30 July 2009

Introducing GooBooGenI [Reference Shelf]

I am happy to announce the launch of GooBooGenI (pronounced Goo Boo Genie), the latest incarnation of the Google Books Genealogy Index I started eons ago on my masthead website, Rainy Day Research.

Now moved to its own domain, and using a MUCH friendlier backend system (Joomla!, for those curious), the index finally has some legs to grow on, and will be much much easier for me to maintain, organize and update. In addition, I've utilized the new embed feature from Google Books to embed titles right in their page, so users can do preliminary searches within books to see if titles are appropriate for their own use.

The site is a work in progress. It needs some beautifying, it needs a mite more content moved over from the original site, and it needs some additional features, but it is already a useable site, so I wanted to let researchers know about it.

Let me give you a tour!

Navigating the Site

The navigation options reside on the left-hand side of the site. You can drill down from general to specific categories from the Main Menu, or you can search on a keyword using the search field.

Note that books for localities outside of the United States will be added in the coming weeks.

Once you have arrived at a location-level page (in this case a state in the U.S.), all titles for that locality have been broken up into distinct categories. Each book resides on its own article page, thus the numbers to the right of each category tell you how many books are listed therein:

Note, too, that a breadcrumb trail appears at the top of the screen, so you can always find your way back to where you were!

Once inside of a state's categories, you will see the books listed by title. The year after each title is the date of publication:

The hit numbers tell you how many times each title has been viewed.

Another item to note is the "Display" option. The default number of titles displayed is 20. You can make this number higher or lower, depending on your preference and your internet connection speed.

You can also use the "Title Filter" to search for keywords within the category you are in. Remember that this only searches for your keyword within the titles of the books as listed on the pages here at GooBooGenI. Here's a shot of the category listing all titles, followed by a Title Filter search:

Title filter searches are run across all titles in a category, even if there are more than 20 titles, and the titles run across multiple pages.

You can also use the site's search field, which is present in the left-hand menu at all times (although sometimes fairly far down). (Note that there is currently a 20-character limit for searches.) Again, remember that this search is only being run on the titles of the books on GooBooGenI, not within the books themselves. The following screenshot shows a search being run, and the subsequent search results page:

Each title relevant to the search is listed, along with the category in which that title resides, and the date it was added to the database.

The Books

As mentioned above, I have taken advantage of the embed feature from Google Books to embed a searchable, browsable version of each book on its own page. Here's a screenshot of a Jones family genealogy:

Each page shows the title of the book, includes a rating option (more on this below), and the embed itself. As noted by the red arrow, the embed has some navigational features (albeit rudimentary ones), which allow you to increase or decrease the zoom, and flip backwards and forwards in the book. For titles on which it is available, a "Contents" button will appear to the left of the search field, which allows you to browse the table of contents for the book.

The real power of the embed, however, lies in its search functionality. Here's a search on the term "Wales" being run on the Jones genealogy we selected above:

Note that the search function tells you how many results were found within the book, allows you to page through the results, and shows the results in context on the page! This should prove a handy tool for genealogists looking for titles worthy of closer inspection.

In the Future

I hope that this brief overview of the new Google Books Genealogy Index proves to you that it has the potential to be alot more useful than its static HTML predecessor:

I am working on adding international titles, as well as updating each category.

I am researching ways in which I can allow submissions of titles not currently found in the index; enabling registered accounts to create personal libraries; adding comment capabilities to each book page to allow for discussions of each books' merits or drawbacks; and the ability for trusted registered users to add books to the index on their own! I'm hoping that in concert with the rating option currently available on each book's page, we will be able to begin some online conversations about the reliability and veracity of different titles.

As you can see, there is a lot to do, and many ways in which GooBooGeni can become even more useful to the genealogy community. If you have any comments at all about the site, good or bad, I would love to hear them. The index is only as useful as it is used, so I want this to be a resource that works for the most people possible. Please leave me a comment or find me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/JenniferJRegan) to let me know what you think.


GrannyPam said...

Thanks for all this hard work. Suggest a link from your blog to the new site (if there is one, I apologize, I just couldn't find one.)


Jennifer said...

Hah! That would help, wouldn't it. My brain, my brain, where did I put that thing.... Thanks GrannyPam! All fixed now.

none said...

Brilliant idea! I have many titles to add to your project. I always feel the need to create my own library everywhere I go, and previously had 900+ books in my Google on-line library. I’ve deleted some in the ongoing (futile) effort to downsize the number of books I might (just might) need, but still have many I could add to your list. Your blog is one of the few that always provides such useful information and education, and I always look forward to reading it. (Plus it doesn’t hurt that some of my ancestors lived in California, so I feel a special kinship with you anyway.) -Lori

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your kind comments Lori. Feel free to email me at jennifer at rainydayresearch dot com, and we can chat about the titles you have to add!

Alexisnexus said...

Nice article and tour! Thanks.


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