Monday, April 20, 2009


In its continuing endeavour to digitize the world - or buy what's already been digitized as it were - Google has apparently removed some much needed and much used resources by way of As reported by the American Historical Association, Google bought the content of the website only to remove that content it found aesthetically inferior or out of copyright. After complaints, Google allowed to resurface but only through academic institutions that subscribe to it. In other words, what you got for free before, you now have to go to a location where they're paying for it. "Hegemony" screams some opponents, while R.J. Huggins, founder and CEO of, feels that Google is the only entity that can handle such an enormous task, financially speaking.

Thank Goodness for the vision of NEH and the Library of Congress to institute digital preservation standards and best practices for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). We can only hope and pray Google is willing to digitize, maintain, and preserve its papers as properly as NDNP awardees. We're not perfect, no no, but we do have a clue about our long-term service to our constituents i.e. every American or those interested in America from any discipline.

Leading by example - that's one of the best things that libraries and archives can do.


  1. When exactly does the cat fight end? It slays me to see the great American Us versus Them debate rage on( I comment as a Canadian). As person who pioneered the digitization of newspapers in the world with our company, Cold North Wind, I fail to see how this acrimony between Academics and Google helps 'joe public' access the public record. I have stated on numerous occasions that the newspaper represents 'our' only record of daily public life for the past 500 years with a special emphasis on the word "public".

    I have been through the grinding wheels of both Google and many public institutions whose goal it seems is to preserve and present history from Newspapers. Both have let me down.

    When we began our mission in 1999, there were no standards for digitization. It was a process of establishing a widely adopted TIF format combined with a well deployed viewing software (Adobe Acrobat). I think it naive that standards established by the NDNP in 2008 will be anymore long lasting that the 5 1/2 inch floppy disc.

    In simple mathematics, if one looks at the monies available for the NDNP project from the NEH and divides them amongst all of the newspaper microfilm page images that exist, just in the continental United States, we should have a fine database by 2100.

    It's simply absurd not to call some form of Detante between Google and the public institutions. It's time to form what would be a tremendous 'Public" record database of digitized newspaper microfilm for this generation and all others to come.

    Otherwise we are doomed to continue this provincial squabble to the detriment of all of the 'public'.

    R.J. (Bob) Huggins
    Cold North Wind Inc.

  2. As soon as Google offers Academia the same financial incentive as was offered your company...

    Then again, that's not in anyone's best interest, is it?

    M O N O P O L Y

  3. Dear Mr or Ms. Anonymous,
    Our company was paid $0.08 per newspaper page for our work. If that's agreeable, I'll send this note along to Dan Clancy at Google and we all can begin the work of bringing America's History to all person's who desire the access.

    Then you too, can share in everyone's best interest.

    Bob Huggins

    p.s. Any chance you could leave a real name so you efforts could be recognized?