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.

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