Your Timing Sucks

I am so very skeptical of Google’s latest conveniently-timed issue of the Google Librarian Newsletter. Does Google really think we have such short memories and are so gullible?

A bit of background. In December 2005, Google launched its Librarian Central blog and newsletter. This quarterly publication was dutifully updated (mostly) on schedule until May 2007. Then it stopped. On the blog that June, they noted they were going to take a “summer break”. It was a long summer.

In June 2008, the librarian blogosphere started questioning whether or not we had been used (or allowed ourselves to be used) by Google in their quest for access to books for their scanning project. Steven Cohen really hit on it with his June 29th, 2008 post to Library Stuff. Conveniently, just 2 weeks after the brouhaha erupted, a new issue of the Librarian Newsletter was released. What, like Google wouldn’t be aware of the mini revolt brewing?

Then, again, nothing.

Nothing until this week when the Librarian Newsletter was once again released. (In spite of the April 6th date, it wasn’t posted until the 21st). Funny, ha-ha, the first paragraph starts with “After a 6-month hiatus, the Google Librarian Newsletter has returned!” Try 10 months.

Fully 70%* of the newsletter has to do with Google Book Search and why it is so awesome. Oh, you mean that controversial project that led to a controversial settlement, opposition to which is starting to pick up steam in the media and in the library community? A settlement that the court still has to approve and for which objections are being accepted until May 5th?

Please. I’m not an idiot. I’m not saying I support or oppose the Google Book Search settlement. This actually has nothing to do with my feelings on that topic either way. However, I do strongly oppose being seen as a patsy.

Hey, Google. Librarians have great memories for little details. It’s one of the things that makes us good at finding information. We’ve also been used by big publishers before, too many times to be comfortable with. But we’re getting feistier and less willing to roll over. We’re not some awkward schoolgirl who will forgive your absence and agree with anything you do just because you’re back and ready to give us a little attention when you want something. Give us just a smidge more credit than that and try being a bit circumspect when giving us your bread and circuses.

*2079 words in the newsletter, 1436 words in the articles about Book Search