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1 Finding bibliographic information about books on the WWW: an evaluation of available sources Maike Somers Librarian, Public Library, Niel Paul Nieuwenhuysen.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Finding bibliographic information about books on the WWW: an evaluation of available sources Maike Somers Librarian, Public Library, Niel Paul Nieuwenhuysen."— Presentation transcript:

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2 1 Finding bibliographic information about books on the WWW: an evaluation of available sources Maike Somers Librarian, Public Library, Niel Paul Nieuwenhuysen Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Universiteit Antwerpen Belgium Presented at Internet Librarian International 2003 in Birmingham, England, March 2003

3 2 Summary / Abstract The World Wide Web offers various tools to retrieve information about published books, in the form of online catalogues of libraries, popular online bookstores, and subscription-based bibliographic databases. We have determined the usefulness / performance of bibliographic information offered by such systems. For the quantitative evaluation, random tests with titles of known books were executed. Furthermore, the quality of the resulting output was evaluated. This investigation has led to recommendations and conclusions concerning the value of these online databases as sources of information about books.

4 3 Definition of the problem - Aims of this research How well perform various sources of bibliographic information about books that are available on the Internet? 19 different book databases were examined. Two points of view were taken into consideration: »viewpoint of a librarian »viewpoint of a non-professional Two major research methods: »quantitative aspects »qualitative aspects

5 4 Investigated sources of bibliographic information about books Three types of providers of bibliographic information about books were selected: »Subscription-based providers: Global Books in Print »Online library catalogues: the national libraries of Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States »Online bookshops: Proxis, Bol, Alapage, VLB, iBS, Blackwell, Amazon, Barnes&Noble Furthermore following services were included in this study: »Antiquarian, used or rare books: Abebooks, ABAA »Shopbots: BookFinder, DealTime »Parallel searching over numerous catalogues: Infoball

6 5 Quantitative evaluation of the selected book databases What is available in the various databases? How good is the coverage of the database? The databases were searched for miscellaneous titles. Important was that »the book titles covered a diversity of subjects, and »the books were written by various authors.

7 6 Criteria for the quantitative evaluation of book databases Languages We searched for books in English, Dutch, French and German. Historical range We searched for books published before the 20th century, between 1900 and 1950, between 1951 and 2000, and books published in Conference proceedings We searched for conference proceedings as an example of more hard to find books.

8 7 Qualitative evaluation of the search results, the output What do these various databases offer? The quality of the resulting output was evaluated on the basis of a set of evaluation criteria.

9 8 Criteria for the qualitative evaluation of the book databases Search features: Are subject terms added? Are related subject terms suggested? Can the user browse in subject categories? Is combined field searching possible?... Search results: Can the results be ordered? Are search results classified in categories? Can the user download the results, well structured with field tags?... Services: Does the system provide a current awareness service? Are reviews by readers added? Are other related titles suggested? Is price information included?...

10 9 Conclusions concerning the catalogues of the national libraries National libraries are first of all an outstanding source for the local publications. The national libraries are the most reliable source for bibliographic searching and verification.

11 10 Conclusions concerning the databases of the online bookstores The enriched descriptions offered by online bookstores can provide additional information. The added price information can be useful for the acquisition and accounting department of a library or if an individual user wants to buy a book. Some provide a current awareness service, free of charge.

12 11 Conclusions concerning the subscription-based book databases If access to the internet is well available, it is hard to justify paying for bibliographic information provided by a subscription-based database like Global Books in Print. The cd-rom version can still be useful if permanent or easy access to the Internet is not available. The information provided about prices can be useful if a library or an individual user wants to buy a book.

13 12 Conclusions concerning the catalogues of the big famous libraries For instance: Library of Congress (USA) Their coverage is good. They offer the best subject descriptions. Access is free of charge. So they form excellent sources to find books about a particular subject/topic.

14 13 Recommendations concerning the retrieval of bibliographic information The evaluation served to formulate some recommendations concerning bibliographic searching and verification. Which database is recommended depends on the aim of the bibliographic search. The following overview is not exhaustive and simplifies reality of course.

15 14 Recommended book databases AIMRECOMMENDED SYSTEMS Book title search in general Library of Congress, British Library, Infoball To search for book titles published before 1990 National libraries, Barnes&Noble, Infoball, Alapage, Abebooks To find book titles about a specific subject / topic Library of Congress, British Library, (Amazon) To find the price of a book Global Books in Print, Infoball, online bookshops To be informed regularly about new books Amazon, Alapage, Bol

16 15 General conclusion concerning book databases The one and only, international, complete, ideal, bibliographic database does NOT exist, but the united forces of the different available book databases should be satisfying.


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