Why and how to search for books with ISBN

[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″] ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, provides a unique identifier for books and similar products published anywhere in the world. If a publisher issues a book in both soft cover and hard cover, each will have its own ISBN. So would any large print edition, electronic version, etc. But the publisher does not assign the numbers. ISBN is an international standard, and there are more than 160 ISBN Agencies that have exclusive responsibility to assign ISBNs in a particular country or geographic area. Why does it matter for anyone who is not somehow in the book … Continue reading

Information seeking: the Internet vs bookstores vs the library

[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] Finding information isn’t difficult. We can talk to friends, watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, etc. Not to disparage this easy information (or even the recreational aspects), but it is ephemeral. At some point, everyone needs to find information (or recreation) that’s nailed down, so to speak, in a form that can be consulted. Here’s one librarian’s view of when to look for more or less permanently preserved on the Internet, the bookstore (or for that matter, a record store, etc.), or the library. I’m not making any attempt to be comprehensive here. … Continue reading

WorldCat: a librarians’ tool the public can use

Libraries of any size probably rely on the various services of a company called OCLC. No one else needs to know anything about most of them, but you may have seen a reference librarian look up something for you on WorldCat. That’s a tool you can use as easily as you use your own  library’s catalog. It’s free and available from your home as well as the library. WorldCat aspires to be a universal library catalog. It hasn’t made it yet, but it shows the holdings of about 27,000 different libraries in more than 170 different countries. Even though it … Continue reading

Finding authors, or rather, names in a library catalog

[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″] The most basic information in any record in a library catalog is the title, subject, and author. I have to put author last, because there are several categories of books that, strictly speaking don’t have an author. An anthology has several, compiled by an editor. Other books have a corporate author. That is, one might say on the title page that it’s written by the Red Cross. We all know that a person or group of persons wrote it, but they might not be identified by name anywhere. The author of a book of court cases … Continue reading

Search engine optimization: how library and Internet differ

I have described how searching an online library catalog differs from using a search engine. I have pointed out that libraries have lots of information that is either not available for free on the Internet (most of the best databases) or not at all (most books and periodicals–especially if they are more than 15-20 years old). I have mentioned that library collections must be highly selective, whereas anyone can post something on the Internet. The Internet makes finding information easier than ever. Finding useful, accurate, and reliable information remains as difficult as ever, and one reason is called search engine … Continue reading