Siva’s post on the alleged inability of Google Book Search to accomplish what Google Book Search claims to do reminds me to ask a question — not of Siva, but of all those who oppose Google Book Search as a matter of pro-librarian/pro-library public policy:
It seems to me, on anecdotal evidence, that the pro-librarian/pro-library public policy is founded in part on the belief that librarians — and only librarians — can adequately search and provide “knowledge” to the untrained masses. That if we turn ordinary souls loose on digital “stacks,” armed only with a search engine, that they will be utterly lost. Is that right? The question is this: What’s wrong with letting people loose in the digital “stacks” armed only with a search engine? When I go to big research libraries, I *like* to wander around in the (print) stacks — armed only with the Dewey Decimal system and the ability to follow my nose. I learn stuff. Stuff I didn’t plan to learn. Stuff that I neither needed nor wanted a librarian to point me to. I don’t have anything against librarians. I’ve had librarians in my family, and they were perfectly wonderful people (though no more or less wonderful than the journalists, gym teachers, hairdressers, professors, auto mechanics, environmental scientists, etc. etc. who I also have or have had in my family). Do we need to stop Google to save librarians? If so, why?
(P.S. By the way, I tried to use Google to find Cory Doctorow’s book — as Siva said, a science fiction novel with “magic kingdom” in the title. I typed: “science fiction magic kingdom.” And Cory’s book came up #1.)