Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Google Print

Google is digitizing books and articles and providing excerpts in their search results. The project is called Google Print. While the entire book or article is digitized, only a few pages per search are available, and printing and copying are disabled. So this is essentially just a way of browsing through the book to see if you want to buy it. Details of the project are available at the Google Print website, http://print.google.com/.

Search expert Tara Calishain has written a neat little search for the pilot program, available at her ResearchBuzz site at http://www.researchbuzz.org/archives/002027.shtml. She also has written about the continuation of the project, and the problems from a searcher's point of view at http://www.researchbuzz.org/archives/002056.shtml. She reports that searching for "books about X" with X being your subject will reliably bring a few books to the top of the search results (under News). So a search for books about "distance education" on Google brings up:

Distance Education Evolution - edited by Dominique Monolescu, Catherine Schifter, ... - 326 pages

Clicking on the title brings me to a page seemingly chosen for the number of times my search words are used: in this case, a page of references. I can view a couple pages forward and back from the resulting page. I can also view the table of contents, index, and a synopsis (About this book) which includes a search link for reviews (most of which go to booksellers like Amazon.) At this point I can also do a search for another term, such as library, in the "Search within this book" box, and get a list of pages on which my term is used. There is a limit on the number of pages you can view, so this would be good for checking a citation, or getting an idea of how often a subject is covered within the book, but not for actually reading. Which is, of course, the idea.

At this point, I might click on the Amazon link, then on one of the Library Lookup Bookmarklets I have installed and see if we have this book. Southern does have this book, so I can now stroll down to LC5803.C65 D545 2004 and get it off the shelf.


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