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Google Makes Strange Bedfellows Rick Burke Executive Director SCELC.

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1 Google Makes Strange Bedfellows Rick Burke Executive Director SCELC

2 What’s SCELC? The Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium Founded in 1986 Works with over 90 private academic and research libraries throughout the state to: License electronic resources Share information and expertise Provide reciprocal borrowing and interlibrary loan cooperation among members Licensing is SCELC’s bread and butter We make premium content affordable for smaller libraries We finance our operation via surcharges to subscriptions

3 Polaroid Are libraries and/or publishers headed the way of Polaroid, record stores, classified newspaper ads, travel agents…? We all know the net and digital information has changed so many things: newspapers, radio, music distribution and more… What’s to stop the same from happening to libraries and their electronic info providers? The first stop for most of us is Google, not a library or a commercial research database

4 Along Comes Google, and… Libraries and content owners/information providers see themselves as allies This is new in many ways, thanks to the perceived “Google threat” Why do we need to work together, more so than before? Libraries understand the value of your content, and the search interfaces you provide to access that content

5 What Higher Ed Provides A context for teaching higher level research skills to students Produces much of the essential research that drives our economy An environment that values premium content and makes it available for free to its students and faculty An environment that both generates, needs, and uses “deep web” material

6 A Possible Scenario Google purchases rights to a large amount of content from one or more very large, significant publishers The content becomes available to all, financed by advertising revenue Libraries and library consortia are cut out of the picture

7 What’s Lost Libraries and consortia are tough customers, pushing publishers to implement new technologies and observe new terms of access In the new scenario, this element is removed They’re replaced by advertisers and Google as the key stakeholders who can influence the information access sphere Information organized with taxonomies is supplanted by free-form keyword access and uncontrolled user-submitted metadata

8 What Libraries Lose Library advisory boards and consortia help guide and improve content and search interface issues Libraries lose this input Consortial business models are severely disrupted as they become less relevant Subscriptions decline as the influence of libraries declines Hey, it’s all on Google anyway, right?

9 What Higher Ed Loses Libraries (and faculty) take seriously the education of students to do research properly In a ‘net world, you need to know the validity, authority, currency and source of your information Faculty depend on the verifiable exchange of information to maintain the ongoing research process that has successfully energized research since WWII In the new environment, can you imagine students being lectured on “how to use Google?”

10 What Advertisers Gain Much like radio, TV or newspapers, could advertisers replace libraries and consortia as the real gatekeepers of information? Could advertisers dictate what is made available, homogenizing the information environment and reducing it to the lowest common denominator? Imagine advisory boards constituted by advertisers rather than librarians….

11 The Free Market Do we truly want a purely market-driven information space, where the voices of the higher education research community are drowned out by what is popular? On the other hand, is the Google audience really less sophisticated? Might new approaches to peer review and impact factors emerge to make the new scenario work satisfactorily? What might these approaches look like? See Nupedia or Stanford Ency. of Philosophy

12 The Net Neutrality Factor What if the cable and phone companies are successful in creating a new, tiered, pay-as- you-go Web? If Congress fails to establish net neutrality standards, these corporations could drive policy What if your content isn’t “top tier”, access- wise? What will it cost to make it top tier?

13 Disintermediation If Google obviates the need for direct access to your content via your proprietary search interface, why need publishers at all? Maybe one new approach that takes hold is Open Access Publishers get supplanted by authors (faculty) who own their content, and, using the influence of their universities, and perhaps their libraries or even consortia, broker “top tier” web access

14 The New World In the new world of information, brokering full bandwidth access to information could become paramount If content is king, then libraries/universities go to the source of the content -- the authors We negotiate contracts with Google, Microsoft or Yahoo (or whoever is the next big thing) to make it available Libraries become the filters to help people sift through the digital info for what’s quality Publishers? What role for publishers? It’s indeed a whole new world…..

15 What to do? Know your customers and meet their needs better than a general tool like Google Build on the strength of your content, in context Specialized databases will likely persist even in this environment Adapt new technologies to your product, keeping pace with what’s hot in the ‘net world

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