system. “They were going to come to Ann Arbor and talk to us and help us design a process.”
“And then one day [last September] they called us up and said they were going to sue us instead.”
Once again U-M’s name was dragged into a lawsuit over copyright infringement—not the kind of media buzz an academic institution seeks. In 2005, the Authors Guild sued Google, claiming that the mother of all search engines had violated its members’ copyrights when it announced plans to scan millions of books in the libraries of the U-M and other schools.
As U-M provost from 2002 to 2005, Courant negotiated the agreement with Google for what is now known as Google Books—a factor that played into his surprise selection as university librarian in 2007. He now reports to provost Phil Hanlon, who used to report to him. But it’s Courant who’s making news in academia, through his work to reshape U-M’s vast holdings into a prototype for the libraries of the twenty-first century—libraries with more digital resources, many fewer books, and much of their space repurposed.