Semantic Search: Talk to Books

Google introduced a demo version of a new semantic search tool: Talk to Books.

TtB is not a traditional search engine in that keyword searching won’t return the best results. It’s better served to type out a whole question (harkening back to Ask Jeeves days!).

The results are culled from the large e-library of Google Books and the results page is easy to take in with its quote pull-outs and cover images.

As it exists, Talk to Books is not a major stop on a research journey–these results pull from all sorts of sources, not taking into account their scholarly nature or whether information is up-to-date.

It is, however, a novelty that presents a new way to interact with searching and finding books outside what you would normally come across. One of the sample search queries is “Why did you do that?,” for example.

Talk to Books is also primed for experimentation. Changing up your search style will bring up a wholly different set of results.



As this resource grows and more semantic-style search tools are developed, the way we interact with our searches (in this case, primary sources) will change for the better.



South Park

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Difficult device? Overdrive can help!

Recently I taught a training on using difficult devices with Overdrive: the GOOD (Android and iOS devices), the BAD (Kindle Fire & Nook HD), and the UGLY (Nook Color, Nook Black & White, and MP3 players). If you missed it, or if you need to brush up the next time someone comes to the library with one of these more difficult devices, or if you have one yourself – Overdrive Help Pages are here to the rescue! Start at their “Device Profile” page and go from there for constantly updated, step-by-step instructions for accessing Overdrive (and Libby, if available) on a wide variety of devices.

Image result for overdrive device profiles

Heather Auman
Western Allegheny Community Library

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Just never got started with OverDrive?

Why not try it now?

While diving in and just plain using OverDrive yourself to request, borrow, read, and return items is probably the best way to learn it, there are free webcasts available that can help to introduce you to it and/or Libby:

There are several tabs for different subjects — some are upcoming live webcasts, but most are recorded and can be viewed at any time.  The webcasts generally range from 10 to 30 minutes.

If you’re new to OverDrive, you can safely skip anything about Marketplace — it’s basically the store where libraries (or consortia) purchase titles for patrons to borrow.

Christy @ McKeesport

Continue ReadingJust never got started with OverDrive?