Universities Add Their Own Search of Google Books

Colleges working with Google on the company’s effort to scan millions of library books today unveiled their own search tool to comb the full text of some 500,000 volumes.

The tool has a few features that Google lacks, said John P. Wilkin, an associate university librarian for the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He is leading the group formed by the colleges, which is called HathiTrust Digital Library. The killer app: HathiTrust’s search lists every page that contains a user’s search term, while Google’s might return a partial list, said Mr. Wilkin. “That’s a small amenity, but I think you’ll see us continue to devote energy to that sort of tool,” he added.

                          screen shot of HathiTrust

Last year we mentioned that HathiTrust had released a campus-by-campus search of the books they had digitized in collaboration with Google. They had not yet figured out how to allow searching across those collections, though. They spent the last year working out the kinks, and now the global search tool is up and running. The feature is in beta, meaning that it is still a work in progress.

What’s next? A draft press release about today’s new feature said the digital library would soon include an advanced search, a “more like this” option, and “tools that can be used in computational research.”

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