Mary Sue Coleman, the President of the University of Michigan, gave an unbelievably wonderful speech about Google Book Search to the American Association of Publishers, who are suing Google for making card-catalogs of all the books in several major libraries available. The speech ranges from the university's mission, the place of libraries in society, the impact that Book Search will have on book sales, and there's an incredible piece on scholarship in the developing world and Google Book Search that gave me goosebumps. This is must-read stuff.
Just as powerful as the preservation aspect of Google Book Search is the fact our venture
will result in a magnitude of discovery that seems almost incomprehensible. I could not
have imagined that in my lifetime so much diffuse information literally would be at my
It is an educator’s dream, knowing that the vast body of information held in the libraries
of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the New York Public Library will be
universally searchable and, in the case of public domain works, accessible.
My parents were both teachers. My mother would take me and my two sisters to the
public library in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and I remember it was like opening the doors to a
different world with each trip we made. I was forever discovering entire new veins of
titles, books that were simply enchanting to impressionable young girls.
Later on, as an undergraduate in college, I all but lived in the library. If I wasn’t holed up
and reading in a carrel, I was simply roaming the stacks and uncovering new subjects and
I cannot tell you how exhilarating – and how humbling – it is to know that this digital
enterprise, with our university’s books, will provide that same joy of discovery for people
everywhere, from Iowa to Indonesia.
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