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The Trouble with Google Books

Google has a long history of leaving things in beta, for a verrry long time. I don’t know if the items in ths article are due to the beta nature of Google Books but they don’t bode well for it from this librarian’s slightly compulsive point of view. It does appear like they don’t or can’t understand how to use OCLC WorldCat metadata they have under license.

The trouble with Google Books
How rampant errors threaten the scholarly mission of the vast digital library
by Laura Miller


“A search for books published before 1950 and containing the word “Internet” turned up the unlikely bounty of 527 results.”
“Woody Allen is mentioned in 325 books ostensibly published before he was born.”
“Sigmund Freud is listed as a co-author of a book on the Mosaic Web browser and Henry James is credited with writing “Madame Bovary.””
“Even more puzzling are the many subject misclassifications: an edition of “Moby Dick” categorized under “Computers,” and “Jane Eyre” as “Antiques and Collectibles” (“Madame Bovary” got that label, too).”

“People at Google are also saying, “Let’s crowdsource this,” but that is a stupid idea. You and I are both smart, knowledgeable people, but I wouldn’t trust either of us to do the skilled work of cataloging a 1890 edition of “Madame Bovary.””

“My goal was really to get the librarians to talk to Google, because until recently they’ve been been taking it for granted that Google Books will do it right.
Because if this really is the “last library,” as I put it, and no one is going to go back and do all this scanning again, which I think we can all agree is probably the case, then it’s really important that it be done right. And it’s going to cost a lot of money to do it. A disproportionate percentage of the resources have to go to a relative small percentage of users. That’s what a research library is all about. That is the nature of scholarship.”

It’s an important piece. Metadata, from library land, is important – even to The Goog.


Posted on: September 13, 2010, 5:25 pm Category: Uncategorized