Wednesday, October 22, 2008

OCLC and Google books

I've started to come across more taxonomic books in Google Books, such as Catalogue of the specimens of snakes in the collection of the British museum by John Edward Gray. Google books provides a nice widget for embedding views of books. There is tool for generating the Javascript code. Note that in Blogger (which I use to create this blog) you need to make sure that theJavascript occurs on a single line with no line breaks for it to work.

The Javascript used (with linebreaks that must be removed before using) is:

<script type="text/javascript"
<script type="text/javascript">

I stumbled across this book whilst searching for the original record for the snake Enhydris punctata. Confusingly, the Catalogue of Life lists this snake as Enhydris punctata GRAY 1849, implying that Gray's original name still stands, whereas in fact it should be Enhydris punctata (Gray, 1849) as the Gray's original name for the snake was Phytolopsis punctata. It's little things like this that drive me nuts, especially as the Catalogue of Life has no obvious, quick means of fixing this (Wiki, anyone?).

I was also interested in using the OCLC numbers a GUID for the book, but there are several to choose from (including two related to the Google Book). Unlike DOIs, a book may have multiple OCLCs (sigh). Still, it's a GUID, and it's resolvable, so it's a start. Hence, one could link GUIDs for the names published in this book to the book itself.

1 comment:

Chris Freeland said...

OCLC numbers may be GUIDs in the strictest sense, but they are far from semantically unique, as you've discovered. Plus, now that OCLC is assigning their IDs to the digitial editions, you have the dilemma of referencing the ID for the phyical book from 1758, the electronic edition scanned by Google, or the electronic edition scanned by BHL.