Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Using Google Books

At the CVGS Computer Group meeting today, we investigated using Google Books. Google Books contains millions of digitized books - some are "full view," some are "limited view," and some are "snippet view." The "full view" has the entire book, while the "limited view" has only some pages from the book. The "snippet view" shows you just a few sentences. Books that have copyright protection, and that the copyright holders have not permitted full access to, have "snippet view" only. Some published books are not available. More information about the different view capabilities of Google Book Search is available at

How do you get to Google Books and use it? Follow these directions:

1) Go to the Google web site at

2) Click on the "More >>" link above the search box. This opens a small box - click on the Books" link.

3) The Book Search box appears. You can input up to 10 words to describe a book. Use quotes around phrases that you want to search. For instance, I wanted to find a History book on Jefferson County, New York I would use [history "jefferson county" "new york" ] in the search box.

4) Using the Jefferson County NY search entry, I got a list of 900 mentions of these terms in books. The first entry is the book "A History of Jefferson County in the State of New York, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time" by Franklin Benjamin Hough, published in 1854. This book is out of copyright, and a "Full View" is available for me to read, print or download.

5) When I select this book, I get Page 9 on my screen. There are zoom in, zoom out, and two page buttons at the top of the page image. I could move to another page by clicking on the left or right arrows just above the book page image. I can put my cursor in the book page field and type in another page number and it will go to that page (if it exists).

5) Note that there is a "Download" button on the far right of the screen - this book is 22.1 mb in PDF format. I could download it, save it to my hard drive, and read it at my leisure.

6) There are links on the right margin for "About this book," "Contents," "Buy this book" and "Find this book in a library."

7) There is also a search box below "Search in this book" - you could input a surname or town name in this search box and get pages with those search terms. In the Jefferson county book, I input the surname "Bell" and a list of pages where that term appears is provided in a list on the right margin - with links to the page.

8) Perhaps the most useful feature in this Google Book search is the "Find this book in a library" link on the right hand margin just above the "Search in this book" box. Click on this link.

9) A page, obtained from WorldCat (the World Catalog of Library holdings) opens with a list of libraries where this book is available to be reviewed in paper format. You can input your own city or a distant city in the "Enter Location Information" box at the top of the list.

10) The list of libraries provides the library name, the distance from your home city, and some entries have a link (Book) to the library catalog so that you can get the call number. For the Jefferson County book, the libraries at SDSU, UCSD and Carlsbad have this book.

Google Books are not the only source of online digitized books, but it certainly has the best user interface and the link to the WorldCat makes it extremely helpful and useful.

Isn't this cool?

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