Robert Darnton's "The Library in the New Age"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jun 19 18:32:07 UTC 2008

I assume everyone has read Robert Darnton's "The Library in the New
Age" (The New York Review of Books, June 12, 2008), but if not it is
on-line at:

(Darnton is the recently-appointed -- July, 2007 -- Carl H.
Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the Harvard
University Library.)

He likes libraries as well as Google Books, but only touches the
surface of the latter's errors, talking only of reproduction:

"5. Google will make mistakes. Despite its concern for quality and
quality control, it will miss books, skip pages, blur images, and
fail in many ways to reproduce texts perfectly. Once we believed that
microfilm would solve the problem of preserving texts. Now we know better."

He does not discuss misinformation in Google Books' cataloging,
although one might expect he would have looked into that, considering
that he does write:

"Google employs hundreds, perhaps thousands, of engineers but, as far
as I know, not a single bibliographer."



The American Dialect Society -

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