I used the infamous and controversial Google Books for the first time yesterday, finding several obscure references to Stereophotography. Most of them were rather mundane mentions, but one talked about a stereophotography guide from 1859, when the new art wasn’t quite dry behind the ears yet, written by a famous (I found) Californian unitarian Minister named Thomas Starr King. Fascinating as it was, locating the guide itself proved impossible, so I went back to the original quote on Google Books. It didn’t mention anything else, but the quote from the guide had a footnote associated, presumably providing some reference. Or rather, it was an endnote on an entirely different page. Getting a specific page from Google Books is a bit of an ordeal, since the copyright zealots only allow the 2 pages surrounding the search results to be accessible, so I had to work my way up two pages at a time, until I found – that Google had made an error in scanning the pages containing the endnotes. The one I needed was missing.
I then located the source book on the UCB campus here, walked up to the shelf, found it missing, squeezed the information out of the catalogue that the book was on reserve in a different library, and found, after physically going there, that the staff there couldn’t locate it, either. Something to do with the semester having just ended. Seems that while the golden age of digital search has arrived, we can just hope the age of digital finding will follow on its heels soon.