Google search engine links to library eBooks

I discovered on Lifehacker.com recently that Google now links to your local library’s eBooks when you Google search for a book title. Take for example “The Black Echo,” the first book in the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. If you Google search “The Black Echo” you will see options to buy the book as well as the availability to borrow the eBook from a library near you. Simply enter your zip code and Google will magically find the library nearest you and link directly to the eBranch for borrowing.

This search experience may look slightly different depending on the title you are looking for, how widely available it is, and if you are searching on a desktop or mobile device.

If your first search doesn’t display this new feature, try another bestseller or title within a series. Books turned movie or TV show may muddle your results. Real, live humans at your local library can always help you when technology doesn’t cut it!

Our eBooks are available through Overdrive, which hosts thousands of eBooks and eAudio titles for you to borrow for free with no fines or late fees attached. That Overdrive allowed an open connection between its books and your Google search signifies that eBooks are also available from your local library, in addition to traditional book vendors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A chasm does exist between book readers from traditional vendors and libraries. Half of Americans do not have a library card, and the majority of those with a card do not use them to check out digital media. This new feature hopefully puts digital books from your library on the same playing field as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Once our card catalog went digital, we have worked to strike a balance between discovery and selection with your search results.

Some readers like to search for books and discover new titles, while others have already selected what they want to read and need only locate the title. This new feature on Google seems to be beneficial to both types of readers, giving you direct search results for a book as well as additional results for the author, series, and similar books.

Google is not the first to accomplish this. Bing, the search engine powered by Microsoft, began offering this option in 2014. “Sharing data with Google is part of OverDrive’s effort to engage new patrons and market libraries and library eBooks to non-users who may be unfamiliar with the resources that libraries now offer,” explains Matt Enis with Library Journal. This new feature may be, for many, the first introduction to the library or a sign to library users of the past that there are many books now available in digital formats.

We cannot guarantee Google’s new feature will always work or will even remain available in the future. With that said, I always recommend the first step to take when searching for a book is to visit our website at www.juniatalibrary.org and use the Search Library Catalog field to find a book (print or digital).

This new feature from Google seems likely to raise awareness of your local library resources among the uninitiated. And given the enthusiastic press and social media coverage that the feature received following a simple, one-time tweet by Google, this could indicate a strong public interest in discovering library resources using open web searches.

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.