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August 18, 2005
How Do We Preserve "Essence of Library"?
Laura Quilter provides an excellent guided tour through the debate here and elsewhere over the Google Print library project, then goes much, much further, asking what we should do next if we want to 1.) preserve what's good about traditional libraries and 2.) fulfill the promise of today's (and tomorrow's) digital libraries:
Read the whole thing
But most librarians, myself included, want to preserve BOTH today's model of the library: the brick-and-mortar warehouse-and-cataloger-of-physical-media (which I do think will always be around) AND the idea of the library: the collector and provider of information. So the question is, how, or why, do we copyfighters / librarians / information activists / legal scholars distinguish Google Print in a way that doesn't hurt Essence of Library down the line? And why, tactically, should we? Maybe, we should focus on building a more robust fair use, fixing 109 so it works with digital media, or even adding in more 108 exemptions. Or maybe on the DMCA Library of Congress anticircumvention comment rounds that are coming up again.
Update: Siva Vaidhyanathan discusses some of the ways traditional libraries nurture society and culture, distinguishing these from Google's access and indexing "powers":
Libraries pump the life blood of a democratic culture and a democratic republic: culture and information. They are places people escape from each other (imagine a gay teenager growing up in Boise without a library). And -- more importantly -- they are places where people come together.
The presumption that Google's powers of indexing and access come close to working as a library ignores all that libraries mean to the lives of their users.
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