Google offers books

As students gear up for class, they might want to know about their electronic options.

Students across the country have chosen to utilize online databases of texts, including Google Book Search. In November 2005 Google’s ever-growing database of books went live for anyone with an Internet connection to search the content of millions of books. Some full-text versions of books are available through Google Book Search but the text of those that aren’t is still completely searchable online.

Full-text versions of books are also available for GW students through E-brary, an online database that allows users to download, read and print books via their computer with the help of supplied software. GW students have been able to access E-brary since last summer.

E-brary is different from Google because the company charges for access to the books to cover copyright costs.

Debbie Bezanson, Electronic Resources Librarian at GW said, “Through E-brary there are books presented that publishers have made available. In general the entire text is available because we are paying hosting fees for full access.”

Copyright issues have been a major concern for online resources.

Despite the legal concerns, five pilot libraries – the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Oxford in England and the New York Public Library – have granted Google access to collections for scanning. University of California also signed on to the project this month.

Gale Etschmaier, Associate University Librarian for Public Services at Gelman Library said that Google’s method of scanning entire books and access to millions of texts makes it easier for students and faculty to conduct research.

“We certainly recognize that our online catalog is imperfect and can make it difficult for students to get to print material. Google Book Search could become a great place to lead students to text they would have otherwise not have found,” Etschmaier said.

Students acknowledge that using the comprehensive text search provided by Google can cut down on research time and effort.

“I spend a lot of time conducting research online by going to many different Web sites in order to gather the necessary information for a paper,” junior Mike Weil said. “If all the information for a research project was consolidated onto one site, I think that would make research significantly easier.”

Kelly Cunningham, university spokesperson for Michigan said that the expansion of their scanned books from offsite, non-copyrighted books to all public items received tremendous support from the university.

Richard Mereand, library manager for special collections at Gelman, said that the idea of digitizing the content of entire library collections is not a new concept.

“Everyone has thought about it and most libraries have ideas for projects but it becomes a matter of resources.”

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