Google as Library Redux


Google claims to want to organize all the world’s information, a role that at least in some part has traditionally been filled by Libraries. Thus it was with some interest that I saw an announcement that there will be a panelĀ  discussion at JCDL 2009, “Google as Library – Redux,” featuring Michael Lesk, Clifford Lynch, and Gretchen Hoffman.

This is surely likely to be a contentious topic, and one that would benefit from contributions of those who may not be able to make it to the conference. Thus the organizers have created a form to collect questions and comments to pose to the panelists.

Please post your questions! Alternatively, please feel free to add them as comments on this post, and I will forward them to the organizers (with or without attribution — your choice!). After the conference, I will summarize the discussion and highlight the interesting bits.


  1. jeremy says:

    I have a question about their book scanning project. Google has claimed that this project is their moonshot, their most ambitious, long-term goal. But it is unclear to me how they really envision people doing search over all the scanned books, especially given Google’s unswerving, precision-oriented focus on only really showing 3-4 results to your 2-3 word query. That is to say, the Googly way of doing things is to only give you a single line to enter your query, which results in shorter queries — Nick Belkin did a study on this. And then when you do get the results back, Google fills the top and sides with ads (3 on top and 8 on the side) which results in only 3-4 organic results appearing above the fold.

    So if Google is The Library, is this the way that we are going to interact with the library in the future? Is this the Google vision for organizing all the world’s information? Is Book Search really only about precision, known-item information seeking? Will there be any exploration? Any synthesis of knowledge? Any discovery of patterns and trends and other such rich information interaction?

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