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Books and Libraries

Al Brophy has an interesting post at Concurring Opinions about books, libraries, and related phenomena.

It’s intriguing to read his comments on the distinction between the book, and the library, and what I take to be the different roles each plays in preserving and transmitting ideas.

The post doesn’t make the jump to Google speed (which is, I suspect, just a notch below “ludicrous speed“), but it’s worth wondering how the distinction cuts in the context of Google’s plans.

Here is one thought: Libraries not only store and transmit ideas, but they also store and transmit meta-ideas. Through catalogs, among other things, they provide us with a treasure trove of important and valuable information about historical patterns of information sharing. If libraries were to step up to the plate in lieu of Google Book Search, as Siva argues they should, the equivalent functionality might be seen as privacy-threatening, rather than history preserving. Which reminds me, again, that in the metaphorical struggle that accompanies debates over Google Book Search, “Google Book Search-as-Library” is not the right premise.