Google is a company, or even a whole topic, that all librarians seem to have an opinion upon. Held up as the shining example of the way search should be presented, or the death of guided search dragging eyes away from the 'quality' resources held in libraries - a possible answer to the confused mess of eJournal aggregation - the organisation wanting to scan in all the books and then either replace, or facilitate greater access to, the worlds libraries - a wonderful resource to add value to library holdings. Just some of many, often contradictory, opinions. The constant being that the majority of librarians have an opinion on the subject.
Our guest this month, Frances Haugen product manager from the team behind Google Book Search, joins us to discuss a couple of the recent announcements from that team, and the wider issues around making books and libraries more visible on the web.
The day before the recording, Google had announced the launch of a version of Book Search for mobile devices. Frances describes the need for a mobile specific version, and the challenges behind delivering it. Next on the agenda was the agreement between Google and American authors and publishers which has led to the creation of a Book Rights Registry. As we are in the period of legal stuff still going on around this, Frances could not comment on the detail, but it was clear that it colours their approach to books and libraries.
We touched on how embedding services such as the Google Book Search previewer in to a library interface could add value for library users. Coincidentally making this, and other simple extensions to an OPAC easy to implement is a task I’m working on at the moment. Checkout the Panlibus blog for a screenshot of the kind of thing we were discussing.
The conversation then moved on to how to make libraries, and more importantly their holdings, visible and usefully searchable with Google, Yahoo!, and their competitors. It became clear in the conversation that all agreed that there was a role to be played by libraries, vendors, the open source community and the search engine companies to agree upon and promote a way of solving this problem. Maybe such a cooperation would result in a standard that I christened the Open Catalogue Crawling Protocol.
In addition we spent a sort time discussing Summon, the new search interface that Gang Member Andrew Nagy is working on, after his move to Serials Solutions. He was joined on the Gang for this month’s show by Talin Bingham from SirsiDynix, Marshall Breeding and Ex Libris’ Carl Grant.