Library Journal's Editorial for this month attempts to address the "Google" phenomenon. But clearly the editor, Francine Fialkoff, misses the point. She frets about copyright issues, damage to print materials, and sees sales of books as a major concern for Google's project.
The point she misses is that while Amazon's Search Inside the Book feature has resulted in increased sales for Amazon, the analogy for libraries is that the Google service will likely result in patrons coming to the library to read the books that aren't readily available in the marketplace! It is my firm belief that a patron that finds Blackstone on Google, won't download the full text to his/her computer or handheld and read it in electronic format; rather, they will most likely either print it out or go the library and check it out. Printing the classic work will take reams of paper, and purchasing it will cost more than most consumers want to pay for an academic read.
I think that the time is ripe for libraries to begin thinking about expanding reading rooms. Particularly in their rare book rooms!
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