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Posts Tagged ‘google books’

An article about Google’s plans to digitise library book collections from the Inside Higher Ed website.

There are a wide range of feelings and opinions about these kinds of plans, e.g. some people are in favour of increasing ease of access to collections, whilst others are worried about Google having too much monopoloy and control over  digitised book collections.

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Are there other life forms in the Universe? I can’t answer that question, as I haven’t spotted any UFOs over North Wales recently, but I can direct you to some library resources at Bangor University where you can begin exploring this question.

There is a short article by Rami T.F. Rekola called Life and habitable zones in the universe, in the journal Planetary and Space Science, Volume 57, Issue 4, April 2009, in the Science Direct database, accessible from the library’s list of multidisciplinary resources (once into the database, type Rekola into the author search field at the top of the screen). “In order to establish habitability we must first define what constitutes life. This is not a trivial question. There are many definitions of life in the literature, and most if not all of them can be shown to have faults or at least be inconsistent with some existing forms of life. One might argue the question is partly philosophical.” (Rekola, 2009).

You could also consult an electronic book, which you can read in full online, at the university or from home, such as Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Louis N. Irwin’s 2008 book, Life in the universe: expectations and constraints, or Peter Ulmschneider’s 2006 book, Intelligent life in the universe: principles and requirements behind its emergence. Search in the library catalogue for the keywords “life” and “universe”.

Alternatively, search the library catalogue for astrobiology, the name given to this field of study, and you will find even more resources, including an article in a 2009 issue of the International Journal of Astrobiology (Vol 8, No 1, pp51-61), by Carlos F. Oliveira and James P. Barufaldi called Aliens are us. An innovative course in astrobiology. This is about a course in astrobiology taught to non science students at the University of Texas, using the subject of alien life in the universe to pique their interest in science. The journal is in the Cambridge Journals Online database, accessible from the multidisplinary resources list (once into the database, type Aliens Are Us into the search box on the top right).

Aliens Are Us summarises some of the thinking and teaching covered by the course, giving a fascinating overview of the relevant issues for non scientists interested in this subject. “The course starts with a historical perspective to understand how the idea of extraterrestrial life originated and evolved. Then, a series of factors, important in determining whether extraterrestrial life is possible, are examined. Next, the course focuses on the ‘search for aliens’ and ‘trying to contact them’, and the question of whether Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials is approached critically. Finally, the course discusses the importance of science fiction in society and its impact on the current extraterrestrial life framework.” (Oliveira & Barufaldi, 2009, p52).

Several more electronic books on the subject show up in the library catalogue when searched using the keyword astrobiology, or you can hunt for a large printed book housed in the university’s Deiniol Library, edited by Iain Gilmour and Mark A. Sephton, and called An introduction to astrobiology. You can also view sections of this book online via Google Books.

The library has a list of astronomy journals we subscribe to.

There are more articles and resources about alien life, astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to be found in the library collections, so if you’re researching this subject or just interested, email  v.zarach@bangor.ac.uk for more suggestions.

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Regular readers of this blog will soon notice that, as a librarian, I don’t really have a preference for what we call electronic resources (online journals, databases, and so on) or printed resources (books, journals, etc). Journals, by the way, for any non academic people happening upon this blog, are collections of essays written by academics, published a few times a year, after being read and commented on by other people knowledgeable about the subject of the article. They are also sometimes called periodicals or serials.

Anyway, as I said, I have no preference for information in electronic or paper form, I just like things which are interesting to read, and well written. I do think it’s fantastic that these days, you can read entire journals and books online, either via your library if it pays for access to them, or via useful things such as Google Books, of which more in a moment, but I also have a lifelong love of books, as actual physical objects which you can curl up with and read, without having to plug them in to anything.

So my first blog post about an interesting item for the cabinet of curiosities is a pointer to something which you can either read extracts of over the internet, or in physical book format via the library collection (in Bangor).

Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness, by Carole G. Silver, published in 2000 by Oxford University Press, is a book I happened across accidentally on Google Books, whilst searching for something else. According to the Oxford University Press website, it won the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy Studies in 2000. I was interested immediately, as it had a chapter on changelings, and I love myths about changelings (see also yesterday’s post featuring WB Yeat’s poem The Stolen Child).

Here is part of the book online: Strange and Secret Peoples on Google Books.

Google Books is a very useful resource on the internet. Books are online in one of 4 formats: no preview available (only the details of the book), snippet preview (a few more details about the book such as a contents list), limited preview (some sections of the book can be read online, but not the whole book) and full view (whole book is available online). If you are searching Google Books, it’s usually worth going to Google Books Advanced Search Page, and changing the search settings to limited preview and full view, so you just get back books which you can at least partially read online. I use Google Books a lot with people who come in with enquiries, as one of several places I search for useful information (along with our electronic resources and library catalogue), and am a big fan of the site.

Alternatively, if you’re at Bangor University, we have a printed copy of the book, so search the Bangor University Library Catalogue for strange and silver, and you will find that we have a copy of the book in the Main Arts Library on College Road, shelved at GR141.S55 1999, in the Lloyds Reading Room, which is downstairs and down to the left from the main issue desk. Actually, I have the book on my desk right now, because it looks so interesting, and I want to read all about changelings, and fairy brides, and mythic races, but I promise it will be back in the library next week.

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