Thursday, September 06, 2007

google book search features

Google Book Search has introduced a My Library feature, where you can identify volumes in GBS and books that you own and associate them with your Google account. I also ready had an account that I use with blogger and Google Analytics, so there was nothing to set up. I can search and easily click on an "add to my library" link. I can assign a star rating, add a review, and add labels. I don't seem to be able to see a list of labels that I've assigned. I'd like to be able to create individual sets, but there doesn't seem to be a way to do that. The export is a lightweight xml document that's lacking publication data like date, or publisher. You automatically have an RSS feed. It's interesting, but I'm not sure what this gives me over LibraryThing other than URLs for the books in GBS.

The more interesting service is the ability to highlight and quote from a text in GBS. It only works with full view texts -- the tool is not available for any other view. I searched for the term I was interested in and went through 20 screens of results without finding a book that I could try the tool with. I had to resort to an advanced search for titles between 1900 and 1923 to try it. That's an interesting indicator of just how much is in GBS that's post 1923 -- none of the first 200 results in my search were in the domain and full view.

I found a text I wanted to quote and used the tool to draw a box around the text. Drawing the box is a tad tricky -- my first two tries I didn't get the box large enough to get the first line of what I wanted to quote. I was given the option to create an image of the text block or to grab the text. I could add it to my Google Notebook or send it to blogger (because I have an account). You are also presented with a URL that you can use to embed the note in a web page. The quote includes a link to the text in GBS.

This seems really useful to me. In our paradigm at UVA we talk about how it's not enough to digitize something -- you have to be able to use it. This is the first tool I've seen from GBS where it makes its texts into something that you can really take advantage of in a networked environment.

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