By Ken Fox, Research Librarian
A week or two ago, I told you how to find Irwin law books using the Des Libris platform, accessible through the Member Resource section. I ended that post on a bit of a sour note, explaining that your search to find relevant ebook material from Des Libris does not help you locate material within the book. So now I am back to give you some tips on navigating the books themselves.
First, as a slight correction, the Des Libris main display has changed once again. Now, rather than seeing a list of many topics (Law being but one), we are shown our legal materials immediately, under three headings:
The Complete Collection includes all titles from the other two categories, plus some other key legal titles, such as Payne’s texts on Canadian Family Law and Child Support Guidelines in Canada. Other than that, the platform and its searches work the same as I reported in my previous post.
Developing an example I started last time, my search is “standard of care” – and I am in the latest (6th) edition of Osbourne’s The Law of Torts.
The display has two viewing panes with grey menu strips on the left and above. The main text appears in the right-hand pane, with the left pane displaying various features that we librarians like to call “finding aids.” There are 5 finding aids, but only the first 3 are functional with our multi-user subscription. The final two, annotations and bookmarks, require a personal account. The default option is a clickable table of contents, followed by thumbnails and search.
The “search” function is really more of a “find,” in that the entire text of the book is really a single document, and the search allows you to find terms within the text. So there is no list of results that you can sort and filter, and there are no operators. The search only locates exact matches to the text you type in the box (always enter without quote marks):
The results display in the order they appear in the book. It does not tell you how many hits there are, but it is easy to get an estimate using the scroll bar – roughly 200 in this case. Clicking on the snippets takes you to that place in the text with the terms highlighted in purple.
For the present search, there is no need to go through dozens of results. The very first match is a heading in the Table of Contents – so the prudent researcher will end the search there and proceed directly to that place in the book. The headings are clickable.
If you are searching for a more unusual phrase, such as res ipsa loquitur (11 results), then you can use the results display to navigate directly to each individual hit.
The search automatically truncates – so “foresee” returns “foreseeability.” But note that there is no thesaurus – the search is not looking for related words – it only knows how to search for words that begin with the same letters. To disable this function, click on “Whole word only.”
The search disregards case unless you check “case sensitive.” This feature can be used to search headings – “Standard of Care” (Case sensitive) returns ten results rather than 200.
Now let’s look at the top menu strip:
At the far left, the “quote-marks” button allows you to get an instant citation for the book. To the right of that is the “copy text” function, which is great for pulling quotes from the text to use in your written materials.
Moving from left to right, next is the page layout modes, including page rotation. For the most part, I would recommend using the “continuous” and “facing page continuous” modes. In the “single” (default) and “facing” modes, I often find the text leaps ahead when I am trying to read the bottom of the page. Using “continuous” prevents unwanted page jumps. The next commands, “fit width” and “fit page” optimize the size of the document for your screen.
Next are viewing tools: “pan” and “text select,” with pan being the default. Pan makes your cursor a hand that can grab the page and move it a bit up, down, left or right. “Text select” (the bar resembling a capital “I”) allows you to copy text without using the “copy text” tool.
Next is print. There are no save or download options. However, the print command can be used to create PDF files. First you need to figure out the range of pages you need. There is a page-number selector at the bottom of the screen, beside the zoom controls:
Be advised that the page selector references page numbers of the electronic document, which are different from the page numbers in the book itself – page 3 in the book is page 27 in the document.
Now click on the printer icon above, enter your page range, and click on “print.” This calls up your computer’s print dialogue box:
To create a PDF file, use the drop-down menu to select “Save as PDF.” This, in turn, should raise a “save as” dialogue box – so you can save a copy to your hard drive or to the cloud. This function may look a bit different, depending on your computer’s operating system, but I believe most current PCs can do this.
The Des Libris front page says that “Books may be read online or downloaded to personal devices.”
I did attempt to use this text on my Android smart phone, and did not have a great experience. After attempting to use the text with my wifi and mobile data turned off, I am fairly certain that you need a live connection to view the book at all – unfortunately, you cannot “download” a personal copy. Results likely vary from device to device – so please, if it suits you, experiment with accessing Des Libris texts on your phone or tablet and let us know how it turns out in the comment section below.
Ebook formats are not designed for research purposes, but they have the benefit of allowing our legal publishing companies to publish their entire collections in a way that is affordable. So some of the above tips are “workarounds” to adapt the platform to do things it was not designed to do. If YOU know a workaround solution that is not mentioned here, please let us know in the comments or by email.