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About Google Books

User Stories
Take a look at the Google Books users who have shared their stories of how they searched and discovered a range of topics from roller skating bears to flesh-eating bacteria. Found something interesting or special on Google Books? Tell us your story!


Google Books Users Speak

For some of these books, digitization by Google represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture and share the information they contain."

How she uses Google Books
As an academic librarian specializing in preservation, Holly Robertson works hard to make sure faculty and students have access to the information they need -- even books that are out of circulation because they're too brittle or damaged or in the process of being repaired.

"My goal is to get people what they need as quickly as possible," says Robertson, who heads Preservation Services at the University of Virginia. "If someone asks for an old book that's being conserved, or in too poor a condition to be circulated, the first thing I think is, 'Is it on Google Books?' In many cases, I'm able to send them a link to the book. Patrons are very happy to have the online Google book while they wait for the Library's copy to be repaired."

What she found
Since she works in preservation, Robertson has a special appreciation for being able to find old, rare books. "I've seen plenty of books that are basically destroyed -- with pages and the covers missing -- and I can go online to see another library's copy that's completely intact," she says. "For some of these books, digitization by Google represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture and share the information they contain. There's so much information in libraries that people can't easily find. It's groundbreaking that Google is bringing search and accessibility to these books."

'My Library' lets me find specific quotes and passages in the books I discover, without having to laboriously comb through each book."

How he uses Google Books
As a graduate student at Loyolla University in Chicago, Illinois, Nathan Maas is always on the lookout for useful online resources. "I've always been an avid Internet user," he explains. "Right now I'm working towards my Master's degree in Social Justice. I'm often looking for books on economics, fair trade, and human rights. My goal is to find resources that help me be more comprehensive and accurate."

What he found
"I've found all kinds of books I might never have known existed," says Maas, who sees Google Books as a complement to the online databases for scholarly journals.

In addition to helping him track down trustworthy academic sources, Google Books enables Maas to search within these materials to identify the specific information he needs. Using the 'My Library' feature, he can build his own online collection of books, and then search only within the collection, saving the time he would have spent narrowing search results from a broader query.

"When I find a book I want to use in a paper, I add it to 'My Library,'" explains Maas. "'My Library' lets me find specific quotes and passages in the books I discover, without having to laboriously comb through each book."

Once I started looking at Google Books with development education in mind, it opened up a whole new world.”

How he uses Google Books
William Hatcher has a calling. "I work for a nonprofit called Servants in Faith and Technology, a Christian organization in Alabama that provides training in self-help for people in need," Hatcher explains. "Part of my job is teaching community leaders from developing countries essential skills, like how to provide clean water, maintain sanitation systems, and administer basic health services."

One of the key challenges, says Hatcher, is finding ways to help his trainees access and share this vital information once they return home. "So I started gathering materials from the Internet to create online libraries for people who can get access to the Internet, and I'm exploring other opportunities for those who can't."

Hatcher's primary resource for finding these materials is Google Books, and he actively uses the My Library feature to organize and share all the relevant books he's found.

What he found
Since Google scans the full text of books, Hatcher is abe to find useful information in books he might otherwise have passed over. "Who would have thought you could learn how the Chinese incubate eggs in the US Agricultural Report of 1901," he says.

Hatcher envisions a future where access to these kinds of resources is even easier. "I look forward to the time when you'll be able to put a whole library in your pocket," he says. "Of course, when you're trying to turn the world upside down, not everything is going to come into neat little boxes. Google Books is as close as it gets.”

I use Google Books to look up wildly different topics...I’ll go in, search for whatever’s been on my mind, and see what’s out there.”

How he uses Google Books
Put online publishing tools in the hands of someone with a curious mind and you’ll end up with a blog like emonome.com, written by Emon Hassan, an independent theatre producer and history buff from New York City

The common thread linking Hassan’s posts is his passion for esoteric information, which he says makes Google Books an ideal research tool for his blog. “I use Google Books to look up wildly different topics,” he says. “It just depends on how I feel that day. I’ll go in, search for whatever’s been on my mind, and see what’s out there. At that point, it’s all about finding the books tangential to the topic. That’s where I find the most interesting stuff.”

What he found
Hassan has stumbled on a vast array of books, including a book exploring Egyptian music, and not one, but two screenwriting guides guides from the 1920s. As someone who appreciates historical context, Hassan likes paging through rare books, which he often writes about on his blog. “It’s fascinating to get that perspective, especially if I’m researching something technical like cinematography,” he says.

The Google Books index contains rare public domain books scanned from collections at more than 28 outstanding libraries. “I can’t just walk across the street and check out Harvard’s library. Now I have access to their collection," says Hassan. “I found a rare book that had a commemorative plate from 1785, when it was apparently given to the library. I love the personal touches you can find in early editions of books like that, with scribblings in the margins.”

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