Google Library Book project

Google continues to change the library landscape. It was known that the Google mass digitization project (the Library Book project) would affect libraries, but only recently has the depth of that effect been made clear. You may have heard about the court case that was launched against Google by the Authors Guild (isn’t that a quaint name!) and the Association of American Publishers. The suit alleged that Google was massively breaking copyright and the two organizations were representing the authors and copyright holders (not necessarily the same thing).

On October 28, 2008, an agreement was signed between the parties (full text is at An analysis of the agreement was recently released by ALA and the Association of Research Libraries at This analysis is eye opening.  Some surprises: 1) Free Public Access Service for Public Libraries and Universities; and 2) Licensing potential by those same entities of the entire book database that is being created.

Though the agreement is complicated, from my reading it means that:

1) The full-text of the digitized book will be available to the Google search engine.

2) When you find a public domain book – it will be freely available.

3) When the book is still “in-copyright” and not commercially available, there will be a preview and then users will be offered fee-based downloading/printing ability. Libraries will be able to license this content either by topic or by the entire database for their patrons.

3) The free access will be just that – viewing Access only and only from designated terminals (not from home or office).  Printing from these Public Access Service (PAS) terminals will be at a per page charge. No copying/pasting or annotation will be allowed.

4) Annotation will be allowed on some books under the licensing arrangement. What will this look like? That is one of the exciting questions, as far as I am concerned.

This is all just another instance, of the library world changing as LISSA members enter it. It is very exciting.


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