Tag Archives: library

Looking for a Book Now Means Choosing the Right Medium

What is a book?

I have lately seen publicity for the new movie, Far From the Madding Crowd, based, of course, on the book by Thomas Hardy. I thought it would be fun to read it. I tried several different sources for the book and was amazed at all the options out there.

As this is an old book that is officially outside of copyright, my first step was to go to Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27) I downloaded the epub version, that I then opened with my Nook reader. Strangely, it didn’t have any paragraph breaks, which would make it hard to read! Some of the other versions did have paragraph breaks, though.

Once in Nook, I looked at some of the many versions of the book from different publishers. I chose a twenty page sample of the book from Open Road Publishers, that was available for purchase for $1.99. Not bad! There are many publishers that have lines of economical classic books.

Not wanting to buy a copy, I assumed it would be available in the Mont Alto Campus Library.

The library default search goes, annoyingly, to a general Google search called Lionsearch. If you want a book directly, you need to click The Cat underneath.

Searching for the book I first found a Penguin version of the book through Proquest, but it looks like it’s not the full version. It seemed to have parts of each chapter. (http://gateway.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:pr:Z001592087:0 ) You have to sign in to Penn State to use the link. You can export the reference information in different formats, though.

Finally, I focused the search on an actual book. I did find it in a very old physical copy of the book in the stacks. I checked it out, since it seemed appropriate to read this story in a worn paper version.


And here’s the listing, showing that it is checked out. To me.


I will say that I thoroughly looking through the stacks! It’s great seeing so many real books.

A new kind of library search

A few days ago, for reasons that aren’t relevant here, I was interested in finding a book about the Punic Wars (Carthage against Rome with General Hannibal and elephants in the mountains.) Rather than just look at a list in a card catalog or on Amazon I wanted to see more information about the books so I could choose the most interesting one to read.

I went to the new Google books search site. http://books.google.com/ This is the project where thousands of books have been scanned into a searchable data base. For most books you can look at pages inside the book and even search for words or phrases. There has been controversies over copyright issues. Just recently I learned that Google has settled a lawsuit with one of the main authors’ and publishers’ groups.

I looked through several books to find one that looked interesting. Remember that this is reading for fun, not for any specific project. On the Google site you can link to any of the online book sellers. There is also a “Find this book in a library” link, which entered the book in the WorldCat site http://www.worldcat.org. WorldCat used my location to find which nearby member libraries had the book.

I chose the Penn State Library, saw that the book was available, and requested that it be sent to Mont Alto. I plan to pick it up tomorrow.

This is an incredible development in searching for books in a library. In any search it will make many more books available that I might have missed otherwise. It doesn’t make books obsolete, for now. It does make them easier to locate and acquire.

NY_library_opening.jpg  Photo shows opening day for the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue in New York City. (Source: Flickr Commons project and NYPL Web site, 2008)
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress). May 1911.