March 11, 2010

Google Pushing the Way Forward for Public Access

by Heather Falconer

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s efforts to digitalize books outside of the US have not been hampered in any way by the court proceedings taking place on US soil – they recently announced partnerships with national governments throughout Europe to digitalize out-of-copyright texts. These latest endeavors include scanning approximately one million books held in libraries in Florence and Rome, including texts by significant historical figures like Galileo Galilei.

We think this could have interesting consequences on providing public access to educational and research materials. A similar effort, in terms of making scholarly research material public, has been underway through the Committee on Science and Technology, US House of Representatives. As educators, we understand how important it is to have free, accurate, and historically significant resources at the disposal. Should the efforts of the Committee and Google be fruitful, it could usher in a new paradigm of learning – particularly in the sciences. We can only “stand on the shoulders of giants” if we have access to a stepladder.

Heather Falconer

Written by

Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics – from research writing to marine biology – in the public and private educational sectors.