Skip to Main Content

Music Research Tools: Google Books

Search Google Books

Google Books is searchable database of online books, some of which can be accessed in their entirety, some in part.

Google Books Profile

What will I have access to in Google Books?

Full-Text Searching

Google Books is, above all, a search tool. The idea behind this project was to scan books from cover to cover so that they could be searched and users could identify those books they needed to either purchase or borrow from a library. 

Searching in full-text requires using well-considered keywords, since books typically contain tens of thousands of words. If you need help developing keywords, check out this short video.

Some Full-Text/Full View Content

article with check mark iconSome books in Google Books are freely available to read and, in some cases, download because they are in the public domain (or out of copyright).

Google Books refers to its full-text content as Full View, as opposed to Preview (see below). You can toggle your results to only list items available in Full View using dropdown filters at the top of your results list.


preview iconEven if you can't get the full-text of a book online via Google Books, you can use a Preview of a book to evaluate some of the book's content. This can help you to make a preliminary determination as to whether or not a book is relevant to your research.

I like to use Google Book Previews to take a sneak peek at books that I find in the Library Catalog or on WorldCat. Usually I can at least see a table of contents and a couple of pages of the chapters I think are relevant, and in some cases, pages of the bibliography are available.

Free Searching

computer mouse iconGoogle Books' search interface is freely available to any with an internet connection. The content may not be free, or complete, or even available for purchase, but at the very least, you can walk away with some bibliographic information and be on your way to finding an item, either in print or online.

Ask a Librarian

Profile Photo
Katie Buehner
Contact: Website
Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre Arts