Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google Book and ILL

I love getting tips from students. And this is a good one: search Google Book and then InterLibrary Loan the book or chapter.

A little background: the Google Book Search, formerly Google Print, is the book scanning project that brought a spate of copyright protests and lawsuits (PDF) to Google's door over the last year or so. They scan the books, make a searchable index, and then show little snipits of text as search results. Just a few lines on most pages, though copyright holders can allow more. It's just enough to figure out if the reference is really to your topic or not, in most cases. There are links to new and used book sellers on each page, like Amazon and Alibris.

I wrote about Google Books, when it was still Google Print, back in Oct. 2004. There have been a few changes, besides the name. You may have to register to read some materials. (Anyone who wants to get a Gmail account to some additional benefits for registering, contact me!) Many results are now "snippits" (just a few lines) rather than pages. And you will now see Book Results at the top of many regular Google Searches. Just click the Book Results link to go into Google Book.

Now, I had somewhat realized the potential of this. For anyone who's worked with ILL, being able to search tables of contents and indexes (which is essentially what Google Book creates) creates amazing potential. Combine that with our ILL policy for distance students, which includes limited copying of print resources in our library, and we have some really intriguing possibilities. However, I hadn't thought of it as an actual tool for discovering new sources, and I hadn't tried it on any questions that I've gotten. That will change now. I also hadn't realized that it might include some of our own Reference Books, like the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (library catalog record, Google Book link, vol 1).

A few caveats: Because of the lukewarm response from publishers, Google Book has an odd mixture of materials. The Google Library Project is contributing many books, but these lean towards older materials and special collections. Google seems to want publishers to contribute new materials. Since Google is scanning books from libraries, some...well...non-books make it through, too, because libraries often bind other materials and include them in their collections. I found what I think is the 1934 year of the magazine Recreation, but I can't be sure until we check the citation with our microfilm. Google has also made some arrangements with foreign publishers last year, but it's unclear how many books in non-English languages are now available from the publishers or the Library Project.

As always, searching can be a challenge, so be prepared to play around with your search terms and be sure to try the Advanced Search if things get sticky. If you have a particular book you want to try searching, find the ISBN number (from our library catalog records,, etc.) and enter it in the Advanced Search box for ISBN's. (And speaking of, don't forget their Search Inside the Book feature as a similar tool.)

And keep those tips coming!


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