[Web4lib] Google Print snippets

Isabel Danforth danforth at alumni.tufts.edu
Sun Jul 24 11:09:46 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 

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 subject.

>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

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