Friday, March 11, 2005

Don't Get Goggle-Eyed Over Google's Plan to Digitize

[Again, my apologies to readers who are not Chronicle subscribers. But this is an excellent opinion piece.]

In an excellent contribution to the debate on the future of libraries, Mark Y. Herring, dean of library services at Winthrop University, has written an excellent Point of View column for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here are the concluding paragraphs:

      "What kind of advertising will Google use to pay at least some of the costs of digitization? Academics tend to be particularly allergic to ads and other distractions on their computer screens. Google already relies on ads to cover its costs; presumably it will do the same for digitization. Would scholars tolerate having an ad about, say, erectile dysfunction pop up as they read Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin, in order to have the work digitized?

      "The digitized "library" would undeniably be for picking and choosing, not really for reading. Is that the attitude toward books that we want to encourage -- the view that sound bites are more important than substantive thought?

      "Those are not necessarily insurmountable obstacles for Google. However, they are formidable.

      "Besides, the portability, convenience, and even comfort of a book are integral components of our intellectual lives. No one has yet made a convincing case that it's time to give up on books -- or libraries."

Ahhhh. A man after my own heart....


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