05 January 2009

Getting Into Google Books I [Lessons]

I know that even if you haven't been using Google Books with regularity up until now, you've made it your New Year's Resolution to be better about it. I know this, not because of my Carnac-like pyschic skills, but because I know you know how useful Google Books is for every researcher.

If you haven't delved into Google Books, this lesson should be enough to get you into the mix. In it, we'll initiate your library, then quickly learn how to add and organize the books you find of use in Google Books.

In the next post, coming this Friday (January 9th), I'll discuss using the iGoogle Google Books Gadget and what it can do for you. First things first... let's build our library!

Setting up Your Library

In order to get started, you'll need to obtain a Google ID and log in to your account. To get started, go to Google Books.

The first thing we'll need to do is add some books to your library to get you started. [If you already have books added to your library, you can skip this section and move on to the next one below.] We'll add two books of general interest for the purposes of completing this lesson.

Run the following search: "Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry". You should see the following at the top of your results:

Add these two books to your library using the "Add to my library" links as shown above. When you click on the first link, you'll see a box with information about the privacy settings on your library, and you'll be prompted to enter a nickname. Click "Save", then "Add" to the following prompt to save the book to your library. You will not have to repeat this process with any other books you add to your library.

After adding the second book to your library, click on the "My Library" link in the upper-right hand corner navigation to go to your library homepage.

Organizing Your Library

On your "My Library" page, you'll see the books you've added to your library. The page isn't pretty, and, to be honest, still isn't as functional as it could be, but with the recent addition of the labeling feature we are about to use, it has become EXPONENTIALLY better in terms of usability.

Here's my current example library:

What we're most interested in is the "Add labels" link beneath the books you have added to your library. Using this link, we can begin labeling and organizing the books in our libraries to make them easier to browse and use.

You can use whatever system you feel most comfortable with, and whatever system you feel will allow you to find what you're looking for in the most efficient manner. In my personal library, I've chosen to use state, county, and city names for many books. For more general books, I label them with terms such as "memoirs", "railroads" "guides" and "directories", along with a geographic term that narrows down their areas of concern.

Here's a shot of my example library with my labels in place:

Notice that the labels we've added are visible in green underneath each book, and that they are listed in alphabetical order along the left side of the page. The labels in this left-hand section serve as a keyword navigation for your library; clicking on a certain label (such as "journals") will bring up all books you have labeled with that term. Parenthetical numbers show how many books have had each label applied to them.

Get Busy

That's the very easy basics on building your Google Books library. For Friday, go ahead and spend some time on the Google Books site and add to your library books that you feel would be of use to you in your research. If you need some ideas, you can use the Google Books Index on my website, which lists full-view books of genealogical interest.

In Friday's post, we'll talk about maximizing the use of your library via the Google Books Gadget on your iGoogle page.

1 comment:

Kathryn Doyle said...

More great stuff, as usual, Jenn!