Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tools for the home researcher and writer - 1

One of the difficulties we all face in writing or researching is finding that book.

When I first started working so much from home, the on-line world was far less developed. Now there is a wealth of material available to help.

I find Google books the first indispensable tool. I thought that most people were aware of this one, but it seems not.

You can search by author, title or subject. I use the last all the time. At the very least, it provides lists of possible references. In some cases it provides snippet views of content that can be helpful. In others, limited pre-views that actually allow you to check slabs of a book. In further cases for older works out of copyright, an increasing number have actually been digitised and are this fully available on line.

Google books has a find in a library feature that I find very helpful. However, here I also use Worldcat, an on-line tool that allows you to search the catalogues of what seem to be thousands of participating libraries.

Here I found to my surprise that a larger number of my own papers have survived than I had expected, although there are some errors in authors. I am James D, not James P, Belshaw. The second is my father. There is enough still in my old Departmental library written by me and others to get a feel for the things that we were trying to achieve in industry policy during that reform period from 1983.           

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