Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Google Book Settlement!

Google books has just settled the lawsuit brought by authors and publishers alleging that the scanning of copyrighted books violates copyright law. The settlement leaves the legal question unresolved but could make a big impact for libraries. Read about it here (Google). Or here (NY Times).

According to the settlement out of print books still protected by copyright will be available for purchase from Google. Libraries will be able to pay a subscription fee to access all of the out of print books. Publishers will have the option to sell books still in print through Google.

This means libraries could pay to have electronic access to (probably) millions of books all at once. I have not seen what this will cost. It will be really interesting to see how this changes libraries as we know them.

h/t to John Jaeger

Monday, October 27, 2008

Google Books back-up

It sounds like a group of universities has been working on a back-up to Google books. They are creating a collective database of the digital books Google Books has scanned from their libraries. It's called HathiTrust. It sounds like they don't have a search engine for the collection yet, but they're working on. They also will publish a comprehensive list of what is included (unlike Google, which hasn't done that).

And an interesting tidbit on Wikipedia... A study was done of 100 words from history textbooks, which were typed into Google. Wikipedia came up as the first hit 87 out of 100 times. It was the second item listed 12 times, and third once. So wikipedia was listed among the top 3 Google hits 100% of the time. (I have to confess - I've started going to the wikipedia links most often when I'm doing a google search. The definitions are often more straightforward than other sites, and it seems comparatively more reliable than sites put up by one person.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wikipedia and the financial crisis

I don't quite understand this article, because it gets into financial things, but it's interesting. From what I picked up, it sounds like someone had written an article a few years ago warning people about a dangerous stock trading practice called "naked short selling." It wasn't published, and the author claims it was because other journalists were getting their information about the practice from wikipedia, and the relevant articles there had been controlled by one person using different accounts, who successfully painted a different picture of this practice. One of the most interesting quotes was "At some level, you can control the public discourse from Wikipedia." Wikipedia has power - that's kind of scary!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

ATM of books

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is installing an "Espresso Book Machine" which will print digitized, out of copyright books, both from the library's collection and from online sources. It takes 5-7 minutes, and it costs about $10 per book.

Cha Cha

I just read about a new service called ChaCha. You can send it a question by text message to a network of people and get an answer. Their website ( says it uses technology to send the question to the most knowledgeable person on that subject. People can volunteer to be a "guide" on the website, after passing a series of tests.

The article was discussing it in the context of students cheating on tests using their cell phones. But I thought it was also interesting as a librarian who answers questions!