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Google Book Search and the Philippines

A lot has already been said about Google Book Search by authors, publishers, librarians, and just about everyone who likes, buys or sells books. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan (UM), joins the debate in a recent speech defending Google's digitization project.

What Filipinos might find interesting is that Coleman cites her institution's relationship with the University of the Philippines as an example of UM's commitment to the public good:
The Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the war claimed many victims, including the campus of the University of the Philippines and its renowned library. Troops torched the books, destroying all but a handful of the 147,000-volume collection. The librarian of the Filipino university described this incredible loss as an "intellectual famine."

Because the University of Michigan had a long history of Filipino scholarship, we immediately went to work helping to rebuild the University of the Philippines Library. We filled box after box with books from our library, from our students, from the University of Michigan Press and from other publishing houses. And we rallied other institutions to donate books that would form a core of scholarship for Filipinos.

Over the course of seven years, more books were acquired for the University of the Philippines Library than had been collected in its 31-year history prior to the war.
Read the entire speech (html via Not Liz; pdf via Searchblog), or if you'd like to read a brief summary of the issues involved, see "Google's Great Works in Progress" by Burt Helm (BusinessWeek, 22 December 2005).

For a more technical analysis of the copyright issues involved, check out "The Google Book Search Project: Is Online Indexing a Fair Use Under Copyright Law?" by Robin Jeweler (Congressional Research Service, 28 December 2005). To see what bloggers are saying about Google Book Search, try Technorati and Google Book Search.

Category: Libraries

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