The Google-brary in 2020

What could have been a boring copyright discussion or a battle-royal over the impact of Google’s digitization project proved to be an evening of wit and fascinating commentary—thanks to the hosting skills of the droll and clever Canadian, Stephen Abram, and his sharp-tongued panel of commentators (all over-40 males plus the voice of Searcher Editor Barbara Quint wafting in via speaker phone). Abram asked the panel to project into the future and talk about what it’s like in 2020, after we’ve built the “megalibrary.”

If you want a detailed blow-by-blow of the entire discussion, Liz Lawley posted to her blog shortly after the event (while I went to the bar in the Portola – thanks Liz!). Here it is:

But, here are some of the notable quotes from the evening’s entertainment.
From Adam Smith, senior business product manager for Google Print: “The notorious snippet is just 3 short excerpts. We’re not giving away the entire book – and this is allowed under fair use.”

From Rich Wiggins, senior information technologist, Michigan State University: “I don’t know if it’s 2020 or 2040, but we’re going to get to the vision that Google has articulated. They’ve forced us to think big. There are technical hurdles, as well as legal and political hurdles.”

From Roy Tennant of the California Digital Library: “Digital does not make print go away and never will. When we’ve put digital up, the print sales go up. Libraries have never been just about stuff, they’ve been about service. What will we be doing – I haven’t a clue. But I’m excited.”

From Mark Sandler, collection development officer, University of Michigan: “The Internet Librarian conference will be called the Librarian conference. ALA will be called the Print conference…Lots of libraries are going to disappear… We’re going to have to give up what we cherish and develop new strategies.”

From Steve Arnold of Arnold Information Technology: “We’re seeing the kind of innovation that emerges when you have smart people who are given the time to play. This is a critical point – an inflection point. This is an opportunity to reinvent publishing.”

Rich and Roy will be facing off over Google’s plans in tomorrow morning’s keynote (actually it’s already tomorrow as I post this). They will probably revisit some of this evening’s discussion and the debate will surely be lively, as their visions for the future seem quite divergent. Don’t miss it—9 AM in the San Carlos Ballroom.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

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