Libraries Reject Google In Favor Of Open Source

    October 22, 2007

The Google Library Project gains new members fairly frequently, and a comparable service from Microsoft also does all right.  A number of libraries have steered clear of the corporate rivalry, though, and have instead opted to side with the Open Content Alliance (OCA).

Interestingly, both Microsoft and Yahoo have ties to the OCA; they’re actually listed as “contributors” within the organization’s site.  But, as reported by Katie Hafner, “Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services.  Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form.  The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service.”

And that seems a little more true to library form, even if there weren’t other matters at stake.  “Scanning the great libraries is a wonderful idea, but if only one corporation controls access to this digital collection, we’ll have handed too much control to a private entity,” explained Brewster Kahle in an interview with Hafner.

So, as a sort of scorecard, or at least an informative glance: the OCA states that the Boston Library Consortium, the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries are among its contributors.  Google’s associated with Harvard.  And Microsoft has signed on both the University of California and the University of Toronto.

Despite financial differences, it seems that the OCA is still doing quite well in its competition with the big corporations.