Robert Darnton and Nicholas Carr have opposing views on today’s “universal libraries” meeting the needs of our current society. Darnton argues that the Internet can provide a online library that is accessible to everyone. Carr believes that the online archives being designed are flawed with technical and legal issues and will therefore remain rudimentary. They both seem to agree with the basic notion that a universal online public library can eliminate access restrictions and make more information available that is not possible with standard public library.
Anyone with access to the internet or a smartphone the ability to examine millions of books and documents, in an exact replica. The vision behind an online digital library are the endless possibilities that look past geography and the ability to make information available for all wealth brackets. Carr debates that the legal, commercial, and political issues within the publishing industry are the only major problems with constructing a universal library. Darnton suggests that the Internet can provide a democratic medium of information, available to all. Both authors agree with the vision of a universal online public library but do not offer any viable solutions or alternatives to the problems that current archives are facing, such as Google Books and the Digital Public Library of America. The universal library cannot prevail due to copyright and access restrictions.
Darnton advocates Google’s attempt to create a free online database. The company digitized hundreds of texts, which resulted in a monstrous copyright infringement lawsuit against Google. Carr believes this case set a legal precedent that could affect the legality of a digital library for years to come. Instead of fighting the lawsuit and defending the unlimited access of the universal library, Google created a digital market for the commercialization of books.
This no longer makes Google Books a universal library with unlimited access to anyone. It creates a “commercial” database of books. They are no longer providing free access to knowledge, but selling a product. This fails the fundamental vision of the universal library, it restricts the public access to information. It has the possibility of becoming a tool to privatize data that the universal library would allow to be available to the public.
A monopoly of knowledge owned by a corporation does not promote the public access to knowledge but creates a wealth barrier. Google Books has implemented paid subscriptions, advertisements, and the selling of e-books to create a business model based not on creating free access to information for the masses but on profit and revenue.
Copyright restrictions limit the amount of books and documents available to the public on Google Books without a paid subscription. It does allow general viewing of public-domain books but the Internet already offers plenty of sources for that. The universal library will only work if copyright...