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Did You Notice? Google Books Has a New Look

This month Google celebrates 15 years of providing digitized books to the world by updating the Google Books website. If you’ve heard any presentation I’ve given you know that I believe Google Books is the best non-genealogy genealogy website there is. Google Books provides family history researchers with free digitized books that include local histories, city directories, genealogically relevant periodicals, family history books and more. In addition, there are “card catalog” entries for books under copyright protection with the ability to find that book in a library or bookstore.

Google Books home

Google’s  blog post unveils the new changes and reminds readers that over 40 million books in 400 languages are available on the website.[1] This new redesign allows you to access everything you want to know about that book in one place. About the update, Google writes “We’ve redesigned Google Books so people can now quickly access details like the book’s description, author’s history and other works, reader reviews and options for where you can purchase or borrow the book. And for those using Google Books for research, each book’s bibliographies are located prominently on the page and the citation tool allows you to cite the source in your preferred format, all in one spot.” (Watch the video found on the blog post to catch genealogist Lisa Lisson talk about how she uses Google Books for genealogy). 

The new look is clean and allows you to easily read more about the book, the author, view the table of contents and a source citation.


Google Books 1


By clicking on the Search inside button you can page through the book or use a search engine to find your keywords of interest.


Google Books Add to my library

Don’t forget the Add to my Library button which allows you to place books on virtual bookshelves. This is a great feature for creating bookshelves for the surname, location, or topic you’re researching. You will need a Google Account (your Gmail credentials serve as a Google Account) in order to access this service.

Scrolling down the screen for the book you are interested allows you to easily find  a place to buy the book or enter your zip code for the library nearest you with that item via the worldwide library catalog WorldCat. The book’s page also shows other editions of that book.

Google Books 2

Are you using Google Books? If you’re not, start today! Conduct a search on your ancestor’s name or the place they called home. I know that you will find something you can use for your research.

[1] “15 Years of Google Books,” The Keyword ( accessed 20 October 2019).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


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Thank you for introducing me to this new world.

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