We don't normally report breaking news here at TechSource, but the non-disclosure act expired at midnight, and we want to alert librarians to the changes they'll be seeing when they arrive at work Monday morning. The rumors you've been hearing are true. At the ACRL Conference in Baltimore this morning, Google announced it has purchased OCLC and all of its holdings.
Some changes will be more immediate than others, including cosmetic changes you can already see if you visit sites such as WorldCat and FirstSearch. The OCLC home page began redirecting to oclc.google.com late last night, and new logos are beginning to appear online. There weren't many details in the announcement and the terms have not been disclosed yet, but here's what we know so far.
- As of today, WorldCat has been renamed "Google Library," and every work ever published is now available for full-text searching in the system. Publishers are already crying foul and their lawyers are furiously filing lawsuits, but our reading of copyright law and the fact that Google has added the name "library" to the product means the lawsuits will ultimately fail.
- Officials from both sides confirmed that work has already begun on combining GoogleLibrary and FirstSearch into a single product. They were careful to avoid using the terms "federated search," "resolver," and "digital object identifier," noting that no one else in the world knows what those things are. Instead, they showed some screenshots of the new product and announced that the beta of "Google It All" should be available in about two weeks at all.google.com.
- QuestionPoint will be renamed "Google Answers," thereby reviving the defunct service. This will finally allow librarians to truly "go where their users are," while also allowing Google to integrate AdSense into the reference interview. Officials at Google reassured us that patron privacy will be held to the same standard in which current Google users' privacy is protected. Fulfilling QuestionPoint's original mission, the 24/7 virtual reference network will remain "a source of unique centralized knowledge resources built by a collaborative network of member libraries," but the back-end will be rewritten using the Google Talk client as the base. Expect integration into Google It All in Q3 of this year.
- The fate of the Dublin Core initiative is unknown at this time, although it is promising that it was renamed "Cupertino Core." Officials admitted that CoreRank is their best hope to keep Google ahead of the search engine pack.
Naturally, the OCLC bloggers have been unable to comment on all of this, but word on the street is that OOOOOOCLC already is hard at work on an update of the 2005 "Perceptions" report in the hope that it will show a move away from libraries being perceived as "only about books."
Is this Library 3.0? Only time will tell.
Update: More news and analysis over at Hectic Pace.