v.22 #3 The Google Book Settlement: An International Library View

by Stuart Hamilton (Senior Policy Advisor, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), 2509 CH, The Hague, Netherlands)

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Ever since Google began digitizing millions of books in 2002, the Google Book project has fascinated the international library community. The tantalizing possibility of universal access to a massive number of books from American and European libraries, with further expansion to institutions elsewhere in the world — this is the stuff of librarians’ dreams. Even as the years have gone by, and more books have been digitized, at the same time louder voices are heard against the Google initiative. The idea of universal access seems to have faded somewhat from librarians’ minds, even if the possibilities Google Book offers remain attractive and seemingly within reach.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. Founded in 1927, IFLA has 1600 member associations and institutions in approximately 150 countries around the world. In its 83-year history, IFLA has authored and published many books, and therefore has a great interest in the resolution of the Google Book question. Furthermore, some IFLA members are partners in the digitization programme itself, and as such are keen to see the success of the project and increase access to their collections.

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