All 7 entries tagged Google

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August 14, 2007

getting more from your google search

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A very handy guide to the advanced operators when searching Google!

July 31, 2007

Every book ever published in every language

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The BBC article raises some interesting issues about the Open Library project, contrasting it with Google’s own library project and the way information about books on the web often links back to Amazon.

It will be interesting to see if the concept of the Open Library takes off. I think there are dangers of malicious editing & spam as with any collaborative project, and there is a possibility that the owners of Open Library will try to make profit from it in some way in the future. But then if they invested in the database design as the article describes, and they are having to police it and protect it, then maybe they deserve some of the profit. Which leads me back to the question of why we don’t just use Google’s project or Amazon anyway?

I think it would be far better to allow people to edit library catalogues that already exist, to contribute their own reviews and tags on top of the professionally created information, but not in place of it.

Library catalogues already adhere to an international standard of machine readable bibliographic data (known as MARC) and are therefore theoretically cross-searchable. All you would need to achieve the aim of collating all the books ever published is a cross-searching platform, and a selection of libraries wide enough to cover every book ever published… and an eternity to wait for the results of your search :-) or else a metadata harvesting tool with access to the library catalogue records (via the OAI protocol) and a super-huge database to store all the records in, on a super-fast machine to return results to you quickly.

Not that I would want to search the records of every book every published in every language anyway. Imagine the time it would take you to find what you were actually looking for. Imagine how overwhelmed you would feel once you got the results set. Only someone with a very precise query and the advanced information skills to express it accurately would be able to handle such a search with any degree of accuracy.

It’s not ever likely to be necessary for someone to search every book ever published, surely? That is why we have small branch libraries and subject libraries, etc and ways of selecting what goes into a library in the first place. The library acts as a filter for you, and its content reflects the interests and needs of its patrons… which is why I like the idea of putting users’ reviews and tags onto library records.

Wouldn’t you rather read a review from someone who has studied on the same course as you, than from a random person on the Amazon website or Open Library?

If you weren’t finding what you needed from one library, you could then look for another library with a different specialty or focus. So a search for a library, perhaps based on the libraries’ own collections descriptions (Libraries have standards for those, too) would be a good place for you to identify which catalogues you could/should be searching (whether separately or through a cross-searching platform). What you would need alongside that is access to those other specialist libraries and their content. Which is when reciprocal visiting/loan arrangements and digitisation initiatives become interesting.

If Open Library or Google were ever to succeed with creating a collection of every book ever published in every language, who would use it and how? In order to simplify the search process, and in order for people to handle the number of results returned, someone somewhere is making decisions for you about what you should find… and in Google’s case not being very open about how they do it. Wouldn’t you rather that that someone was your friendly librarian who you can speak to, who can explain how they chose a particular book or collection, than someone you’ve never heard of doing techie things with algorithms that you don’t understand?

February 22, 2007

Google Scholar has serious failings

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The presentation that I’m linking to was delivered at last year’s UK Serials Group conference here at Warwick. I didn’t attend as I was seconded to the Careers Service at the time, but I have heard about it from a colleague who did attend. I’ve tried a couple of the examples out on Google Scholar today and there are still inconsistencies. However, it is in Beta, so Google have a good excuse for the performance of Google Scholar.

The performance itself is not a concern. It is the emerging acceptance and reliance upon it by the academic community that is a concern, given the lack of rigorousness or openness about how Google Scholar works.

February 20, 2007

How good is Google Scholar?

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See the linked journal article describing how Google Scholar has been tested to see whether it can find accessible copies of key ecology journal articles. Interesting conclusion that libraries should decide how to support the use of Google Scholar, rather than focussing on getting library users to use subscription services.

February 07, 2007

Web users shaping our search engines?

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An interesting news item that the founder of Wikipedia would like to create an alternative search engine. I like the comment:
“The way that things are sorted and ranked and presented to us, really does shape our view of the world.”

I’m not sure whether there is space for a new search engine, even if it is one with open information about how it works. It would have to be pretty comprehensive, whizzy and different to entice people away from Google, but I shall watch the space with interest.

There is, of course, already a directory site that you can contribute to if you’re interested in a user-led way of searching that you can (theoretically) contibute to and thus help to shape our view of the world:
and of course Google uses this Open Directory too.

Their site makes it sound easy to become an editor, but how easy is it really?
Then again according to the BBC article, Wikipedia have had to restrict in some way who can contribute what to their site, too, so perhaps it isn’t as easy as it once was to contribute to Wikipedia.

February 05, 2007

Make Google Scholar search Warwick's collection: print & online!

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Thanks to those who commented on my last blog posting. You suggested that we make Google Scholar work with us… here’s how you can do that…

Below are some instructions as e-mailed to me by our electronic resources librarian. I think it has great potential, but I find it a little frustrating that once set up, when I do a search on Google Scholar there are precious few “Get This in Print” links in the results, and often they come up with no results either!

However, it is much better than nothing as a way of reaching the resources that the library has bought on behalf of its staff and students. Also, I find the “Library Search” link comes up quite often and that is good at linking through to our catalogue.

Go to Google Scholar ( )
Click on “Scholar Preferences”
in “Library Links” box, type Warwick & click “Find Library”.
Tick the box against “University of Warwick Library (Warwick access)“
Save Preferences

Go & do a Google Scholar search  
Where ” Get This in Print at ” appears it means you can pass the link into WebBridge.
What’s the advantage ?
1.The WebBridge link lets you to authenticate with your Barcode & Pin. If you just click on the Google direct link, off campus users will find themselves locked out from fulltext
2. WebBridge will check the Google record against our holdings & only offer the link if we have access.
3. WebBridge (if it gets sufficient data) will offer to look the reference up in our web catalogue so can display print copies. 
Google only trawls our files once a week to pick up changes.

February 02, 2007

Other libraries & Google

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Interesting to see what my former colleagues at the University of Northampton are blogging about.

The latest posting is about an issue that is affecting all info. professionals in HE settings. The prevelance of Google and the reliance on it amongst our students is something that we try to battle with our information skills tutorials.

I think that the problem is that Google does do such a good job. It’s great for finding out stuff. It answers most of your every day needs in the time it takes for you to blink. It can even find specialist academic material, if you know how to use it properly (and especially if you use Google Scholar).

But it can’t be healthy for us all to use Google for everything. There’s so much of the web that Google doesn’t index. And if you know that you want academic quality material, surely the best place to search is an academic journals database. You can be sure that Google doesn’t index all academic journals and although Google Scholar does index some, it’s coverage is patchy and its results will include material for which you will have to pay to have access. Whereas if you search the library’s collections (Look for your subject page on our website) you will get access to loads of academic journals for free.

How can we get this message accross?

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