via The University of Chicago Press website [thanks Ross!]:
Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge : A View from Europe
by Jean-Noel Jeanneney, Ian Wilson (Foreword), Teresa Lavender Fagan (Translator)
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 1, 2006)
The recent announcement that Google will digitize the holdings of several major libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright infringement and unanticipated effects on the business of research and publishing.
Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France's Bibliothèque Nationale, here takes aim at what he sees as a far more troubling aspect of Google's Library Project: its potential to misrepresent—and even damage—the world’s cultural heritage. In this impassioned work, Jeanneney argues that Google's unsystematic digitization of books from a few partner libraries and its reliance on works written mostly in English constitute acts of selection that can only extend the dominance of American culture abroad. This danger is made evident by a Google book search the author discusses here—one run on Hugo, Cervantes, Dante, and Goethe that resulted in just one non-English edition, and a German translation of Hugo at that. An archive that can so easily slight the masters of European literature—and whose development is driven by commercial interests—cannot provide the foundation for a universal library.
As a leading librarian, Jeanneney remains enthusiastic about the archival potential of the Web. But he argues that the short-term thinking characterized by Google's digital repository 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.
For those who are interested in this issue, a video stream of an argument offered by Lawrence Lessig [or else here] in favor of the Google project; or else read his article:
Google's Tough Call
By Lawrence Lessig (Wired Magazine Issue 13:11, Nov 2005)
And more info here:
Another Google Book Search Commentary Roundup
By Andrew Raff (IPTA Blog, Dec 2005)