A couple of things really grabbed my attention:
1. Kalamazoo Promise. In a nutshell, graduate from the public schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan, get a free college education at a public university or community college. This program is funded by anonymous donors, but the whole community has become involved in one way or another, supporting these kids, 65% of whom live below the poverty level. Many help with mentoring, tutoring, food, medical care, etc. The city, in the middle of an economically depressed area, has experienced 10% growth in schools, 7,000 new jobs in the three years of the program.
2.Google Book scanning project at Ohio State University. Google works with libraries, publishers and authors. Google picks up books, scans them, and returns them two weeks later. Out-of-copyright books are available online fulltext; copyrighted books are available only in snippets. The library gets back a scanned copy of out-of-copyright works.
Google has very recently reached a settlement with publishers. Soon, in the U.S., individuals will be able to pay to download copyrighted materials (fee to vary depending on market value of the book). Universities and libraries will be able to get institutional subscriptions. Libraries will offer terminals where readers can access out-of-print books full text for free (no downloads or prints, view only).
Some attendees seemed skeptical of the advantages to libraries of participating in the scanning project. However, I see some wonderful possibilities.
First of all, Google has taken care of all of the legal settlements.
Secondly, about 7 million books will be available immediately. Some of these books may be rare items or items otherwise difficult to obtain by means such as Interlibrary Loan.
Finally—and this is the part I really love--every word of every book scanned is searchable. Anyone who has worked with indexing (as we in SBN have) immediately understands the value of this kind of access. CML could not hope to index and digitize a whole collection with Google's speed and cost. What if we could get some of our genealogy collection scanned, for example?
I think that Google Books might well alter the way libraries collect, preserve, and access materials.
I feel my neurons firing now. And that's the point of the conference, right?