via NY Times
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Ben Zimmer, executive producer of a Web site and software package called the Visual Thesaurus, was seeking the earliest use of the phrase “you’re not the boss of me.” Using a newspaper database, he had found a reference from 1953.
But while using Google’s book search recently, he found the phrase in a short story contained in “The Church,” a periodical published in 1883 and scanned from the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
Ever since Google began scanning printed books four years ago, scholars and others with specialized interests have been able to tap a trove of information that had been locked away on the dusty shelves of libraries and in antiquarian bookstores.
According to Dan Clancy, the engineering director for Google book search, every month users view at least 10 pages of more than half of the one million out-of-copyright books that Google has scanned into its servers. Read more…