February 17, 2018

LC Union Warns About Google, Restates Core Mission

By LJ Staff

Trust the Library of Congress over Google, Saul Schniderman, president of the Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME Local 2910, told Congress July 27 during an oversight hearing held by the Committee on House Administration. While last November Librarian of Congress James Billington announced support from Google for a World Digital Library, Schniderman warned that the library’s mission is not the same as Google’s mission. Google aims to organize and make accessible "all of the world’s information," while LC’s is "to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations."

Google’s mission, Schniderman contends, runs into copyright issues – and so does the World Digital Library. LC "cannot digitize the vast bulk of its holdings while the U.S. copyright law remains in effect…. We would therefore caution Congress not to regard the digitization of collections as the Library’s central mission or core function." And Schniderman pointed to the perceived tradeoff between going digital and preserving LC’s cataloging functions: "[W]hile digitization projects are useful and prestigious, they provide access to only a microscopic portion of the Library’s collections, and for that reason should not be regarded as core functions that are more important than existing operations, such as our cataloging and classification work."