's term, not mine) values in some hamfisted way.

So a few meetings, with librarians in attendance and giving real
input, plus a little cultural sensitivity -- and perhaps even
some overseas competition -- would be good things, here.

> Plan for whom, for what, for when?... the world comprises
> thousands of plans... All plans make different selections.
> All are idiosyncratic... since Assurbanipal...

And as it ever will be... Yes, that is the situation, the
question now being how best to deal with all of that variety.

The Google initiative is great news. The problem now is
implementation: how Google's effort will be accomplished -- what
librarians in fact are involved?, and what input do they and will
they really have? -- and whether other competing efforts, such as
the one proposed by the BNF's Jeanneney, will materialize to
balance Google. We can't have "one size fits all": it never does.

> I could never say for certain which ones... and neither could
> anyone else - not librarians any more than scholars, bankers or
> tree surgeons.

Yes, but book selection and weeding and de-accessioning at least
are known issues, in libraryland -- well-discussed, with
well-framed policies and procedures for dealing with them -- yet
again a matter of not "reinventing the wheel", in digital
information, with regard to very old and potentially very
difficult library policy problems.

Simply "digitizing it all" is no solution: that is part of Roy's
point that "wholesale digitization is no more a good thing than
buying books based on color" -- we never would get it "all" --
there always is a selection decision being made, albeit hidden,
and the goal is to make such decisions as rationally as possible.

Pretending, for example, that the collections of a few "great
libraries" in the US and UK will be at all representative, of the
world outside of what he labels the "anglo-saxon" sphere, is one
thing that riles the BNF's Jeanneney: his nightmare of "Scarlet
Pimpernel" approaches predominating, in resources on his own
nation's cherished Revolution -- librarians in China and India,
and Vietnam, and Iraq, all could add their own similar examples.

> There is not time, nor world enough, to conserve what is
> disappearing before our eyes.

Yes there is... The process is under way already. Anything
published nowadays, including reprints, first appears in digital
format now: publishers no longer accept manuscript, insisting on
diskettes -- retyping from handwriting was eliminated from their
cost structures long ago. So the "texts" are largely digital,
already, and with republication they are becoming moreso.

That won't save all of the texts, no. And publisher backlists are
no less jealously guarded in digital formats than they are in
print. But a great many of the most popular older texts are
seeing the light of day now in digital, and all of the new ones.
So the conservation situation is dire, but not dire enough to
make serious mistakes which might threaten such a valuable
corpus: fragile paper, fragile bindings, cultural hegemony fears...

And we are discussing here not "preservation" so much as
"access": a specific plan for providing access, in fact -- and a
number of people, the BNF's Jeanneney and myself included, see no
reason why only one such plan should be undertaken. Jeanneney's
Le Monde article basically is an appeal for another.

> And you can't preserve the physical perfection of an artifact
> (a rare book) without accepting the consequences of
> regenerating its contents. (That's why we have the Morgan and
> Huntington and British libraries).

I don't understand the points you make in the above: either the
one about "accepting the consequences of regenerating its
contents" -- surely we have to work towards the best consequences
we can, before we decide to accept them? -- or your suggestion
that the Morgan & Huntington & BL exist simply to preserve and
not to provide access, if that is what you are saying?

> Scanning of everything we have should be done swiftly and
> completely (though it won't be) ;

No, it won't, and I hope it won't, because speed is an important
but not the only parameter to be weighed, here. Again I refer you
to the risk to the books, which once destroyed by a faulty
scanning process no longer are available for reference, an
irrecoverable and catastrophic loss. Not such a problem, with an
industrial process focussing upon a more fungible commodity: you
can always get more wheat, to grind in your mill -- but it is
harder to replace a unique old book, if your mill damages that.

Also, "completeness" begs the preservation and access question,
here, which is precisely that one never can be "complete". The
chimerical dreams of "universal bibliography" always have relied
upon freezing culture in time, at a given moment: linking all of
that together was a difficult enough goal -- but let that culture
move, as cultures do, and the goal becomes impossible to the
point of being silly.

Umberto Eco does a good job, on the silliness of such dreams, in
his "The search for the perfect language" (1995): category
mistake at best, to imagine perfection in such an imperfect and
ever-changing thing as language, or as bibliography. We need a
process, not completeness: this digital library preservation
project never will be "over".

> then we can afford to sit and pick and choose which works we
> care to download onto our brain stem and which we care to
> ignore - until we transfer them again to another format

Theoretically that might be the best plan. But it won't happen
that way: never does -- by the time we secure detailed agreement,
on what to keep and what to de-accession, paper acidity and fungi
will have taken care of whatever 19th c. printed books we have
left -- also we'll all be dead, because such a committee meeting
will last several lifetimes at least.

The process definitely needs a "mover": one with courage or maybe
innocence enough to push things forward energetically -- and with
deep pockets, and imagination -- perhaps like Google.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our best on the process,
does it? Google is both a bright and a tough-minded bunch. They
have the daring, and the imagination, and the deep pockets. But
they don't know it all. They never would have gotten to where
they are now, if they had assumed that.

The rest of the digital and non-digital library worlds owe it to
them, and to the rest of us, to offer to Google what wisdom about
all of this may be imparted, before the expensive and disastrous
"pioneering" mistakes are made.

And some others in libraryland, such as M. Jeanneney and the
Europeans, just might make their own stabs at "out-Googling
Google"; which would be OK, I think -- some competition, and
alternative approaches, would be a good thing too.

> (how about books encoded into DNA? Or committing whole books to
> memory, as in Fahrenheit 451?)

OK with the memorization. Keanu Reeves' DNA, though, not mine.

Jack Kessler, kessler[at]

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Date: 02/16/05 07:59 pm
From: "Drew, Bill" <drewwe[at]MORRISVILLE.EDU>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
CC: <bill_drew.elliott[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

I am getting tired of librarians whining about what Google is doing.
All of our whining and hand ringing will not make it go away. Lets work
with them, not against them. Lets give them our input but do not expect
them to close up shop because we are afraid of their competition. I
personally think Google Scholar and Google Print are great ideas. I am
working on getting the Wag the Wag the Dog bookmarklet to work with our
SFX server and our ALEPH server. The discussion has been good but has
now turned to whining. Google will not put us out of business anymore
than Amazon has.

Bill Drew

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Date: Thursday 01:26:21 pm
From: "Strauber, Christopher " <StrauberC[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

I would go further than Joanne and Bill. Google is trying to do what we
should be doing ourselves, provide access to our collections in a way
which makes sense to our users. The library catalog is a brilliant piece
of 19th-century technology designed to solve the problem of providing
access to the contents of books using only a collection of 3 x 5 cards.
It is a system that has worked well for us for many years, and for many
years it has been the only possible approach to the problem. It isn't
now. That's what the Google announcement says to me: We are not the only
game in town anymore.

Chris Strauber
Reference & Web Services Librarian
Wofford College
Spartanburg, SC

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Date: Thursday 03:56:36 pm
From: Jack Kessler <kessler[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

Damon said,

> Google is partnering with libraries, not competing with them.
> The fact that some of the folks in the libraries they're
> working with are still fuzzy about how it's all going to happen
> doesn't mean that Google is trying to put them out of business
> or that Google expects to do it all without their input. Google
> has the technical know-how...

Do they? How are they going to do it? I mean the scanning and
book-handling so as not to damage the books, mostly... Other
scanning projects I've heard of have had difficulties with that.
If anyone has precise details of the exact machinery and
procedures Google intends to use, so as to protect the books
during all of this, I hope they will post that here.

Jack Kessler, kessler[at]

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Date: Thursday 07:26:05 pm
From: "Mark Gooch" <mgooch[at]>
To: College Libraries Section <COLLIB-L[at]>
Reply to: COLLIB-L[at]

I have been in touch with folks at U of Mich. because they have a number
of government documents that will be included in the materials to be
scanned. They are receiving archive-quality tiffs from Google (600
dpi). Among these documents will be many old Serial Set volumes. There
are currently 2 commercial digital Serial Set products out there that
cost from about $50,000 to over $100,000. I don't know of too many
libraries that have been able to afford these products. In the not too
distant future we will probably have a free alternative to at least part
of the Serial Set compliments of Google.

Will materials be damaged via this process, possibly. However, if the
items are so fragile then they probably aren't usable by patrons in
their current format. This makes their contents inaccessible. If they
can at least be digitized then the contents have been preserved and, in
fact, access to them has been dramatically increased. There may be a
little sacrifice involved.

As for the "good Google/bad Google" debate I agree that we should try to
work with them. Admit it, we all use Google. Why? Because it usually
finds the information we are looking for when used appropriately. And
what is the secret of their success? Mostly it's the algorithm they
have developed to rank results. We know bits and pieces of how it works
but not the complete picture. But how does this algorithm work
differently for Google Scholar? Does it still factor in the number of
sites that link to an item? I don't know. What are its limitations,
the number of scholarly resources it has access to index? Some people
may or may not acknowledge it but our library catalogs can be confusing
to our patrons. What if Google's algorithm could be modified and
applied to our library catalogs? We would still be controlling the
content via our MARC record selection. I'm not advocating that tomorrow
we all dump our opacs in favor of the Google search engine but I've been
recently pondering these thoughts.


Mark D. Gooch
Government Information Librarian
The College of Wooster Libraries


ISSN 1544-9378

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