While doing research for my classes, I have been using Google Book Search quite a bit – and I’m loving it. Finding and tracking down citations can be challenging especially in an entirely online environment. I’m finding that doing research is a bit different as a distance education student. In a traditional classroom environment, I usually would start with books on a topic and expand my research using the bibliographic citations from the book. In my online classes, I do not have access to the book collection at SCSUs library. My local library does not have an extensive collection of library science material. This has made Google’s Books Search (and Amazon’s search inside the book to a lesser extent) an incredibly valuable tool.
First, I searched for keywords, a person’s name and several combinations of terms. Then, Google provided a listing of books in which the searched terms appear – along with the page the references appear on. In order to view pages, I had to log in to my Google account. Not all pages are viewable. However, within minutes, there was a list of books which might have been pertinent to my research. I was able to get a list of about 35 titles. From there, I was able to get a sense of which ones would be most relevant by searching the text within each title. Even better, I was able to use the table of contents and indexes from listed titles in order to get chapter and article citations. With this information, I then placed interlibrary loan orders for the most relevent texts and articles. The best part was that I was quickly able to tell which books had no relevance to my topic.
While I certainly understand why Google’s Book Search is controversial, it has revolutionized how I am doing my research. From the perspective of a distance education student, I can only hope that Google is able to rapidly expand its scope. My first thought after using this book search feature was “I wish there was more information!!!” I anticipate using Google Book Search frequently in the future.