Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Will Google save us?
Some folks have touted Google as the savior of the library. Since Google is digitizing so many books, we won't need space
for those old, moldy volumes any more. The post below, from the Govdoc-l discussion list, gives an indication of why libraries
cannot rely on Google to solve their space problems yet.
"----- Original Message -----
From: "Tryon, Julia" <JTRYON@PROVIDENCE.EDU>
Date: Thursday, August 9, 2007 2:31 pm
Subject: Questions about Google and government documents
My director has asked me to discover what I may about the amount of documents available in Google's digital projects. I've
been looking at Google, partners' websites, articles, blogs, etc. I have found a lot of chit-chat but very little substantive
information. Maybe I am just not looking for it the right way or in the right places.
It seems that there is a blackout on reporting statistics for these projects. Google and most of the partners give no statistical
data at all. Stanford did have a page with statistics that was buried on their project's website but the information had not
been updated since 2004.
To figure out the statistics on my own, I have tried searching Google Books, Stanford, and University of Michigan; but there
is no way to limit a search to government documents. On Google I was able to search by publisher and, using various abbreviations
for GPO that are used in the publisher field, I came up with 187,522 (GPO-141,600; Gov't-2322; Government Printing Office-43,600).
The university catalogs did not allow me to search by publisher.
When looking at the search results in Google for publisher field has GPO, I found 141,600 items, only 82,487 of which were
available in the full view. And although it is nice to think that we have the full text for 82,487 documents, not all of
them can be used. I randomly picked a title to see how it looked and chose the Statistical Abstract for 1954. The pages
were clear enough to read easily but on every even numbered page part of the right hand column was chopped off...
Government Documents Librarian
Phillips Memorial Library
Providence, RI 02918