Within one month Google announced two projects that will have profound implications for the future of librarianship.
First up in November 2004 was Google Scholar
]. Currently in beta, Scholar
aims to provide access to scholarly materials via the crisp and familiar Google search box. The results pages display the number of other citations to the resource in the Scholar
database, in a manner reminiscent of the "cited by" search feature within Thomson-ISI's Web of Science
The unveiling of Scholar
caused a flurry of excitement, and even the creation of the somewhat pretentious blog "On Google Scholar
]. At New York University Medical Center a doctor spontaneously brought up Scholar
in conversation with me, and it also stimulated discussion at an international conference about grey literature in early December.
Soon the Scholar buzz was overshadowed by the December announcement that Google has entered into a partnership to digitize the materials of five leading research libraries: Harvard, Oxford, Michigan, Stanford, and the New York Public Library (NYPL). Terms of agreement vary between libraries. For example, Michigan and Stanford will provide access to the full range of their materials, while Harvard has authorized a pilot of 40,000 volumes. Depending on the copyright restrictions of the material in question, searchers will be able to browse all or part of it.
The principal rationale for this project is that it will democratize access to the intellectual resources of elite institutions. In addition, integrating library resources into Google will hopefully entice those students who might never consult a library catalog. To reach these students, Harvard plans to develop a seamless link between Google searches conducted at Harvard and Harvard's online catalog [3
The library material represents a radical expansion of the Google Print
]. Searchers would not search for books specifically; instead, Google would highlight books within the results of a normal Google search. The library material will support the same e-commerce stream as the rest of Google Print
. Contextual advertising would be integrated into the search results, and it is likely that searchers will be pointed to online book vendors.
Whereas the excitement about Scholar was concentrated in research circles, the Google Print projects received widespread public attention. The New York Times considered this to be the lead news item for December 14, and it was a major topic on the National Public Radio (NPR) show "Talk of the Nation" on December 15. The show's guests included Michael Keller, Stanford University Librarian, and Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.
The Internet Archive launched a very similar digitization project as Google Print
on the same day, which was buried in the flood of news about Google [5
]. Kahle's efforts are worthy of wide promotion. His project has none of the nettlesome concerns facing Google Print
, which I will describe later.
continues to generate significant discussion. One recent example is the March 2005 issue of American Libraries
, which features a colloquium entitled, "Google at the Gate" [6
]. As all librarians know, Google is the default search engine for millions of users. Because of this, it is essential that we critically examine both the benefits and shortcomings of Google Scholar
and Google Print