Google has unveiled a new service (which they seem to be doing with amazing regularity). Now you can search 200 years of newspaper articles using the Google News Archive. The Search Engine Watch article is here, and Resource Shelf has another article on the new service here. I haven’t had much of a chance to explore this new thing today (having only had 20 minutes at my desk all day, yikes), but here are some preliminary thoughts on the features of this new search:
- Like Google Scholar, not everything you find will be freely available online. Some libraries are contacting Google to ask about adding their link resolvers to this new service, but I don’t know yet what the answer has been so far.
- There’s limited faceting available on the left-hand sidebar so that you can limit your search results to a specific time period or a specific publication. Yay!
- You can elect to have your results returned chronologically by using the “Timeline” button. Cool.
- There is no list of sources. This is terrible. That means that you’re searching blind, though you can be pretty sure the major papers will be represented. (Resource Shelf points out in their article that searching “Source:[source name]” works.)
Those are the main points that interest me about the features. But when I think of how this new service relates to my life in the library I’m left with mixed feelings. I look forward to having another “back up” search interface. (I often use Google Scholar as a last-ditch search when all normal avenues have failed. And sometimes this less specific searches return what I’ve been looking for. Now I can do the same for news sources, including advertisements, btw.)
But I’m worried that this will be yet another “easy” service that isn’t as powerful as would be useful to my students, but that will seduce them with its familiarity and immediate results. I also wish I didn’t have yet another service to add to the list of places you can search as long as you’re careful not to pay for anything because we offer the same content FOR FREE.
And finally, I’m beginning to worry about Google offering new services so regularly. My first thought when I heard about the archive search was that this new thing was sapping development time from about a million other projects that I consider only half done. The book search isn’t perfect (and isn’t done), blogger is anything but done, Google Calendar doesn’t do everything it could or should, and the list goes on. I wish they’d spend some time completing a few of their other useful services rather than pushing out something new every month. But that’s just me. I could never operate if I just kept adding projects to my cue rather than finishing a few here and there.
Of course, these niggling worries didn’t stop me from checking the new service out in between editing a Writely document, blogging, adding appointments to my Google Calendar, and generally relying heavily on all things Google.