Google Book Search: Users speak


[MUSIC PLAYING] JO GULDI: My name is Jo Guldi. I’m a graduate student at UC
Berkeley in the history department. I work on the history of the
British road system. I’m interested in the roads as
a social and cultural rather than an economic expansion. And I am in the process of
writing a dissertation, a PhD dissertation. And this requires flying all
over the world looking at libraries on different
continents, in my case, looking at 18th century, 19th
century private records in all sorts of archives. I was doing an internet search
and one of the names of an obscure road engineer– nobody should know about this
road engineer except me– and I was having such troubles
finding even primary source material on him, even in the
libraries, even by the most rigorous of the old methods. And I thought, I wonder
what Google knows. So I typed in the name of this
obscure road engineer and up popped this entire volume
about his work. ERIN MCKEAN: I’m Erin McKean and
I’m the blogger behind the blog “A Dress A Day,” and also
the blog “Dictionary Evangelist.” And my day job is
that I’m the chief consulting editor for American Dictionaries
for Oxford University Press. My blog, “A Dress A Day,”
is really just that. I post something about a dress
or something dress-related almost every day. And a lot of the time
I talk about writing that’s about dresses. So I’ll link to a book that
talks about dresses. So I’ll put into Google Book
Search a couple words at random, one of which is always
the word dress, and see what comes up. And it’s always surprising
what comes up. In fact I did it today. What I found was a description
of the dresses worn at a White House event by Mrs. Ulysses
S. Grant, the first lady. So I thought that was just
really interesting. And it’s not a book that you can
walk into most libraries and pull off the shelf. There are not a lot of copies
of this kind of thing. JO GULDI: The standard scholar
looking for all of the resources on the subject spends
a lot of time getting familiar with the interlibrary
loan system of the library. But now instead of continuously
submitting these requests to interlibrary loan
I’m on Google Book Search seeing if there happens to be
a digitized copy of the manuscript. I can just look through it. I can do a full text search. ERIN MCKEAN: I was reliant on
books’ indexes which, I know a lot of indexers and they’re
great, but they can’t predict everything that a person is
going to want to look up in an index, and indexes can
only be so big. So they are constrained by the
number of pages devoted to them and by the amount of time
the indexer is given to index the book. So Google Book Search, you can
look for things that indexer didn’t think were worth
indexing, or that they didn’t think anybody would
want to look up. JO GULDI: There are so many
beautiful rich books that cover this era when
London’s shape and architecture is changing. And most of these have been
digitized now so you can now go in see these lithographs upon
lithographs and prints upon prints of all of the new
streets that are being built, all of the new churches, the
architectural splendor, the shopping arcades. This sort of very specific,
honed research is made possible by keyword searching. It’s not the scholars only tool
but it’s a new tool of a great deal of agility and
precision that scholars didn’t used to have that’s suddenly
being made new by Google Book Search. ERIN MCKEAN: When you scan a
book and when you make the contents available for
word-by-workd searching you unleash a whole lot of
information that was in that book that was just trapped
there, that people couldn’t get at. They didn’t know the book
existed, they didn’t know it talked about this if it did
exist. And it frees people to find connections where they
wouldn’t find it otherwise. Google Book Search has
triggered a lot of book buying for me. Books about the emotional
language of Japanese, and some dictionaries, and some books
that I just ran across that had nothing to do with my
project that I wanted anyway. They make it so easy. There are lists right there
on the right-hand side. You can click through
to any number of booksellers and find a copy. JO GULDI: It’s also performing
a huge service in the name of spreading knowledge,
spreading learning, and spreading access. Google Book Search is spreading
knowledge and making knowledge infinitely
accessible. ERIN MCKEAN: I think one of the
things that Google Book Search and that all search
engines really do well is they, if you use them right, you
can increase the amount of happy accidents in your life.

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12 thoughts on “Google Book Search: Users speak”

  1. Tuxster3 says:


  2. africalive says:

    Google Books is an amazing new resource of particular use to historians.

  3. Fairy Lisa says:

    It's not that complicated, it allows you to search the full text of the book but if the book is still in copyright then you only get a limited view. If it's out of copyright you can probably download the whole book, and of course the video mentions the right hand navigation that lets you buy the book or check it out from a library and because of that it can actually help sell more books without infringing on the copyright itself.


  4. Orest Kinasevych says:

    The PhD student has a rather large tome propping up the monitor on her desk! Is this a deliberate editorial comment on the value/purpose of books after they're digitized? Hmm.

  5. JanDeluxe78 says:

    Google Book Search helped my immensely with my thesis (political science). I saved a lot of time I would have otherwise spent searching for sources, and at most times I wouldn't have found them in the libraries, even in the German National Library.

  6. Roger Moore says:

    Indeed! Google is amazing for bringing some of the most hard to find books on a wide range of subjects. I am from Trinidad and none of the books that I now enjoy exist in the libraries here. Thank you Google!

  7. blackboy1313 says:

    Respond to this video…

  8. Kevin Shockey says:

    While this video hinted at what might be possible 3 years ago, Google eBooks delivers a new vision for accessing the world of words. It's incredibly exciting to imagine spreading these words into the farthest corners of the world. Truly awe inspiring, when you think of it….

  9. Neil Sandidge says:

    Who at "" is falsifying "publication" dates for words like "Hebrew" or "Hebraice"?  

    Example this book mentioning Hebrew was printed in 1920., Yet Google listed it as 1520 ????

    Doing "Etymology" research should be easy with Instead an impossibly high number Religious texts are listed with dates that have nothing to do with the publication dates found a few pages inside each book.,cdr:1,cd_min:1500,cd_max:1611&lr=lang_en&gws_rd=ssl

    It appears someone at is willfully pushing altered histories as their service to the public, religious, and government record. This date may be one digit changed, but there are many where the date has nothing to do with the numbers in the first few pages.

  10. Erman Akar says:

    you should update this section and make advertising available. in a nice way that actually interests people into reading more and helping the writers and publisher somehow. Maybe even improve the reading experience a little bit. So we can create apps that has bundles of books for specific topics and advertise on this store. 

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