Saturday, November 22, 2008

Building a Genealogy and History Library

Like many genealogy and family history researchers, I have a vast collection of photocopies of pages taken from many, many books over the years - they concern one or more of my ancestral families. The pages reside in about 30 linear feet of book shelves, mostly in notebooks filed by surname. However, I own only a few of these books. Of course, they are at some library somewhere, but they are not always close at hand just in case I want to read more about a family or locality.

A good example is the post Sign of the Cross at Mount Hope on the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit blog (how's that for a shameless plug of my new blog?). I have this picture of the monument for Graham E. Babcock buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego - I wondered what he did that deserved this monument that must have cost a fortune in 1908.

So I Googled him - and one of the entries was the book:

City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, By Clarence Alan McGrew, American Historical Society, American Historical Society, incorporated, New York, Published by American Historical Society, 1922, Volume 2 (Original from Harvard University, Digitized Jan 31, 2008)

So now I knew that Graham Babcock was the son of one of San Diego's illustrious businessmen, Elisha S. Babcock, who must have paid for his son's monument.

I downloaded the San Diego history book (it was Volume 2 - 21 mb) last night, and today I downloaded Volume 1 of the book also (11 mb). Volume 1 was digitized by Google in September 2006, and Volume 2 in January 2008.

Now I have it on my desktop computer and can access it for either reference or pleasure reading when I want to. I don't have to search for a repository and make a trip there to read it and copy the pages from it. I save time, money and a stack of paper by having a digital copy of the book or article.

You know, I just couldn't resist downloading several more old history books about San Diego. However, I fear that the hard drive space on my desktop will be quickly used up as I search for books concerning all of my localities. Oh well - maybe Santa will bring me a larger hard drive, or maybe a new computer sometime soon (hint hint, kids).

Have you checked Google Books recently for those out-of-copyright books - the family histories, the locality histories, etc. - that have your family in them?

Google claims to have digitized over 7 million books - and has come to an agreement with plaintiffs in a lawsuit concerning access to these books. There are three categories:

1) In-copyright and in-print books -- In-print books are books that publishers are still actively selling, the ones you see at most bookstores. This agreement expands the online marketplace for in-print books by letting authors and publishers turn on the "preview" and "purchase" models that make their titles more easily available through Book Search.

2) In-copyright but out-of-print books -- Out-of-print books aren’t actively being published or sold, so the only way to procure one is to track it down in a library or used bookstore. When this agreement is approved, every out-of-print book that we digitize will become available online for preview and purchase, unless its author or publisher chooses to "turn off" that title. We believe it will be a tremendous boon to the publishing industry to enable authors and publishers to earn money from volumes they might have thought were gone forever from the marketplace.

3) Out-of-copyright books -- This agreement doesn't affect how we display out-of-copyright books; we will continue to allow Book Search users to read, download and print these titles, just as we do today.

This is really good news for all genealogy and family history researchers. You can download and read the out-of-copyright books, and you can purchase the in-copyright books online, or search for it in a library or book store.


Anonymous said...

I've downloaded several Google PDFs myself and found them very useful. I do save all these useful publications in my Google Books "My Library" so I can access them whenever I need them without having to load down my hard dri

Brenda said...

People need to stop being intimidated by new things on the internet. They don't know what they are missing by just 'playing around'. Google books is GRRreat! just like Tony The Tiger!!!! Glad to see someone recommending this feature. I have it on my blog too ;)

Thanks Randy