It’s hard for me to truly believe (sometimes) that Google thinks of libraries and librarians as anything other than quaint. Bringing this feeling home to me was the size of Google’s ostentatiously humongous booth at the 2006 ALA Annual conference in New Orleans (thanks, Roy, for the photo!). Maybe they thought we were in Texas again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love, envy, resent, fear, and try to emulate Google as much as the next guy (or gal), but there’s just something about that ALA booth that says “if we really had our way, we’d have the whole floor.” Maybe next year.
Give them credit, though. Who would have thought that anyone could have obscured the fact that Microsoft was at ALA?! I had a sense after visiting the Microsoft booth that they were there (and in other places now, too) mostly because Google is. That said, I think I like their approach to gathering scholarly content a little better than Google’s.
Before I am labeled (and please don’t) a “Google detractor,” let me also admit something. There is something intoxicating about being in Google’s presence. I have always been skeptical of their altruism, but I am quick to admit that I really wanted to go to their reception Sunday night. I wanted the hat from the booth, and I jumped through their scavenger hunt hoops like a trained poodle.
After the intoxication wears off, I feel hung over, maybe even a little cheap. But that booth was so big that I also feel like I just woke up in my own house as the tenant rather than the landlord. Like the uninvited guest who has lingered too long, I keep expecting Google to say to our profession, “Oh, are you still here?”
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]