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Panel Discussion on the Google Book Settlement and Scholarship Now Online


As collections of digitized texts, images, and other content increase in number and size, they are becoming important, even essential, resources for research in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. Google Books is only the most prominent of many mass digitization efforts now afoot. At the 2010 ACLS Annual Meeting, panelists Daniel Clancy (Google Book Search), James Grimmelmann (New York Law School), Helen Cullyer (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and James O'Donnell (Georgetown University and ACLS Board of Directors) examined the benefits and shortfalls of the Google Books program for the scholarly community. Jonathan D. Culler (Cornell University and ACLS Board of Directors) moderated the session.

ACLS is pleased to present this discussion in both streaming audio and mp3 file here.

Discussion of the merits and demerits of the proposed court settlement of the suit against Google has brought to the fore differing visions of the institutional conditions of mass digitization: who should do it, how it should be paid for, what should be included, and who can have access and under what conditions. But whether or not the settlement is approved, it is certain that mass digitization will continue along a number of lines, and the corpus of digitized texts will grow. The academic humanities needs to respond to those facts, paying particular attention to the scholarly utility of digitized content. The increased accessibility and searchability of “the world digital library” promises to empower researchers, but to what degree will current digitization regimes fulfill that promise? How can the scholarly community in general, and learned societies in particular, best engage with entities undertaking mass digitization so as to maximize the research value of collections?

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