Google will want my U of M library books, eventually…

As has been widely reported (here’s a link from WIRED and here’s a link from BBC News), Google is going to be scanning the books of a handful of libraries around the US and England, including the quaint liberal arts school in Ann Arbor.

The Ann Arbor News has an article about all this in yesterday’s paper, too. Among other things, it says that no money is changing hands (and Google isn’t saying how much this is going to cost), and they think they are going to be able to scan all the books in about six years. Hmmm… given that the U of Michigan Libraries has around seven million volumes, I think I’ll believe it when I see it.

This sounds pretty cool, but for me, two questions remain:

* What’s going to happen with copyright and “ownership” of these materials?

* How are patrons going to “read” this stuff? Right now, U of M (and EMU, for that matter) has some “books” that are available electronically, and reading/browsing them is an enormous pain. You have to be online to browse them, it’s a web-based interface, you can’t take notes really, it’s hard to copy and paste passages, etc. The searchability element will be great, but will library patrons of the near future be able to download this stuff to some kind of reader? We’ll see….

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