Like Ben Zimmer, I’ve complained more than once (e.g., here) about the glaring deficiencies of Google Books; now I learn from his latest post at the Log that

…the Hathi Trust has been established by the thirteen university libraries that make up the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. This includes the University of Michigan, which has contributed a major portion of Google’s scanned material thus far. The Hathi Trust is not nearly as wary as Google in providing page images and fully searchable text for public domain materials. What this means is that if you find something on GBS that only gives you “snippet view,” “limited preview,” or “no preview available,” you may be able to find the full page images by going to a CIC library site. The University of Michigan has already implemented this as part of its Mirlyn Library Catalog, with links to public domain material provided under the name “HathiTrust Digital Library.” (Roy Tennant of Library Journal has also mocked up a prototype search service, but it still needs some work.)

Go to his post for an example of how he used Hathi to antedate “an old bit of British comedy”; frankly, I’m very disappointed that Google has shown so little interest in remedying the problems with its book search, but it’s great that the Hathi Trust is doing so.


  1. The LanguageLog post on this subject left me very disturbed. The comments posted gave me the etymology of hathi for elephant, but also led me to the shocking discovery that the absence of etymology in my dead tree version of Platts is not replicated in the online version. Perhaps the Hathi Trust’s service can help.

  2. (This comment is also posted to LL.)
    I’ll just mention that it’s very much worthwhile, if you’ve gotten a Google Books link through regular Google search, to do a Books-specific search from Google Advanced Book Search specifying the author and title. You can often find another entry that is full-text.
    For example, if you search for the phrase “intrinsec service” [sic], the first hit is a Google Books link to Pollock & Maitland’s The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I. Unfortunately, it’s a limited-page view dated 1996, a reprint, probably from the publisher. But if you do the advanced search for those authors and title, the first hit is the full text of the 1899 second edition, from a university library.
    Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on Book Search, and I don’t know how it works specifically.

  3. Well, Mirlyn / Hathi Trust Search found one of three in my current document that Google Books had in snippet view, which isn’t bad. I still don’t understand why things end up listed in Mirlyn as Google Books snippet view and not Hathi when GB says the original (from before 1910) was from Michigan. But it’s nice to have another thing to try.
    Can’t you limit the Google Books search to Full view only and get just the older edition listed? (Coming in from Google search, Search Books, then change Showing.) The technique John Cowan gives may still help in the case where the OCR of the older edition wasn’t as good or the list was very long and the book you found originally isn’t in the front of the Full view order.

  4. Crown, A.J.P. says

    Ben Zimmer’s very useful post has led me back after an hour or so to the wiki List of Swedish Noble Families that John Emerson has mentioned a couple of times and I’ve finally got it, this stuff is fascinating. Here are a few of the names, roughly chronologically, but there are 2,350 in all, so plenty more distraction is available:
    Puke, Snoilsky, Bååt, Natt och Dag, Creutzhammar, Urqvard, von Baggo, Gahn af Colquhoun, Gyldencrantz and Rosenstein (I can’t find a Rosenstern). The list would make a good screensaver.
    I think John may have said something about there not being any ‘ordinary’ Swedish names, which is true, but I’ve found that until the Vasa family (of Karl XII) took over in 1523 royal names included several Birgerssons, Erikssons and Knutssons. That may have something to do with the monarchy of Sweden having been an elected position or much of this past millennium.

  5. John Emerson says

    Gustavus Vasa: founder of a dynasty, or freed slave — or both?

  6. Crown, A.J.P. says

    Olaudah Equiano, but apparently the Swedish Gustav used to compare himself to Moses.

  7. Just slightly on-topic: I’ve found something to be more prevalent in the online corpora than I’d expected. Is selons just a typo for selon, evidently favored by English transcriptions of bits of French? Or is there something more going on?

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