Giving books new life

I began my career working on the Oxford Google Books Project. I was therefore very interested in yesterday’s news that a US court has deemed Google’s digitisation of books to be fair use.

This quote from the ruling sums up my perspective having worked for one of the partner libraries:

Google Books helps to preserve books and give them new life. Older books, many of which are out-of-print books that are falling apart buried in library stacks, are being scanned and saved.

It was my job to survey the library collections to identify books which could be scanned. I spent months down in the stacks with lists of books which had been identified from the catalogue as scanning potentials. The key identifier? Age. We were only scanning items in the public domain. What I hadn’t expected was the number of books we would uncover that hadn’t been picked up from the catalogue, either because their records were incomplete, or that a record didn’t exist at all. Whether they were to end up being scanned or not, these books were catalogued, and so became discoverable. Without the project they would have remained lost.

I left the project before it ended and so didn’t see the final stage of linking up the scanned and physical copies. It is now possible on SOLO, Oxford’s resource discovery service, to view the digitised copy along with details of  the location of the print copy. You can also filter your search to view only results where digitised copies are available.

I believe this is a prime example of the benefits of the project for enhancing library collections.


Further reading (including links to a PDF of the full ruling):

Howard, J. (2013) Judge hands Google a big victory in lengthy book-scanning case. Chronicle of Higher Education. 14 November 2013.

Koyle, K. (2013) It’s FAIR. Coyle’s InFormation. 14 November 2013.

Nonplussed by Google+

I mentioned in my reading round-up for July that a lot of the article I have read over the past month have been about Google+. There are links to the best and most useful articles at the bottom of this post.

What I want to share with you here is my first reaction to Google+ and my experience one month in. And that can be described in one word…


I just don’t get it, or perhaps more accurately I just don’t need it. I got an invite quite early on and set about creating some circles. What I found was that I was just replicating my networks from Twitter and Facebook. But what’s the point in that?

Twitter & Facebook by ekcragg, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  ekcragg 

Facebook works perfectly well for me as a way to communicate online with my friends and family. Twitter works perfectly well for me as a way of sharing information and getting involved with my professional network.

Google+ by ekcragg, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  ekcragg 

Yes, I see that the theory behind Google+ is to bring both of those networks into one place to make it easier to share and communicate with selected groups. But at the moment it’s just not working for me, and why is that the case? I don’t want to have to specify for every single post I make who that content gets shared with. It’s as simple as that.

Julia Turner summed my feelings up perfectly in the Google+ segment on a recent edition of the Slate Culture Gabfest (which I would thoroughly recommend you listen to, it starts at around 17min):

“you can’t compartmentalise your public self from your private self with Google+”

If there is to be one social network to rule them all then that compartmentalisation needs to be doable and easy.

Further reading

Things 19 & 20 – Office 2.0

  • Thing 19: Create a Google Document and share it.
  • Thing 20: Sign in to ThinkFree Office and try its Write application.

I will not hide the fact that I LOVE Google Documents. I use it on a regular basis to work on documents as I move around my various computers. For me the best thing about it however is the ease with which you can create forms. I have set up two for the 23 Things programme alone, the first for registrations and lately the one for completion. This year I have also used it to create a booking form for the Business Librarians Association (BLA) conference and conduct a social media survey, also for the BLA.

The one downside I find is the interface. Yes, it’s simple and clean but I often want to be able to do a little more with the formatting of my documents. For that reason I have recently started using Dropbox which acts as a central folder that I can save files to and access from any computer I work on.

For thing 20 I signed in to ThinkFree Office. When I opened a document I was immediately impressed by the range of formatting options – an improvement on Google Documents for sure. However, it is so p a i n f u l l y slooooooow that it is impossible to get anything done. So I promptly signed out and don’t think I shall be going back any time soon.