Books for the News

Google can enable us to go faster and farther?

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The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is reportedly on the verge of a deal with Google to digitize the library’s archive. Denis Bruckmann, director of collections, told the Times of London that “the decision was purely financial,” for the library, which said it needed more money than France provided for digitizing its collection. “If Google can enable us to go faster and farther, then why not?” Bruckman asked.
Why not Google is a question that Jean-Noël Jeanneney answered several times over during his five-year tenure as president of the BnF, a post from which he argued passionately that the company’s mass digitization effort would insidiously extend American cultural dominance abroad. In Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge, he contends that Google’s unsystematic approach must be countered by long-term planning on the part of cultural and governmental institutions worldwide—a serious effort to create a truly comprehensive library, one based on the politics of inclusion and multiculturalism.