By Juliana Adelman
Even if you are not a user of Google Book Search, you cannot afford to ignore its existence. If you are a published author Google may already have scanned your book(s) and may be allowing people to search their full text via the web. And of course surrounding it with ads based on the content. If your book isn’t up yet, just wait a while. They are scanning thousands of volumes every single day. In some ways Google Book Search could be, and already is, a great boon to historical research. For books that are scanned you can search them in ways not previously possible, finding needle after needle in the printed haystack. But authors and publishers are concerned about the impact on the publishing industry and on copyright, librarians are waiting for the bad news on the price of yet another subscription search engine and historians have been critical of the errors already being propagated. Let’s take the publishing industry first. Good luck to you trying to read the Google Book Settlement. To summarise: Google has made an arrangement with authors and publishers in the US which allows them to keep scanning. If you don’t want your book to appear as part of their database, even if you are not based in the US, you have to opt out of the settlement. Cle recently held an information session on this subject. To opt out, just go to Google’s site above and follow instructions. As for figuring out what the right choice is…There is little information targeted at the academic world. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is thought-provoking, but as far as I know no university has chosen to take a stand on this. Aside from the impact on individual authors, the future impact on libraries and on research might be enormous. If Google Book Search becomes a subscrption service this means not only that a single corporation is in control of an extremely powerful resource, but that those outside of institutions who can afford such a resource may be disadvantaged. On the other hand, some historians don’t think the resource is everything it’s cracked up to be. Although the debate has largely passed over Ireland, we really can’t ignore it. It’s going to affect all of us and the future of our discipline profoundly.