Turn Your Website into a Library

Openlibrary.org has over 3M books lining its digital shelves, but nothing quite beats being able to embed your favorite book directly on your personal site. Last week, with the help of volunteer Galen Mancino, we launched an embed tool which lets you add any Open Library book to your website or blog. Next time you write a book review, you can place its Open Library book right next to it and, if its available, enable your audience to read it with a single click.

What does it look like?

Here’s a version of a webpage which has been modified from its original form to include an Open Library book embed side-by-side its book review.

Want to add a book to your site?

Here’s how! First, find your favorite book on openlibrary.org and click on the embed button (see figure 1). A message box will pop up containing a line of html code you can add to your to your website (see figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Looking Forward

In the future, we’re considering extending the book embed feature to support reading lists. If you’re interested in this feature, please let us know on our twitter or github.

Volunteer Spotlight

Galen Mancino is a volunteer for the Open Library project. He is passionate about sustainable and local economic growth, revitalization, and how technology can bring us there. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Interdisciplinary Computer Science. You can learn more about what Galen is working on by going to galenmancino.com.

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Share what you’re reading

To bring in the new year, Open Library announced a new feature called the Reading Log which lets you keep track of the books you’re currently reading, have finished reading, or want to read. Over the last two months since we launched the feature, we’ve received promising feedback from our community. Our reading log stats page shows over 53,000 readers have logged more than 100,000 books! It’s even helped us learn which books our community cares most about. The biggest point of feedback we’ve received is that many readers wish there was a way to share their reading log with friends.

As a library, and as readers ourselves, we take reader privacy seriously. We believe everyone should have the right to feel safe and have their privacy respected when they search for and borrow books. So when we launched the Reading Log feature, we decided to make it private by default, so only you can see what books you’re tracking. We also gave readers full control to manage, add, and remove books from their reading lists. We still think this is the right choice and will continue making the Reading Log private-by-default for all new users.

But now, readers have a choice: Announcing the public Reading Log option!

Starting today, users will be able to go to a new privacy page where they can manage their account settings and make their Reading Logs public so they can share it with their family and friends.

How do I make my Reading Log public?

After going to your privacy page, you can click the “Yes” option to make your Reading Log public.

You can then visit your Reading Log and use the Share button to generate a link which you can share with your friends!

We hope the public Reading Log feature will give your friends inspiration as to what they should read next!

 

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A Holiday Gift from Open Library: Introducing the Reading Log

For years readers have been asking us for a convenient way to keep track of the books they’re reading.

As we prepare to step through the threshold into 2018, we’re happy to announce the release of a brand new Reading Log feature which lets you indicate all the books you’d like to read, books you’ve already read, and books you’re currently reading.

You can now mark a book as “Want to Read”, “Currently Reading”, or “Already Read”, in addition to adding it to one of your themed reading lists.

Here’s how it works!

Any time you go to a book page on Open Library, you will see a new green button with the text “Want to Read”. By clicking on this button, you can mark this book as a work you’d like to read. By clicking on the white dropdown arrow on the right side of the button, you can select from other options too, like “Currently Reading” or “Already Read”. Once you click one of these options, the green button will appear gray with a green check, indicating your selection has been saved.

Where can I review my Reading Log?

You can review the books in your Reading Log by clicking the “My Books” menu and selecting the “My Reading Log” option in the dropdown.

You can find a link to your Reading Log page under the “My Books” menu

From this page, you can manage the status of the books you’re reading and easily find them in the future.

A preview of the Reading Log page

Who can see my Reading Log selections?

Books you mark as “Want to Read”, “Currently Reading”, or “Already Read” are made private by default. We know some people want to share what books they’re reading. In the future, we hope to offer an option for readers to make their Reading Log public.

Can I Still Use Lists?

You can still use your existing Lists and even create new ones! In addition to giving you a convenient way to log your reading progress, you can also use the green dropdown menu to add this book to one of your custom themed Lists.

Send Us Your Feedback!

We hope you love this new feature as much as we do and we’d love to hear your thoughts! Tweet us at @openlibrary. Is the Reading Log feature not working as you expect? Please tell us about any issues you experience here.

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Celebrating 20 Years of the Internet Archive with an Open Library Feature Bonanza

To celebrate the Internet Archive’s 20th anniversary, the Open Library team has added pages for 200,000 new modern works and rolled out a brigade of fixes and features to improve our user experience.

screen shot of book reader

Over the past year, Open Library’s digital librarian Jessamyn West and lead engineer Brenton Cheng have worked tirelessly with the engineering team and volunteer community to outline a roadmap for revitalizing Open Library and address the issues most affecting our users. We’re proud to announce progress on several fronts, including social sharing, improved book lending, a mobile-optimized book reader, full-text search, a new developer tool, and the addition of thousands of new modern works.

  • Thanks to the efforts of Giovanni Damiola, full-text search through all books hosted on the Internet Archive is back online and is faster than ever. You can try the new feature, for example, to see over 115,000 places where works reference Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “Little strokes fell great oaks”.
  • Thanks to Richard Caceres, we have a beautiful new Book Reader, which looks great on mobile devices and provides a much clearer and simpler book borrowing experience. Try out the new Book Reader and see for yourself!
  • In the processing of adding hundreds of thousands of new modern works to the Open Library catalog, Mek Karpeles released our new openlibrary-client, a command line developer tool for programmatically fetching and creating new works on Open Library.

There are a few small changes in the BookReader that we think you’ll like specifically. EPUB and PDF loans can be initiated from within an existing BookReader loan. What this means for Open Library users is two pretty cool things you’ve long requested:

  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can borrow either EPUB or PDF formats, and switch formats during the loan period.
  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can return loans early, even EPUBs and PDFs.

 

screen shot showing onscreen areas to download and return books

We hope these changes will delight our readers, empower our developers, and help our community to make even more quality contributions. The path ahead looks even more promising. With clear direction and exciting redesign concepts in the works, the Open Library team is eager to bring you an Open Library at the cutting edge of the 21st century while giving you access to five centuries’ of texts.

image from old reading textbook

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Towards better EPUBs at Open Library and the Internet Archive

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 17.26.54

You may have read about our recent downtime. We thought it might be a good opportunity to let you know about some of the other behind the scenes things going on here. We continue to answer email, keep the FAQ updated and improve our metadata. Many of you have written about the quality of some of our EPUBs. As you may know, all of our OCR (optical character recognition) is done automatically without manual corrections and while it’s pretty good, it could be better. Specifically we had a pernicious bug where some books’ formatting led to the first page of chapters not being part of some books’ OCRed EPUB. I personally had this happen to me with a series of books I was reading on Open Library and I know it’s beyond frustrating.

To address this and other scanning quality issues, we’re changing the way EPUBs work. We’ve improved our OCR algorithm and we’re shifting from stored EPUB files to on-the-fly generation. This means that further developments and improvements in our OCR capabilities will be available immediately. This is good news and has the side benefit of radically decreasing our EPUB storage needs. It also means that we have to

  • remove all of our old EPUBs (approximately eight million items for EPUBs generated by the Archive)
  • put the new on-the-fly EPUB generation in place (now active)
  • do some testing to make sure it’s working as expected (in process)

We hope that this addresses some of the EPUB errors people have been finding. Please continue to give us feedback on how this is working for you. Coming soon: improvements to Open Library’s search features!

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