Thursday, 24th August 2006
Google Adds Library Search to Book Search: Thoughts, Issues, Questions; Google's Contract with U of California
This post on the Google Blog reports that Google has added links for many books from several union catalogs to Google Book Search. Peter Suber reports lots of WorldCat content. No surprise, lots of it has been available for a while so today's news means that the service has been extended and a new special interface. However, lots of hoops to jump through to get to the content and it's often hard to find library links. A better situation would be to take the end user directly to the libraries they have access to.
1) Like we said about WorldCat.org last week, telling a user (not a librarian) that a book is readily available at The Library of Congress or a nearby university or special library in MOST cases does the patron no good since the public doesn't have access to these libraries. Another issue is whether libraries can afford a growing number of interlibrary loans; and a bigger issue, will people wait for an ILL? I think many people would just buy the book. That's fine especially for the publishing industry but it does bring up lots of questions.* We think all of this can cause confusion (about how libraries work) and reinforces the belief that libraries are difficult and user unfriendly. If a person is confused they'll likely just buy the book (if available, new or used) or just forget it and forget libraries in the future. Maybe not just for books but for other services. In some ways a bit of confusion might not be a bad thing for publishers and book vendors. But what does this mean for libraries, their collections, and getting the material to the end user? What does it mean for how people feel about libraries? Also, remember that Google Book Search is not complete, at least for now. Example: searching for The Da Vinci Code returns books about the book/movie but not the actual book.
+ Here's an example where you can see library results at the bottom of the page.
2) We tried several random searches and found no library links. Hard to find a pattern.
+ Subject search: What News?
Unable to find library link.
+ Telecommunications: Technological and Regulatory Factors Affecting Consumer Choice of Internet
Also, library listings used to be found on "about books" pages. Not here.
+ Subject Search: Chicago
+ Subject/Title: The Da Vinci Code
No library listings.
+ Subject: Books about animation
No library listings.
+ Subject/Title: The Role of GATT in Relation to Trade and Development
In this case, a link "to find in a library" is found on the book's actual page. But this government document does not have library links either on the docs entry page or the search results page.
+ Subject: Books about animation
+ It appears that some "full view books" offer the direct link to library listings (this has been available for a while) on the book's title page. However, this is not the case for all full view books. Another example.
+ We know it's a beta
+ Yes, you can search all "Google Library Books" using this interface (if the user finds it, many will not) and limit to library catalogs. Also via advanced interface. There are no methods to sort your results. As we said earlier, it's a many-click effort to find if your library has the book. We pointed this out last week with our OCLC post. Bottom Line: This is a front end for WorldCat.org. (and othe catalogs). If this is what people are going to use, why is OCLC investing in their own site? What about other OPAC vendors? Are local OPACS needed? Of course, WorldCat.org offers more features and more complete results. Google would also be offering better documentation about what is and is not available and how it all works.
1) via Google, find advanced interface and limit to libraries
Title: Click, Africa Adorned
One false drop.
2) Click "find libraries"
3) Transported to WorldCat.org
Enter Zip or Postal Code, click
4) Note many libraries are not accessible to the public. Other libraries clicked on take user to library OPAC home page. These are the same issues we discussed here.
OA guru Peter Suber points out library results frequently appear (at least for now) if Google's engine thinks you're looking for a specific title, like this search for books authored by Tom Clancy.
However, Suber also points out, correctly, that this doesn't hold true all of the time. For example, here are three books titled "The Great Chicago Fire." However, no library results. Even a phrase search does not trigger. The same goes for Roger Kahn's baseball classic, The Boys of Summer.
Want another possibility: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell does not offer library results on the search results page but does on the entry page. Since this is a beta (that word again) let's give Google a few week's and take another look after the Labor Day holiday here in the U.S.
* As we've noted in the past, this is the quote from Google's Chief Counsel at a Google Book Search debate held at the NY Public Library last November. Via the NY Times:
Let's remember this quote from the NY Times, November 19, 2006
Mr. Adler [vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Association of American Publishers], said Google’s contention that its search program might somehow increase sales of books was speculation at best.
“When people make inquiries using Google’s search engine and they come up with references to books, they are just as likely to come to this fine institution to look up those references as they are to buy them,” he said, referring to the Public Library.
To which Google’s Mr. Drummond replied, “Horrors.”
Some interesting comments in response to a Washington Post op-ed about GBS from Ben Vershbow.
See Also: Details of Google Contract with University of California (via The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Full text of contract (13 pages; PDF)