History, Press Releases

Press Release: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

jacket imageGoogle’s announcement that it would digitize the holdings of several major research libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a sort of cultural gift to the world, a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library that would be accessible to all. But skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about its potential to misrepresent—and even damage— the world’s cultural heritage.
In Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France’s Bibliothèque Nationale, reminds us of the commercial nature of Google’s enterprise and the problems and conflicts of interest inherent in such a profit-oriented approach to international cultural treasures. Moreover, he questions the very notion of a private corporation spearheading an effort that he believes should be in the hands of the public at large. Jeanneney closes by laying out the steps he thinks must be taken by cultural and governmental institutions worldwide to create a truly universal library—one representing all cultures and all languages.
Read the press release.