Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Books Google The Courts United States News

Librarians Express Concern Over Google Books 144

Posted by timothy
from the pesky-librarians dept.
angry tapir writes "Many libraries routinely delete borrower information, and organizations such as the American Library Association have fought hard to preserve the privacy of their patrons in the face of laws such as the US Patriot Act. But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Librarians Express Concern Over Google Books

Comments Filter:
  • Torrents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:11AM (#29259037)
    Ha!
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Exactly, private mirrors, torrents, friends sharing to friends, all that are good cures to this deficiency in privacy.
      • Re:Torrents (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lysergic.acid (845423) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:22AM (#29262215) Homepage

        Yea, but torrents still don't have the selection (or diversity of subjects) of books that libraries have. I've tried to find a lot of fairly popular books, but aside from well-known classics or very very mainstream titles (e.g. Harry Potter), you'll be hard pressed to find on torrents. And even then, book torrents tend to have very short shelf-lives (no pun intended). I often come across torrents of books I'm searching for, only to find that they were posted 2-3 years ago and are long dead.

        Google Book Search was such a promising project. And the company itself has proven to be trustworthy (with them resisting government subpoenas and fighting to withhold user data from government agencies, unlike some other megacorporations). I was so disappointed when it was complaints over copyright violations by publishers rather than any technological or resource limitations that crippled the project (basically killing the project as it was originally conceived). So instead of giving every child, every student, and indeed every person with a computer and internet connection, free and instant access to all the literature humanity has ever published (ie. the largest corpus of human knowledge ever compiled) in a fully indexed, cataloged, and searchable digital format, we instead just have a small dappling of publisher-provided promotional samples of old, semi-obscure texts that aren't selling that well in stores.

        Somehow we decided as a society (we're supposedly a "democracy" after all) that commercial profits are more important than the huge boon to society that such a cultural & informational/educational resource would have been. It would have been less of an affront if it had been a coalition of authors who objected to the project's existence in its original form. And even if publishers are worried that this would have threatened their profits, it would have been far more preferable to work out some kind of deal in which the digital library would be publicly-subsidized, with that money being used to compensate publishers (within reason). I'd be willing to pay more in taxes to support such a project.

        Just like public education caused a cultural revolution (or evolution) in our society, I imagine making published materials so much more accessible, and to so many more people, in one fell swoop would have similarly caused an intellectual revolution (internationally). Every computer would immediately become the largest library in the world. Access to books won't ever be limited by the number of physical copies available. Out of print books would never again be lost to society. And people for whom the library is currently not accessible—whether because they have none located near them, lack transportation, are bed-ridden, are blind, or have been subjected to a recent book-burning campaign—would benefit unimaginably from such a resource. I mean, you could go to rural village in a poor developing country, and as long as they had a phone line (you could even get internet access by satellite) you'd be able to set up a $300 computer with a screen reader and give the children in that village access to all the books ever published, even if everyone in the village is illiterate.

        The internet itself has been a huge boon to society, but as useful as it is now, it would be a million times more useful if copyright issues took backseat to societal progress and public good.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Yvanhoe (564877)
          I remember the first glorious days of file sharing. Categoryzing, tagging, all was done by the community and worked fairly well. Torrents are a mess because they are illegal. Make it legal and expect dozens of website to propose huge online librairies correctly sorted.
  • Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:11AM (#29259043) Journal

    Don't these hard copy books still exist after Google has "digitized" them? If you re concerned over your privacy, simply go to the physical library as you would have before the digitization.

    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moby Cock (771358) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:15AM (#29259065) Homepage
      Well, yes, that is an option. The point of the article is that people may have an expectation of privacy where none actually exists. This misunderstanding could be the source of problems down stream.
      • Re:Question (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:23AM (#29259103)

        The "counterview" would be that virtually all internet users by now know that the government is, or should be treated as being, able to look up every keystroke they have made on the internet, if the government ever wants to. I certainly use the internet with that view.

        • by Krneki (1192201)

          The "counterview" would be that virtually all internet users by now know that the government is, or should be treated as being, able to look up every keystroke they have made on the internet, if the government ever wants to. I certainly use the internet with that view.

          If you are that paranoid buy an offshore VPN or SSH account. And enjoy your Anonymous Coward surfing. :)

      • by RobVB (1566105)
      • Re:Question (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jafiwam (310805) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:43AM (#29259749) Homepage Journal
        It is my opinion that folk who make this mistake will do so long before it becomes important for books.

        Those people will put up pot-smoking in underwear pictures on Facebook or MySpace long before they have any political views worth anything. (At least to the _government_, let's face it, the librarians are worried about _governments_ with this information.)

        Then, they will learn the hard lesson by being busted, denied a job, denied a slot in graduate school, or just basically ridiculed.

        This will happen years before they get to the point where they might be a) reading interesting books b) that are on some "watch list".

        With Google having the information, it's not as bad as one might think. Any jackass county sheriff or otherwise corrupt Barney Fyfe can walk into a library. While at this point the only government folk able to get much out of Google are the feds.

        Either way, someone wanting to anonymously get information should use BitTorrent. There are TONS of books out there in PDF and other formats.
      • Maybe the private option (Google) will put the public option (The Library) out of business. It's kind of a reverse of the healthcare debate.
        • by VJ42 (860241) *

          Maybe the private option (Google) will put the public option (The Library) out of business. It's kind of a reverse of the healthcare debate.

          There are still many many people in the UK that need public libraries in the UK in order to use Google; not everyone has an internet connection at home. I assume the same is true in the USA. Academic libraries are currently aslo going from strength to strength, I'm currently rolling E-books [jiscebooksproject.org] out to our students, as well as running research skills workshops teaching them things such as how to recognise a reliable source on the internet and how to cite properly.

          The library isn't dead yet, and shows no sign

    • Re:Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ATestR (1060586) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:27AM (#29259113) Homepage

      Yes, but....

      Funding for libraries is usually tight. If fewer people are using the library, it will become even tighter. I can foresee a day in the not too distant future when many libraries (especially in smaller towns and cities) can't complete in light of the availability of books from sources like Google Books.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by PainKilleR-CE (597083)

        On the other hand, Google Books is also a tool for librarians when the books are not available locally, as many libraries supply internet access to members of their community that can not afford to have it at home. That, and generally librarians are always concerned about privacy issues, whether they directly impact the libraries or not.

        I recently looked into possibly going into the field myself, and found that my interest perhaps wasn't as unusual as I first thought, as there is a massive overlap with comp

        • Unfortunately, most of the work for a modern librarian is focused on acquiring and maintaining funding to maintain the library, and far too many communities face losing these resources.

          'Funding' --outside of the occasional grant application in academic libraries -- is rarely part of the job of a typical librarian, particularly at the entry level. Unless you're referring to a rural public library, with a staff of 1 or 2.

          /yes, librarian

        • by VJ42 (860241) *

          I recently looked into possibly going into the field myself, and found that my interest perhaps wasn't as unusual as I first thought, as there is a massive overlap with computer science and information systems, including a concentration in Informatics for people going for their Masters in Library Science.

          Go for it, I'm doing a second degree in Library and information Science having done my first in Software engineering. At least here in the UK, there's a massive shortage of e-librarians, systems librarians, electronic information librarians (or whatever they've called the post). Furthermore, most of these types of post are springing up in the academic sector, meaning that someone else is responsible for getting your institution funding, you just have to get it for your department like in any other walk of l

      • by Verunks (1000826)

        Yes, but....

        Funding for libraries is usually tight. If fewer people are using the library, it will become even tighter. I can foresee a day in the not too distant future when many libraries (especially in smaller towns and cities) can't complete in light of the availability of books from sources like Google Books.

        it's the price of evolution, things change, what about farrier and blacksmith, we don't use horses anymore to go around, hopefully sooner or later we won't use paper anymore too

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Don't these hard copy books still exist after Google has "digitized" them? If you re concerned over your privacy, simply go to the physical library as you would have before the digitization.

      Yes, in about the same way that pay phones still exist after the advent of cell phones. And in the same way, we can expect the availability to gradually dwindle until the option no longer exists. Let's not wait until that point to solve the problem.

    • I take it you've missed the last twenty Slashdot articles about this. The problem is that many of these books are rare (so the library won't have a physical copy) and still in copyright (so the library can't provide a digital copy legally). Google gets around the second point by having settled a class-action lawsuit which allows them to copy any books that they like. No other organisation has this, and until copyright law is sufficiently reformed or the settlement is thrown out under antitrust legislatio
      • No I haven't missed it. The point is that those rare books are still available. If you want to look at that book, you still have the same availability that you always have. Google making it available electronically in no way diminished the availability that was there before.

    • When eReaders hit critical market numbers many books will no longer be put into print... not a counter argument exactly but a statement you should consider.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Petrushka (815171)

      Don't these hard copy books still exist after Google has "digitized" them? If you re concerned over your privacy, simply go to the physical library as you would have before the digitization.

      They don't necessarily exist. Recently I was looking for a relatively esoteric book on a particular ancient Greek author's parodying of bits of the New Testament. Now, careful checking showed that no library in my home town has the book; even more careful checking showed that the nearest library that had it is 9700 km [sic] away. The book was published in the early 1960s, so it's under copyright.

      Now, this book is not everyone's cup of tea, sure, but that's kind of the point of books: they make information a

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Yes they do have hard copies. They also have books that the only way to get them is for them to order them from, say, the Biblioth`eque (damn you Slashdot fix your damn encoding already) nationale de France, and even then they just mail out a photocopy of the original. And I can't touch the photocopy.

      Google books would have been especially useful for rare books.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:26AM (#29259109)

    Whether it's your G-Mail contact list, your search history, or what books you check out from from their "library," your data is Google's stock in trade. This is the price of "free." For most people, it's a much better than even proposition. For the paranoid and privacy conscious, it's a deal breaker. And the notion that Google is providing this information to the US government is merely an urban myth, so get that idea right out of your head this instant...

  • by will_die (586523) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:28AM (#29259119) Homepage
    I have worked in a few libraries, public and private, both as paid or volunteer help, and don't know of any that deleted user information or information on who checked out books.
    They may of archived the information and removed it from the main databases but the information was still available for years after the event.
    The most a library really needs to record are who are the last 2 people who checked out material, after that you there is no way of proving someone else damaged it. If you want metrics on the types or specific information on the number of check-outs that can be done without attaching a specific user to a piece of material.
    Few places have a legal requirement that libraries store user information and if they did not store if beyond what is needed to track who has something checked out or could of damaged material they would not have problems in proving this information since it would not exist.
    • by esme (17526)

      Most of the commercial library systems store exactly the information you mention: only the current and previous borrowers. When a new person checks out a book, the old previous borrower gets overwritten, and isn't stored anywhere else. So there's no way to get a list of all the people who have checked out a particular book, or every book a user has ever checked out, because the data simply isn't there.

      Now web usage is something different. I suspect many libraries store their webserver logs until the end

      • by bkr1_2k (237627)

        I ask you then, why it is that every library I've been to in the last 10 years can tell me the last 20 books I've checked out. Is it just because it's stored under my name rather than under the book title? Wouldn't that be sufficient enough in a "legal" investigation?

        • by esme (17526)

          I'm guessing it's either:

          1. They're pulling this info from the current and previous borrower fields.
          2. They've developed their own software and haven't thought about the privacy implications of storing this info.
          3. The librarian desire to hoard information has motivated ILS vendors to change their systems to store this info. It wouldn't surprise me if the original current/previous limitation started out as a database limitation and the privacy justification was post-hoc.

          It's been a long time since I've wor

        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          I ask you then, why it is that every library I've been to in the last 10 years can tell me the last 20 books I've checked out.

          Because no one else reads the books that you read.

          Unfortunately, that kind of reading habit is exactly the kind for a person that needs the protection, and keeping the records for only the last two people to check out a book doesn't help people like you. It's only effective for people who run with the herd.

          If the records are hashed, then if books only know the hashes of people who read them, you can't (easily) find readers of a book, but you can find what books were read by a person of interest. If instead

    • They may of archived

      It's such a shame that being surrounded by books didn't manage to give you a basic ability to write English sentences.

    • by fyrewulff (702920)
      The library I worked at in 2005 made a policy of deleting all records after a year and did not keep check out histories, you could only show up as a "previous borrower" of a book (which got deleted after a year). The only way a book stayed attached to the account is if you had an overdue fee on it or you reported it as lost.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:33AM (#29259149)

    "... But now, as more and more titles become available in Google Book Search, it's not clear whether digital readers will enjoy the same privacy protections they have at the library..."

    Why not let users decide. If privacy concerns are paramount then users will not use Google Books. I am sure there is a sizable number of users who are not bothered by privacy concerns. These are probably the same folks who put all their lives on Facebook, 250 million strong to date.

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Right, and that's what the librarians are doing. Making sure users make an informed decision.

      I don't think any librarian on the planet wants Google Books to go away. It's going to be a massively valuable resource for research, in addition to being unimaginably valuable in terms of preserving books that might go out of print and become so rare that no one can ever get access to them. For keepers of the written word, this is as close to a holy grail as they'll ever get.

      But it does come at a cost to the end

      • by natehoy (1608657) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:46AM (#29259249) Journal

        PS: Now if my local library could get access to Google Books, allowing me to anonymously get ebooks through them and Google would only be aware of my library's credentials, with my library protecting my privacy, that'd be a serious win.

        • by VJ42 (860241) *

          PS: Now if my local library could get access to Google Books, allowing me to anonymously get ebooks through them and Google would only be aware of my library's credentials, with my library protecting my privacy, that'd be a serious win.

          I've just implemented* a similar feature in our library, if you search our catalogue for any title that's also on Google books it will have google books link\icon under the picture of it's cover (puled from amazon). It's really there as an aid to check book you want is correct, but there's no reason you couldn't stay and read the whole thing via our OPAC. If this topic had come up in a couple of months I'd give you a URL to our on-line catalogue so you could see for yourself, but I haven't upgraded that yet

    • by Kirijini (214824)

      I'll grant you that it's probably less than a majority who value their privacy prospectively.

      But privacy is one of those things where it suddenly becomes a lot more valuable after it's been violated.

      The right of privacy shouldn't be likened to a market exchange - where you can "trade away" your privacy in exchange for something - because the fairness of exchanges comes from each party fully knowing the value of what they're giving away. Most people have no idea what their privacy is worth until it's been v

    • Google has a monopoly on a large number of rare-but-in-copyright books. Until someone else decides to commit large scale wilful copyright infringement hoping that they will get favourable terms in a settlement or the law is changed, this will continue to be the case.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Except users are generally idiots, even the ones who are brilliant.

    • These are probably the same folks who put all their lives on Facebook, 250 million strong to date.

      Puh-leez. There are 250 million "members" because when I have a free minute, I troll through the pictures of hot 19 year old girls. Of course, you have to "join" to do so. Since I always forget the temporary accounts I use to do this, I make a new one each time. Multiply by the other 10 million lurkers and you'll soon have 250 million members, and more than a dozen may be actual customers.

  • Hardly possible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moon3 (1530265) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:36AM (#29259163)
    Google is making the books searchable with one intent in mind, to know what you are searching for, so they can offer relevant ads and targeted marketing leads.
    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Google is making the books searchable with one intent in mind, to know what you are searching for, so they can offer relevant ads and targeted marketing leads.

      If the data is kept safe I don't mind getting relevant ads from Google, after all since I use AdBlock Plus it's not like I can see them. :)

    • Google is making the books searchable with one intent in mind, to know what you are searching for, so they can offer relevant ads and targeted marketing leads.

      Same thing can be said about your search history. However google has a policy [google.com] of "anonymizing" some of what it records after a certain period of time. They only do that because of the public pressure that has been applied. From the user's point of view it is a good thing to keep that pressure up, we may find that Google "discovers" that they can get enough value out of your personal information in even less time than they do now and adjusts their privacy protections accordingly.

  • More Nonsense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omb (759389) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:36AM (#29259167)
    I, for one, am getting really fed up with people trying to get in the way of Google, and others making more information available, for free. And on the thinest pretexts. There is a huge difference between protecting the public right to privacy, as has recently ocured here in Switzerland and this endless carping by libraries and copyright holders about orphaned books etc. In the UK a condition of copyright in a requirement to offer a small number of copies to the so called Copyright libraries eg the British Museum.

    If we are serious about scholarship in the internet age we must do something similar, allow google and others to scan and index books provide short extracts free for fair use while selling complete electronic copies through retailers. The same for learned journals.

    Every time I hear nonsense from libraries, journal providers and content providers (think Murdoch) I smell hipocracy and corruption thick in the air.
    • Re:More Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:59AM (#29259341)

      Then Google should do things the right way, the first time, and then nobody would stand up to criticize them.

      In this case, all Google has to do is say that information about who read what book will -not- be stored, and this 'concern' goes away. It's a legit concern, and easily rectified.

    • The term is Legal Deposit Libraries: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/ukpga_20030028_en_1 [opsi.gov.uk]

      "Duty to deposit
      1 Deposit of publications

      (1) A person who publishes in the United Kingdom a work to which this Act applies must at his own expense deliver a copy of it to an address specified (generally or in a particular case) by any deposit library entitled to delivery under this section. "

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Your knowledge of UK copyright law is a few decades out of date, but moving past that...

      The problem, as I've written before, is that the terms of Google's settlement were non-transferable. No one would object if there was a law passed giving a compulsory licensing model for out-of-print books, allowing anyone who wanted to go to the expense of digitising them to distribute them for a fixed fee. Unfortunately, at the moment Google is the only one who has these terms. Someone could produce something like

      • Google are not heroes in this matter. They did not lobby for fairer copyright laws. They simply broke the existing laws on a massive scale and got a settlement that benefitted them but no one else.

        Quite like Sony and the root-kit fiasco where if any random joe had done what Sony did they would be rotting in prison for eternity. But because Sony is so big and fucked over so many people, they got off with little more than a finger waggling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906)

      I, for one, am getting really fed up with people trying to get in the way of Google, and others making more information available, for free.

      And I'm fed up of people not being able to see costs that aren't prefaced by a $ sign. Google is in the fortunate position of having a monopoly on digitising orphaned works, and it got this monopoly by agreeing to pay an organisation which often has nothing to do with the creation of those works and no intention of paying the authors.

      There is practically no slashdott

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I don't get it, you don't want people getting in the way of Google making more information available, but you don't want enybody else to make information available?

      Maybe I need more coffee, but your statement seems self-contradictory.

    • I, for one, am getting really fed up with people trying to get in the way of Google, and others making more information available, for free.

      And Google just loves people like you - because they can get away with the most outrageous acts and the apologists will rush to bleat their support. They don't need to astroturf, they don't need Brownshirts - synchophants like you will blindly rush to defend them without them raising a finger.

      There is a huge difference between protecting the public righ

      • "And Google just loves people like you", how dare you be so god dammed insolent, if you can not keep be civil be quiet.

        Google has, once again, tried to contribute to the available knowledgebase for mankind, and will spend a lot of money scanning, OCR-ing and Indexing the worlds libraries, for the vast public good, maybe re-creating a modern Library of Alexandria, which, with modern technology cannot ever be destroyed again.

        You and other American short sighted creeps, who cannot see benefit to human progress
  • I misread that three times as "Liberians" and I couldn't figure out why they would care about a bunch of English books being on Google.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:39AM (#29259189)
    While their altruism is to be applauded: working to preserve people's privacy, I would find this "concern" over Google books more credible if it wasn't being advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals (or as librarians might call them: customers) without having to go to their local library.

    This sounds to me like nothing more than the librarians trying to keep their jobs. While I don't disagree with that, I would appreciate it if they wouldn't take us for fools and try to wrap this up as some sort of "mission" they're on. Some honesty and transparency would get them more support.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I would find this "concern" over Google books more credible if it wasn't being advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals (or as librarians might call them: customers) without having to go to their local library.

      And I would find Global Warming more believable, if it wasn't initiated by climatologists who get more funding when as a scare tactic, this would raise more money in funding for the said group.

      You d

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:23AM (#29259567) Homepage Journal

      advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals

      Google Books doesn't return the whole book for you to read, so I don't see how Google Books could do anything but HELP libraries. You remember a passage, look it up on Google Books, you then have the ISBN making it easier to get the book from the library where, unlike Google or Amazon, you can read the whole book for free.

      What am I missing here?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by skangas (1611225)
      Google will only find you the books you are asking it to find. Consider a high school student looking for information on a certain event in World War II. Sure, she could google "world war 2", but then what? If she doesn't know what she's looking for, she's completely lost from that point on. A good librarian, on the other hand, could help our hypothetical student and guide her between the different sources of information: encyclopedias, litterature, magazines, maybe even movies. Sure, nobody's perfect, but
    • by VJ42 (860241) *

      While their altruism is to be applauded: working to preserve people's privacy, I would find this "concern" over Google books more credible if it wasn't being advocated by one of the groups of workers who stand to lose the most from having a vast body of literature made easily available to individuals (or as librarians might call them: customers) without having to go to their local library.

      This sounds to me like nothing more than the librarians trying to keep their jobs. While I don't disagree with that, I would appreciate it if they wouldn't take us for fools and try to wrap this up as some sort of "mission" they're on. Some honesty and transparency would get them more support.

      If I was worried about my job would I be linking to Google books and Amazon from our OPAC and on-line catalogue, further details in my post here: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1352889&cid=29266201 [slashdot.org]

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:51AM (#29259283)

    April 28, 2005, American Librarians Association President Carol Brey - Casiano responds to Oversight Hearing on Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act

    "Using the public library is one of the benefits of living in our free and democratic society. The First Amendment promises everyone in the United States a fundamental right of free speech and free inquiry. Every person is entitled to read anything about a topic or opinion without the government looking over his or her shoulder. When there is evidence of a crime or evidence that a crime is about to be committed, law enforcement officers can obtain search warrants and subpoenas permitting them to access the records of the suspected criminal.

    "Library patrons use our nation's libraries with an expectation of privacy because in 48 states, laws declare that a person's library records are private and confidential; the remaining two states, Kentucky and Hawaii, have attorneys' general opinions recognizing the confidentiality of library records. All of these laws existed before the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted.

    "The USA PATRIOT Act preempts the privacy protections provided by state library confidentiality laws, which balance protection of library patron records with the needs of law enforcement. Because the USA PATRIOT Act does not require the FBI to name an individual or to give specific reasons to believe he is engaged in terrorism, Section 215 has the potential to open patrons' reading and research records to a 'fishing expedition.'

  • by fermion (181285) on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:55AM (#29259317) Homepage Journal
    A library is more than a collection of printed pages. It is a professional that can help you find those pages. It is years of custom that allows a patron to read those pages without undue government interference. Sure, it is paid for the government, but it is paid knowing that an educated populous is critical to democracy. Some would argue that a dangerous person might be planning an attack on their government using the library, or might be planning something that others might not like, for instance researching the facts to prepare for an abortion, but those people who wish to limit the freedoms of the library are trading security for democracy and deserve neither.

    Google books, OTOH, is just a collection of pages. The pages you read are part of their database, which they will use to understand and better serve the user, and, if the committee on un-American affairs come knocking, will likely give up quite willingly. Furthermore, while modern database search has become very easy, researching a topic is still not trivial. Serious searches will still turn up more trivia than useful fact. If we confuse google with a library, there is a chance that our educational opportunities might become limited. The child that wants to read about their emerging sexuality, for example, instead of just playing it out through naked pictures, may not be able to do so. This is an unknown thing,and there is nothing wrong with thinking about ramifications, as long as we realize this thing is going to happen no matter what.

    • by bkr1_2k (237627)

      Not to belittle librarians, but I've never found any that could help me beyond the Dewey Decimal System or whatever particular system that library used. Asking for where to get further research was basically, "Here are the tools we have and how you do a rudimentary search using them. Good luck." It's gotten better over the years because now we can search multiple types of materials in one place instead of going to the card catalog, and the periodicals catalog, and the "Academic research" catalog ad nause

      • by VJ42 (860241) *

        Not to belittle librarians, but I've never found any that could help me beyond the Dewey Decimal System or whatever particular system that library used. Asking for where to get further research was basically, "Here are the tools we have and how you do a rudimentary search using them. Good luck." It's gotten better over the years because now we can search multiple types of materials in one place instead of going to the card catalog, and the periodicals catalog, and the "Academic research" catalog ad nauseum. That has actually made librarians less relevant though, not more so.

        I am a far more adept searcher than most of the librarians I've met, simply because I know what I'm looking for, more or less.

        Not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. More and more counter staff are unqualified library assistants (cheaper to employ than librarians), most of your dealings are probably with these usually hard-working, but less knowledgeable people. OTOH, IIRC about a third of all librarians are going to retire in the next five years so there are obviously many who are also stuck in their ways, but your local library is changing. Watch out for us new professionals who are using platforms such as Google boo

  • Google, the world's largest non-evil corporation, has released Google Books Stalkertude(tm) [today.com], which allows you to share your location, your reading, your DNA and your tastes in porn in real time with your dearest friends from all your social networks and blogs, that guy your friend gave your LiveJournal username to when you were both drunk and anyone you've ever sent or received a message to or from on GMail. And your boss.

    Google Books Stalkertude(tm) allows you to broadcast where you are and what you're thinking about at all times. It supports all current smartphones except that stupid iThing from Cupertino. If you're using Google Chrome, you can automatically share your location from your laptop too! The laptop maintains and archives a complete record of your life in text, video and audio form with the twelve built-in webcams and microphones dotted around the casing, plus samples of your DNA from the keys. The data is transmitted to the Google servers for your comfort and convenience and remains absolutely and entirely confidential between you and Google's marketing department. Tasteful and understated text ads are subliminally woven into the display pixels.

    Privacy features are important to Google Books Stalkertude(tm). You can trust us with your entire life record, even as we argue in court over Google StreetView that privacy doesn't exist in the modern world. Besides, better we have your complete dossier than Microsoft, right? And we'll only give it to the government if they, like, ask for it or something. That we've gathered so much data on you in the first place is in no way a danger to you. We promise we won't tell your husband, and that's what counts.

  • Candlestick makers upset with Edison.
  • I call FUD. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238)

    Google doesn't want to have to deal with subpoenas for information any more than libraries do. That's why they anonymize the data [eff.org] after nine months.

    • Google doesn't want to have to deal with subpoenas for information any more than libraries do. That's why they anonymize the data [eff.org] after nine months.

      Google makes no claims about anonymizing or deleting all of the data they cull and attach to any Google (or Youtube, Chrome, etc.) account you have, and once they have it attached to your identity, not just an IP that could lead to a subpoena that leads to your identity, why should they even care about keeping search IP logs?

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:17AM (#29259493) Homepage

    Librarians are also concerned because they see the writing on the wall. Libraries may not be needed in the near future. We have the technology today to make every book in existence available to every human on the planet, and in an instantly-searchable format. This is the sort of thing a global Renaissance is made of! The only thing holding humanity back, at this point, is politics. We have IP law that relies on artificial scarcity. This is the opposite of what the goal of IP should be.

    The purpose of IP law should be to encourage science and the useful arts while making their benefits available to everyone.

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:29AM (#29259637) Journal

      If Google Books eliminates scarcity, that's a good thing. This was the original purpose of libraries themselves, allowing anyone access to any book they want to read for free, and if Google can become "Library 2.0", great.

      It will not, however, eliminate the need for "Library 1.0". I don't know about your library, but ours is a vibrant community center. Sure, they sign out books, but if you eliminated every book from the library they'd still have patrons in there every day. You can hold meetings there in one of the conference rooms, you can access the Internet, there are programs for children and adults there (OK, many of them centered around books, so if you eliminated all the books someone would have to bring some... grin).

      And, of course, there are still a few of us 40+ grumpy old curmudgeons who simply prefer the feel of real paper in our hands when we read. Not that I'd mind an e-book terribly, but holding actual dead trees has become part of the reading experience to us.

      I'm sure there are some libraries that have turned into emotionless, community-less book repositories, but there are a good number of them that will survive long after the desire for printed book material goes away, if it ever does.

  • By our staff reporter Patrick Zappala

    Yesterday members of Americans United for Privacy of Readership took out a procession in Forbes Avenue, carrying placards denouncing the plans announced by Andrew Carnegie to found a library in each incorporated county in America using his private funds.

    The president of the advocacy group Book P Ublisher, owner of a popular bookstore in the Fifth Avenue, said that "Right now, Americans buy a book, they pay cash and there is no record of what anyone is reading. In t

  • It's pretty clear they won't. And Google always reserves the right to change the terms.

  • You mean the kind of privacy that gets you on the FBI's watch-list if you checkout books like the Anarchist's cookbook?
  • If Google's privacy standards are lower than those of libraries, how long will it be before merely visiting a library brings you to the attention of some government drone? And then, of course, that question most beloved of fascists and the morally incompetent is asked: "If you don't have anything to hide, what's the big deal?"

  • Google already has a opt-out solution [youtube.com] for all you privacy-doubters.
  • in libraries. Older non-automated circulation systems tracked you better and more permanently than automated systems do today. One system was a 'signature' system where you signed for books and showed ID. Those signature sheets were kept in back room filing cabinets for years. In theory you could find a person on a signature sheet, track the corresponding numbers on the books' permanent record card, and find out which books had been checked out years ago.

    Another system used library card numbers written into

Can't open /usr/fortunes. Lid stuck on cookie jar.

Working...