[Web4lib] Google Print snippets

Jennifer Heise jahb at Lehigh.EDU
Mon Jul 11 11:15:04 EDT 2005

Yeah, I have. Ok, so I'm a 'Google is not so evil' proponent (years of 
struggling with Lexis Nexis and the various ejournal publisher website 
search engines must have rotted my brain...)

You see, I work in an academic library at the moment, but my hobby 
contacts are with those in the medieval re-enactment community. The 
practical aspects of medieval life are not well covered by any indexes. 
If you are looking for material on my area of interest, medieval herbs, 
you sort through a lot of junk and follow up a lot of citations that 
turn out to be dead ends. I've also worked with academics on the kinds 
of questions (like hormones in hamsters) that are not well suited to 
many of the existing tools. Furthermore, the general public is often 
completely barred from using the existing tools by the same price 
barriers we all know about as librarians.

In that case, full text indexing which provides a snippet of citation, 
like Lexis-Nexis' or ISI's KWIC indexing, could be very helpful to FIND 
materials that could very well be held in a library near you or be 
available for purchase via a used bookseller. In that case, relevance 
ranking is probably a lot more helpful than exhaustive searching, if the 
set is big enough.

So, I guess, having looked up medieval bathing, herbalism, cooking, etc. 
on various of the really good indexes and also on Google and Google 
Scholar, I see Google as a useful additional tool, depending on the 

>I was wondering if anyone has thought about how useful/useless the
>"snippet" might be to users?
>As Google puts it:
>"Library books still in copyright: For books that we have scanned from a
>library which are still in copyright, you will only be able to view the
>bibliographic information and a few short sentences of text around your
>search term."
>Here's an example of what these "snippets" look like:
>Not much info is displayed.

/   Jennifer Heise, Helpdesk/Librarian, Email: jahb at lehigh.edu
\ \ Lehigh Library & Technology Services, Phone: (610) 758-3072
  / Fairchild-Martindale Library, 8A Packer Ave, Bethlehem PA 18015   

"Comment is free, but facts are on expenses." -- Tom Stoppard 

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