Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Google Book Search : A Valuable Assistant for Librarians, Library Acquisitions and Pending Consumer Purchases

Try this Google Book Search link for "law".

Google Book Search is developing into a very interesting information tool, also for librarians, because it provides a quick means for librarians and consumers to determine whether a book should be acquired or not, as one can quickly check out the general nature of the book layout, the table of contents, and index (if any) - which is important for library-acquired books, etc.

One example of the useful features integrated into Google Book Search is the ability to find one's own authored books in the Google Book Search database and/or to find books in which one's own name has been mentioned together with the ability to include books of choice into one's own personal library, here as an example, MyLibrary.

Google Book Search now shows numerous page selections from books but always leaves out a page or two here and there so that the entire book is not accessible, but it provides enough information for a potential buyer or researcher to determine whether the book is of value for purchase or research.

Take a look at the way Google Book Search presents our book Stars Stones and Scholars. We are very much in favor of this approach because it really is a great way for people to determine what books they should buy and is not much different than leafing through a book at a bookstore or book shop.

But there are some important and useful differences. For example, once one has selected a particular book, one can click the menu item "About this book" at the top of the right-hand column. The resulting page provides general library information about the book, including ISBN number and the general subject category to which a book is assigned, a list of key words and phrases in the book, a few selected pages (in the case of Stars Stones and Scholars, 3 pages with illustrations), a search box for entry of key words to be found, popular passages (it would be interesting to see the algorithm that is used to determine this), links to reviews of the book, references to the book from web pages, references to the book from other books, references to the book from scholarly works, links to related books, and a map of places mentioned in the book, followed by a selection of some of those places together with short excerpts from the book about them.

One problem that can arise in looking at some Google Book Search scans is that the text can be virtually too small to read. Internet Explorer 7 has a magnifying glass icon/button in the bottom right hand corner of the status line at the bottom of the IE browser page whereby the size of the page can be substantially increased, making even the smallest text readable. The Sandy Berger Blog points out this feature is also available in Opera and is a godsend in both Opera and IE for screen-bleary tired eyes. Our browser of choice, Firefox, up-to-now has not had such a feature, but Firefox 3.0b2 (beta 2) does integrate full page zoom, although Firefox 3.0 still needs substantial improvement before we will use it, especially since it knocks out the Google Toolbar, which is a capital error.

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