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An appropriation-friendly, image-rich, experimental research library. Independent and open to the public.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Access to our digitized books

It shouldn't be so difficult to get to our scanned books, but right now it is. There's full-text search of most of our online titles (and almost two hundred thousand Open Content Alliance titles as well) thru MSN Live Search, but there need to be easier ways to find books.

In the next month or so, we're going to try one way of exposing our books a little more widely, which is to generate annotated bibliographies by subject. We'll do this by bringing the Internet Archive database of our books into FileMaker Pro and then generating HTML with basic metadata about the books sorted by subject. The result will be a page with listings (hopefully annotated) of books in areas like urban planning, history of television, Federal Writers' Project publications, birds, and so on. The page will link to the detail pages at the IA and also offer a direct link to a downloadable PDF.

When our books are publicized, people read them; this BoingBoing post led to almost 5,000 downloads of two books on the 1939 Westinghouse time capsule. On one title, the Book of Record of the Westinghouse Time Capsule, the number of downloads is close to exceeding the number of copies printed, which tends to suggest that scanning obscure texts is a good thing.

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