More and More Books Galore

The digitization effort continues. And with it comes the problem of serving text (or audio and video) up to users. Two services have come to my attention recently:

Digital Book Index provides links to more than 130,000 title records from more than 1800 commercial and non-commercial publishers, universities, and various private sites. About 90,000 of these books, texts, and documents are available free, while many others are available at very modest cost.

Many Canadian Universities are involved, along with a host of other suppliers of online data. I browsed under the topic of History: Canada: Law, at first getting an error message but after switching to the mirror site, getting a scant score of links to some varied resources. A visit to the topic of law brought up a very mixed bag, mostly American but with a sprinkling of Canadian material there. Though there was a topic head for law: philippine, there wasn’t one for Canada.

This seems to me to be a poorly constructed assemblage, inhaling whatever might be easily available online and offering the user a poor interface with which to search it. Needs more work.

The second effort is the refurbished home page of the British Library. As they say on the “about” page:

We were aware that some users had been finding it difficult to find the British Library web content that best met their needs. Using the new search box means that users can see results from our four most important web resources together on the same page.

One query will now search:

  • 10,000 web pages on our collections and services
  • 13 million catalogue records (Integrated Catalogue)
  • 90,000 pictures and sounds from our Collect Britain website
  • 9 million articles from 20,000 top journals (British Library Direct)

There’s a great Canadian collection:

The British Library holds one of the finest collections of Canadiana outside Canada. These pages offer an introduction to the Canadian collections, and provide an overview of their development from the eigteenth century to the present day. The Canadian collections are extensive across all formats, including monographs, serials, newspapers, manuscripts, sound recordings, official publications, ephemera, and philatelic materials.

The site is a pleasure to use, though it still needs some work. For example, there isn’t a link I could find from the home page of the main site to the Collect Britain subsite, where all the sound and video recordings are made available.

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