On a recent prospective student tour of the University of Iowa, our tour guide walked the group in front of a glass enclosed conference room, and proudly pointed out the electronic tablets and floor to ceiling white boards. With eighteen “private study rooms,” two “large group rooms,” and six “open group areas” on the library’s main floor, it made our group wonder where all of the books were placed to make space for these high tech areas.  We were right to question this, because as David Streitfeld describes, a librarian he recently interviewed explained that “a lot of libraries are doing pretty drastic weeding.” Are librarians responding to public requests for spaces, and slowly losing sight of what libraries were created to do? As we scan books to make room for spaces that utilize the technology of smart boards and video screens, we need to protect printed books and not pack them away or discard them. Scanning projects like the “Million Book Project” and “Google Books” have attempted (and are close to achieving) the historic goal of compiling a comprehensive digital global book collection. However, this goal has been controversial as Google Books tracks readers for marketing purposes, saves error-laden scans, and is monetizing of the world’s literature. Google publicizes that their main goal is to “improve access to books – not to replace them.” Brewster Kahle does not trust this, and because of his concerns, he created the”Internet Archive” storage facility for books; but his project is duplicating efforts. Kahle’s costly system of closed containers is not needed because the Library of Congress has already been archiving books for centuries on publicly accessible bookshelves.
Kahle wants to ensure that every printed book in the public domain is saved, and to ensure this he built a facility where books are scanned and stored in large temperature controlled metal shipping containers. Kahle considers his facility a fundamental resource, and he compares it to the historic “Great Library of Alexandria,” (300 B.C.) which compiled everything ever written at the time. Kahle’s containers of boxed books do create great amounts of storage, but without convenient access, his system is not a library, but rather an insurance plan in case of a disaster. The Library of Congress in contrast, provides public access to their entire collection on site (although checking books is only possible for elected officials) and patrons can request book transfers to their local libraries for branch-only viewing.
Brewster Kahle has been criticized in the media, and Streitfeld uses a less than idealized tone toward his project. He mockingly refers to Kahle as a “latter-day Noah,” and cynically points out that he is funding the project with money made from selling a data-mining company to Amazon.com.  Interestingly, Kahle does not specifically address a plan for future funding, which could be an issue when he is no longer at the helm of the project. Financial stability of the donation dependant Archive could impact the future of the stored books.
The Internet Archive facility (built for $3 million) contains approximately six million scanned titles. Google books by contrast, has a library of over 150 million electronic books, and works in partnership with over forty worldwide libraries. They have been a large part of the earliest digital archive projects, and although some of Google’s practices are questionable, their system does provide access to a vast library for the masses. Kahle’s lackluster online platform is not user friendly, and his system of packing up public domain materials, and removing them from circulation seems to banish them to darkness where they will never be seen again.
Although Google Books has succeeded in building the world’s largest online library, we should use caution and not depend on them to hold the exclusive copy of a book. Skepticism toward Google practices should motivate our librarians to keep hard copies of books on the shelves. The Google Books project continues to use controversial methods of targeted advertising and electronic tracking called “Google Analytics,” to generate profit from both public domain material and copyright protected material.  A reader simply accessing literature online is tracked and observed, and the information can be used for marketing and advertising purposes. Google uses “remarketing” which helps “find customers who have shown an interest in…products and services, then show them relevant ads.” Reading literature should be a personal experience and not an opportunity for being electronically “followed.” Kahle feels his archive is the better solution because in reality, “Google’s search tool has become a digital bookstore.” While readers are accessing literature, Google provides “clickable” links on each page for the purchase of books. Frequent critic of book digitization, Rory Litwin, in his book Library Juice Concentrate (2006), quotes Google co-founder Larry Page as saying he was a “firm believer in academic libraries being able to ‘monetise’ the information they hold.” This is a questionable opinion for someone in control of the world’s largest online book source. Libraries should not be connected to the business of book selling, but continue to be a free resource for all citizens.
With each generation of a scan, errors are occasionally made and permanently archived. Illustrations are a vital element of printed literature, and details are sometimes muddled, out of focus or pixilated. In addition, pages are sometimes scanned in a crumpled or folded manner, and replaced with unreadable type or images of gloved fingers. Many of these images are collected and displayed on blogs by people who document errors made through scans. One such collection is located on the micro-blogging site, “Tumblr.” (http://theartofgooglebooks.tumblr.com/) Krissy Wilson, creator of “The Art of Google Books,” sifts through scanned pages in Google Books searching for errors during the digitizing process. She collects and chronicles these photos and sees “book digitization as re-photography and…worthy of documentation and study.” I see these “Google hands” as an important reminder that the Google Book project is executed by human beings who make errors. This is another important reason that our printed versions should not be discarded or put aside. They will continue to be needed for reference and viewing, and her blog highlights things that commonly go wrong.
Our largest book archive, the Library of Congress, is preserving the printed book on 838 miles of bookshelves, and adds 12,000 items to its collection daily. Although every book that receives a U.S. copyright is required to be provided to the Library, books that are not chosen for the collection are shared with various libraries around the United States. The Library of Congress keeps 158 million items in three buildings, and they are also using scanning technology to protect their collection to provide more public access. The Library scans books to create digital copies for safekeeping, and “uses the full range of traditional methods of conservation and binding as well as newer technologies such as the deacidification of paper and the digitization of original materials to preserve its collections.” According to their website, 234,333 books are available online through their system, and the historic and rare books continue to be protected on the shelves of this collection.
Our libraries and the printed books on their shelves are a precious resource. Although digitizing books is an important part of creating access for the public, how we handle the printed editions after the scans is just as important. Google has amassed an extensive digital library, and the curated system of the Library of Congress (which has existed since the year 1800) is the best system we have so far for archiving our print literature. Vital information will be lost without access to printed books, and Kahle’s solution seems to be a redundant and unsustainable “band-aid” approach to the preservation of our collections.
 University of Iowa Libaries; Learning Commons; “Spaces/Hardware.”
 Streitfeld, “In a Flood Tide of Digital Data. “
 Google; About Google Books; “Perspectives. “
 Kahle, “Why Preserve Books?” (blog).
 Internet Archive; About Us; “The Bibliotheca Alexandrina.”
 Streitfeld, “In a Flood Tide of Digital Data.”
 Google; About Google Books: “Library Partners.”
 Google; Google Analytics; “Features.”
 Kahle, “A Book Grab by Google,” Google Books provides a “button” for accessing pricing for most books that have been scanned into their system. Price comparisons are provided between several online booksellers, and with the click of a mouse, a book can be ordered and shipped directly to the reader.
 Litwin, Library Juice Concentrate, 61.
 Wilson; Tumblr “The Art of Google Books.”
 Library of Congress; About the Library; “Fascinating Facts about the Library of Congress.”
 Library of Congress; About the Library; “Frequently Asked Questions.”
Google; About Google Books: “Library Partners,” accessed April 8, 2015, https://www.google.com/googlebooks/library/partners.html
———; About Google Books; “Perspectives,” accessed April 5, 2015,
———; Google Analytics; “Features,” accessed April 1, 2015
Internet Archive; “The Bibliotheca Alexandrina;” accessed March 28, 2015,
Kahle, Brewster, “A Book Grab by Google,” The Washington Post, May 19, 2009.
———; “Why Preserve Books? “The New Physical Archive of the Internet Archive,”
Internet Archive Blogs, June 6, 2011. http://blog.archive.org/2011/06/06/why-preserve-books- the-new-physical-archive-of-
Library of Congress; About the Library; “Fascinating Facts about the Library of Congress;”
Accessed April 3, 2015, http://www.loc.gov/about/fascinating-facts/
Library of Congress; About the Library; “Frequently Asked Questions;” accessed March 31,
Litwin, Rory. Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth: Minnesota, Library Juice Press, 2006.
Streitfeld, David, “In a Flood Tide of Digital Data, An Ark Full of Books and Film,” New York Times, New York, NY, March 4, 2012.
University of Iowa Libaries; Learning Commons; “Spaces/Hardware.” Accessed April 11, 2015 http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/commons/spaces-hardware/
Wilson, Krissy; Tumblr; “The Art of Google Books;” (blog), accessed March 24, 2015,