Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Google Books

During the summer, I put several weeks into extending on a first draft of my PhD thesis. One of the tasks was to ensure that all the references cited were accurate, down to page numbers for quotes. I have worked on ensuring that all the references I come across are written up on to index cards. Each index card details the bibliographical details along with pertinent page numbers etc. of relevant quotes. An important part of the index cards is information on where I found the journal or book. This is so that if I need to return to the source I will be able to do so. All of the information is eventually transported across to Endnotes which makes citing and referencing much easier.

Well, as usual, I missed a few but then I found Google Books offers limited previews of many of the books I needed to get back to. So I managed to find all the pertinent missed pages by looking them up on Google books. This caused me to explore the capabilities of Google books for further reading. I set up my library over a couple of hours of browsing. Now, most of the books are but a couple of clicks away instead of a trip to the university library on wet weekends. However, nothing beats browsing a shelf of books & being able to serendipitously unearth books that are real gems.

The ability to access such a large number of books is a real asset for all educators and researchers. Even though most of the books are only available as ‘limited preview’ there is enough provided in the books to provide a good sense of the overall content of the book. I have already referred a number of books I found & previewed on to our library’s list of books to obtain. The ability to set up a library also provides educators with the ability to build specific libraries that their students can dip into as well. All of which leads to less trees being felled to provide ‘readings’ to students. The advantage of having all the content online also means that I am able to (if I wanted) access my library on my phone which came in useful over the weekend when discussing evolution with a walking friend. I was able to access my library & show her a copy of Richard Dawkins – The selfish gene while we were up on the Port Hills 300m plus above Christchurch. Layout of the webpage was a bit wonky but I see today that Google books is now configured & available to Adroid & iphone users. Hopefully they are going to set out a Windows Mobile version soon.