My introduction to Library Science course required us to form groups and come up with posters, for a poster session. Each group was to select a controversial topic facing libraries and provide the facts/opinions of the opposing sides. The group I was in took a look at Google Books and how it could affect libraries and their patrons. The copyright issues are being mitigated but the relationship of Google and public libraries has yet to be seen.
I entered our poster into a couple of poster sessions, one at Syracuse University and another at the New York Library Association Conference. Our abstract is as follows:
Philippe Cloutier, Anna Midthun, and Megan Wianecki
Does Google Book undermine public libraries?
Google Books is an online searchable database of full-text material. Google partners with libraries to scan their materials and display them on the web. When seeking a book will users go to Google Books instead of the public library? Or will Google Books help libraries serve their users more efficiently?
While Google Books seems philanthropic their motivations are profit based. Google makes money through advertising. They offer web services that display advertisements, as can be seen with Google search, Gmail, and now- Google Books. The library partners are overwhelmingly academic. Academic libraries have the most to gain and the least to lose. Their user base is normally constant and viable, mainly: students, faculty, and researchers. Google Books most drastically affects public libraries with fluctuating community patrons. Aiding Google Books could be viewed as violating the ALA Code of Ethics �VI. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions�.
However, digitizing material, cataloging it, and providing access to it is an expensive endeavor. Library time and money is being saved with Google�s efforts. Furthermore, most of the titles fully available in Google Books are public domain. Copyrighted material is displayed with limited/snippet views. This could push more patrons to the library looking to obtain this material. Our poster provides the basic facts of Google Books and the ethical dilemmas being raised.