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Estimates and observations about govdocs in Google Books

Julia Tryon, Government Documents Librarian of the Phillips Memorial Library at Providence College posted some interesting information about the intersection of Federal Publications and Google Books to govdoc-l this week. She is quoted here with permisssion:


My director has asked me to discover what I may about the amount of documents available in Google's digital projects.  I've been looking at Google, partners' websites, articles, blogs, etc.  I have found a lot of chit-chat but very little substantive information.  Maybe I am just not looking for it the right way or in the right places.

It seems that there is a blackout on reporting statistics for these projects. Google and most of the partners give no statistical data at all. Stanford did have a page with statistics that was buried on their project's website but the information had not been updated since 2004.

To figure out the statistics on my own, I have tried searching Google Books, Stanford, and University of Michigan; but there is no way to limit a search to government documents. On Google I was able to search by publisher and, using various abbreviations for GPO that are used in
the publisher field, I came up with 187,522 (GPO-141,600; Gov't-2322; Government Printing Office-43,600). The university catalogs did not allow me to search by publisher.

When looking at the search results in Google for publisher field has GPO, I found 141,600 items, only 82,487 of which were available in the full view. And although it is nice to think that we have the full text for 82,487 documents, not all of them can be used. I randomly picked a title to see how it looked and chose the Statistical Abstract for 1954. The pages were clear enough to read easily but on every even numbered page part of the right hand column was chopped off.



Have you done your own study/poking around/etc with Google Books and Federal Documents? Share your findings with us!



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1 Comment

  1. Simon Canick says:

    Back in March, I tried to find out more about gov docs coverage in the Google Books project. I emailed Google and received the response below. Not much to go on…. Simon Canick UConn Law Hello Simon, Thank you for your interest in Google Book Search. As you noted, we have partnered with major research libraries that have an extensive collection of U.S. Government documents. Please feel free to view the government documents that we have already scanned and included in our index, such as the congressional hearings available here: http://books.google.com/books?q=congressional+hearings As our program expands, we would like to make more government documents publicly available. I appreciate your taking the time to write us, and I encourage you to let us know how we can improve Google Book Search. As this is still a young program, new features are under consideration and your feedback is very helpful. Sincerely, The Google Book Search Team

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