I have written several times about Google Books and occasionally about Microsoft Books. Those two organizations are working with some major libraries to scan millions of older books. However, some libraries are no longer cooperating. They do not like the restrictions placed by those companies.
Several libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available.
Google pays to scan the books and does not directly profit from the resulting Web pages, although the books make its search engine more useful and more valuable. However, Google does not allow the scanned books to be made available on other commercial search services. Microsoft Books has somewhat similar restrictions. Some libraries, like the Boston Public Library and the Smithsonian Institution, refuse to accept such restrictions. Instead, they are now affiliating with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available.
Last month, the Boston Library Consortium of 19 research and academic libraries in New England that includes the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts, said it would work with the Open Content Alliance to begin digitizing the books among the libraries’ 34 million volumes whose copyright had expired. These 19 libraries are not willing to accept the restrictions that are in the Google and Microsoft agreements.
“We understand the commercial value of what Google is doing, but we want to be able to distribute materials in a way where everyone benefits from it,” said Bernard A. Margolis, President of the Boston Public Library, which has in its collection roughly 3,700 volumes from the personal library of John Adams.
It is interesting to note that Bernie Margolis of the Boston Public Library is well known as one of the leading library experts of today. His opinions will carry considerable weight.
You can read more about these issues in the New York Times at http://tinyurl.com/2mzhbb.
NOTE: The New York Times often places articles online for only a few days but then removes them. The article is available as I write these words but may disappear soon.
My thanks to Amelia James for telling me about this article.