FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

December 15, 2009 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on December 15, 2009.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:

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GoogleBooks, the digital library wars


Robert Darnton has weighed in, once more, on the issues of digital libraries, and Google, and book digitization -- and on whether a sizeable portion of the world's intellectual property, and of its history, are being handed over now to a giant American corporation.

Here are a few excerpts from what he says: current issue, Dec 17, of the New York Review of Books -- la lutte continue, news from the front --

"Google and the New Digital Future"
By Robert Darnton

[First a remarkable foray into Deep Context: the sort of intellectual flight of fancy so dear to the French and to those who love them, yet too often incomprehensible to others -- still, well-met and read by anyone wishing to understand where all this GoogleBooks and digital library concern "really" fits -- from the silver pen of the author of The Great Cat Massacre --]

-- it's all part of, Darnton contends --

-- after many months of discussion, and over 400 amicus briefs and memoranda, the pluses and minuses of the project now are apparent, Darnton says -- the plus-side --

-- and a few of the many minuses, now-emerging from the many debates --

-- yet it seems that, so far at least, the US courts still are just "muddling through" --

-- Darnton is greatly interested, as are most of us here, in the international aspects of this local US legal squabble --

-- as some Europeans may not be aware, their own national governments have become officially involved --

-- I find myself reaching to find the relevance of such cultural chest-beating, nationalistic no less, to the Google undertaking, extraordinary and far-reaching as the latter may be -- things turn hysterical, perhaps -- it appears that to Darnton it seems a stretch as well --

-- and Darnton, forever the raconteur, gets in some entertaining digs --



The national governments have some ideas, about how Google's book digitization project ought to turn out -- them plus a September 7 EC hearing attended by inter alia the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associates (EBLIDA), and the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER) -- and the US government, too, is concerned about antitrust -- Darnton provides succinct summmaries.

-- and Darnton has given the matter much thought himself --

-- or --

-- and then Darnton gets really idealistic --

-- and he even sees a role for, *gasp*, librarians! --

-- in sum, according to Darnton --


Robert Darnton is a thinker and writer well worth following, on all the above points:

Well worth reading, then: Darnton provides intelligent and well-informed syntheses of the mountain of legalistic gobbledygook thus far assembled in the GoogleBooks skirmishes of the digital library wars -- an author who knows the issues well, particularly their increasingly multi-cultural and trans-national dimensions, and who really can write --

Some previous sources -- Darnton on GoogleBooks


So I expect this latest New York Review of Books / NYRB article, described initially here, will not be Darnton's last usefully-demystifying pronouncement, on GoogleBooks. And, for comparison and even some contrast, the somewhat more sanguine views of this same author several years ago may be of interest, too --

-- that was back when Google and the rest of us all were new at this -- digital libraries, and digital information generally, being nothing if not a "moving target", for all of us.

Merry Christmas!


Jack Kessler,







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