Wow, who would have thought that this announcement by Google would start a new squabble between Europe and the US?
As part of its effort to make offline information searchable online, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced that it is working with the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford as well as The New York Public Library to digitally scan books from their collections so that users worldwide can search them in Google.
SInce December 2004 Google has digitized 14,000 books a day, with the goal of digitizing 15 million before the project is complete. It was the French who immediately smelled an Anglo-American conspiracy against Old Europe:
PARIS--France's national library has raised a "war cry" over plans by Google to put books from some of the world's great libraries on the Internet and wants to ensure the project does not lead to a domination of American ideas.
Jean-Noel Jeanneney, who heads France's national library and is a noted historian, says Google's choice of works is likely to favor Anglo-Saxon ideas and the English language.
He wants the European Union to balance this with its own program and its own Internet search engines.
"Here we find a risk of crushing domination by America in defining the idea that future generations have of the world," he wrote, urging the EU to act fast.
Meanwhile, according to Der Spiegel, German librarians are mulling over their options. The Digital Libarary Forum ( in Germany:EUBAM: Arbeitsgruppe zu europäischen Angelegenheiten für Bibliotheken, Archive und Museen) is putting together a project to digitize books from key European libraries. And Spiegel itself backs Project Gutenberg , which has already ready digitzed half a million pages. But it is doubtful that any group could compete with Google on a project of this scale. Best option is to throw in the towel to the Americans and work with Google on expanding the project throughout Europe.