Philosophy books on Google Book Search

With the help of our excellent student workers in the Reference and Instructional Services Department, I carried out a small study of Google Book Search (GBS). Curious to know just how deep it was with regards to philosophy, I took a random sample of 381 titles out of the 4244 philosophy titles Temple bought between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2005. It turns out that 35% of the philosophy books sampled are contained in GBS, including the following percentages from a number of top academic publishers:

  • 39% of Oxford (21/54)
  • 66% of Routledge (25/38)
  • 70% of Blackwell (7/10)
  • 76% of SUNY (13/17)
  • 88% of Cambridge (28/32)

None of the books in my sample from Harvard (5), Cornell (8), MIT(5), Princeton (3), Stanford (3), or Yale (4) university presses were found, although books from all these publishers do show up in GBS (the Advanced Search allows a publisher search). Sample books from the large European academic presses Ashgate (9), Brill (3), Continuum (5), and Palgrave MacMillan (7) also did not turn up. With the exception of Brill, this latter group does not appear to be participating in GBS. According to Google, books make it into GBS through two different routes, as part of the Partner Program or the Library Project. With the Partner Program, publishers (or authors) provide GBS with the full-text of books. Presumably, most are using this service as a means of marketing their books. By contrast, for the Library Project GBS scans in books from a number of major research libraries like those at Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Oxford, and the New York Public Library. Depending on the copyright status of a book and on the agreements between publishers and Google, there are four different views of books that users see–the Snippet View, Sample Pages View, and Full View, and No Preview Available (which I ran into a number of times but for which Google gives no explanation).

  • The Snippet View shows your keyword(s) in a few sentences of context. Books showing this view come from the Library Project and are still under copyright.
  • All the books in my sample presented the Sample Pages View. These books come from either the Partner Program or the Library Project. On the search results screen, books showing the Sample Pages View will contain the label Limited Preview. In either case, the publisher has given permission to display only a certain portion of the work. Many of the pages in this view will either require a login (free to set up), or will be inaccessible. For instance, when I searched inside the book Redeeming Nietzsche: On the Piety of Unbelief for “wagner”, six pages required login and six were inaccessible. (Of course, you are only asked to log in once per session.)
  • Full View books are entirely accessible. And whereas you can’t print pages out from the Snippet View or the Sample Pages View, you can print out pages from Full View books. You can also limit your search to just Full View books. These works either come from the Library Project and are in the public domain, or the author or publisher has given permission to view an entire copyrighted work.
  • No Preview Available books look a lot like the Snippet View except without the snippet. These probably come in as part of the Library Project and, appropriately, look a bit like library catalog records.

It is important to remember that despite which view you’re given, your search is querying the full-text of these books, not just the the book record as you would with, say, a library catalog. It’s also important to remember that Google intends this as a search service that will allow users to identify books that they will eventually borrow from libraries or buy in bookstores. It’s not meant as a provider of electronic books. Clearly, there are enough philosophy books in Google Book Search to make it a useful tool of discovery. Among its many uses are citation searching, identifying an obscure person, place, thing, or event, or just plain old full-text searching. Next time you’re doing philosophy research (or any other kind of research), try it out. BTW, Temple has quite a few subscription databases of full-text searchable books that might be of interest to the student of philosophy, some of which are listed below:

Two New Online Resources

In the First Person (or FIRP) indexes “first-person” or primary source material in selected Alexander Street Press databases including Early Encounters in North America, Oral History Online, and Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000.

Because FIRP indexes letters, diaries, and autobiographies as well as oral historieis, it will contain many more records than are available in the Oral History Online database. FIRP can be used to find primary source material on the free web as well, and is itself a free resource. Royal Society of Chemistry Archives contains all articles published by the RSC (and its forerunner societies) from 1841 to 2004. This comes to approximately 238,000 articles in 1,400,000 pages.

Grokker Brings Information Visualization to the Masses

Information visualization is an effective means of communicating information on large quantities of data. It allows the user to quickly identify patterns and relationships that might otherwise remain buried in long stretches of sequential alphanumeric data. The financial services industry uses this method to make sense of reams of data on companies and markets. Information scientists also use this method to make sense of citation patterns among scholars. Take a look atthis document posted on Drexel University’s web site. It shows multiple visuals of “co-citation networks”.

Now a company named Groxis has brought its information visualization software,Grokker, to the free web through an agreement reached with Yahoo. There’s also a more advanced version for a fee. Grokker provides “A New Way to Look at Search”. The principle behind Grokker is that the sequential lists of web sites that search engines provide are ineffective for complicated, multi-faceted searches because relevant web sites are often buried on the 9th, 23rd, or 64th page of results and few have the time or patience to scroll away the day. Instead, Grokker provides a visual “lay of the land”, an overview in pictures that helps you to understand the different angles of your topic. Once you get an initial results screen, you can drill down on the areas that you’re most interested in. It functions a bit like a table of contents in a book.

So take a look and play around with Grokker. This product will probably be followed by many more like it because information visualization has the potential for making web searching more intelligible and efficient.

Wikis and the Classroom

An interesting article in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education (51.45 (15 July 2005): A35) (the online version may require a password, inquire from one of us and we can give it to you) about using wikis in the classroom. It focuses on professor Mark Phillipson’s use of a class wiki to get his students writing about Romantic poetry. The article briefly discusses the uses and benefits of a wiki for annotation, discussion, writing, and class participation. If you don’t know what a wiki is (and that article doesn’t explain it well enough for you) check out this article from the most famous wiki, the Wikipedia. Wikipedia has garnered a lot of media attention (especially from librarians) because it is a publicly editable (anyone can edit it) online encyclopedia. Like any other reference source it has its pluses and minuses, but many fear that the lack of traditional peer-review negates its utility as a reference for information. –Derik A Badman

New NIH Database Stirs Controversy

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) plays an important role in fostering biomedical research and providing publicly accessible databases like PubMed, PubMed Central, and the genetic resources of NCBI. It funds research in-house as well as in the academic and private sectors. All in all, it plays a vital role in encouraging basic biomedical research. Recently, NIH has come into conflict with The American Chemical Society (ACS), the largest professional chemical society in the US and a vendor of important subscription-based information products, over a new NIH database called PubChem. In 2002 NIH created a framework known as the NIH Roadmap in order to optimize biomedical research. PubChem is the chemical informatics component, containing information on small molecules that may be used in areas such as drug discovery and the study of gene function. ACS is concerned that PubMed replicates and therefore unfairly competes with its own CAS Registry, a database that provides curated substance identification of small molecules. They have asked the NIH to avoid any significant duplication of the CAS Registry. ACS has also asked Congressional supporters to put pressure on the NIH, but the House Appropriations Committee has approved NIH’s annual budget and asked both parties to work together to settle the dispute. For more information, see The American Chemical Society and NIH’s PubChem from the University of California, Office of Scholarly Communication. –Kathy Szigeti

Podcasting and Libraries

Podcasting is a variation on RSS (Real Simple Syndication) wherein the RSS feeds contain automatically downloadable sound files. What are the chances it will take off in the library world? In a word: Good. Before next summer, dozens of libraries, large and small, academic and public, will likely offer their own podcasts.

Although the technology (and term) is only a few months old, podcasting is beginning to create a buzz in the online world. Unlike the content offered through commercial subscription services such as Audible, podcasting allows any organization to seamlessly “push” audio content to anyone interested in listening, including library patrons. Podcasting has been described as Tivo for web-based radio. Plug an iPod or other MP3 player into a computer running free software available from iPodder or iPodderX. If you’re online and have subscribed to a podcast feed (just like an RSS feed) through one of those applications, audio content will be downloaded to your MP3 player automatically. Unplug the iPod from the computer and have a listen. Imagine listening to the latest NPR programming or independent radio on your commute to work, or better yet the latest digest from the Libraries’ blog. The potential uses are endless.

For a directory on podcasts, see or Podcast Alley.

–David Murray

Last chance! Computing Reviews trial ends April 27th

The Library is currently conducting a trial of a new online service — Computing Reviews. Using any computer on campus, you can link to the trial via ourComputer and Information Science subject guide page or via the Reviews.comweb site. Send your comments to Kathy Szigeti, Science Librarian, or call her at 1-4725. The trial period will end on April 27, 2005.

Computing Reviews (CR) is the authoritative publication of reviews in computing literature. With new reviews published each day, CR reflects the rapid evolution across all areas of computer science. Through its community of over 1,000 reviewers, CR provides its readers with the timely commentary and overview needed in identifying the most essential books and articles.

It allows readers to explore topics both broadly and in great detail. On the home page, reviews are divided into two sections, Articles and Books, with the most current reviews at the top. Here, readers can browse the beginning of reviews. CR’s powerful navigational tools enable users to find the information most relevant to their work and research. Readers can follow their interests by creating customized searches and use personalized alerts to receive notice of the latest developments.

The database is a collaboration between and the ACM. Since the first online version of Computing Reviews went live in 2001, the coverage has expanded dramatically and the number of books and articles reviewed has more than tripled.

Cultural hegemony and American Television

Marnie Carroll’s “American Television in Europe: Problematizing the Notion of Pop Cultural Hegemony” (Bad Subjects 57, Oct 2001) highlights the difficulty of transnational acceptance of icons and particularly those of American Television. Carroll questions the “cultural critics’ assumption that exported American culture is unquestioningly assimilated by non-American cultures around the world.” Carroll takes on the commonly held idea of how influential American television is to other parts of the world. Composition 50 classes have recently been focusing on analytical studies on various aspects of American culture, particularly mass media, and Carroll’s article presents one part of this changing social landscape: American television and its international influences. Her article provides an excellent example for students of the kind of analytical thinking and argument they should show in their papers.