Thanks again to Super Intern, Megan for creating this excellent screencast about merging authors on Open Library. It’s been a fantastically successful release so far, resulting in over 100,000 edits in the last 28 days! You can watch merges as they happen in the new Author Merges recent changes view. Thanks, Megan!
Archive for September, 2010
We’ve been shifting around the way Open Library edit URLs work for Editions, Authors and Work pages, and there’s a glitch. We’re working on it –
should be back shortly.
Update, 1pm, 9/20: And, we’re back!
The covers.openlibrary.org website used to face intermittent internal errors because of memory leaks in the fastcgi library that was used. We switched to gunicorn server now and that solved this issue.
Please be aware that the OL covers API is intended for displaying book covers in other websites and not for bulk download. If you need to download book covers in bulk, please get in touch with us, we’ll be glad to help!
The Library at Night is one of my favourite books. It’s strongly influenced my thinking here at Open Library, and I definitely recommend you read it. I was excited to learn this morning via @MargaretAtwood that Mr. Manguel has released a new book, All Men Are Liars. (Review on acommonreader.org.)
As I was wandering about his website, I stumbled on this passage by Jean-Luc Terradillos on alberto.manguel.com, which I think bears repeating…
Humans can be defined as reading animals, come into the world to decipher it and themselves. The battle of every reader is therefore against the enforced education of stupidity in a consumer society that tries to turn every citizen into a buying automat incapable of reflection. In that sense, the act of reading becomes subversive, since it can lead to questioning and thinking for oneself. The enemy is not, as some would want us to believe, the electronic technology. Manguel argues that the electronic technology is not in competition with the technology of the book: they apply to different fields of creative pursuit and overlap only occasionally; the perceived antagonism between both is fostered by mercantile interests to promote the sale of electronic products, constantly updated less for scientific or intellectual reasons than for purely commercial ones — to sell more computers, not to elicit more ideas.
Speaking of eliciting ideas, that’s exactly what the Internet Archive will be trying to do at our annual October meeting, the theme of which is “Books in Browsers” this year. We’ll post more details online somewhere about the conference as they come to hand.
This is a guest post from friend-of-Open-Library, Megan Amaral. She’s currently hurtling towards the end of a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University and has a self-proclaimed penchant for metadata systems. She’s joined the Open Library team as an intern for a month or two to observe and comment on what we’re up to. Welcome, Megan! She also tweets as @bookfinch.
The upcoming Lists feature will present a really exciting opportunity for Open Library users to create and share their handmade collections of Open Library records. Lists will be flexible enough to include pretty much everything: works, editions, authors, subjects, other lists, and potentially even specific pages of works held in the Internet Archive’s collection of scanned books.
I’m sure you already know that the Open Library catalog compiles data from different sources for its records, which can then be updated by users. This results in a truly a dynamic collection of information. With Lists, there will be another way for users to organize and interact with these records. To provide an overview, here are some of my thoughts on what Lists are in the context of the Open Library catalog.
- Lists are basic, unrestricted categorizations of things. The sky’s the limit.
- You don’t have to be an expert to create or understand them.
- They are tools for sharing and re-locating records.
- They are meaningful. If someone goes to the trouble to create a list, then there is at least one person that the list is important to.
I’m a personal supporter of user-created lists because they provide all of us with a new way of browsing and locating resources. As list creators, people can gather records that represent a personal idea in a sharable and retrievable format. As information seekers, lists allow people to benefit from the opinions of experts, fanatics, and your Aunt Lulu because when anyone can make a list, anyone can become the curator of collections of their choosing.
Once released, the Lists feature will allow people to assign tags to their lists. The lists that a book (or author) appears in will also be displayed directly on that book’s own page, which means that Open Library records and lists will intersect. For example, an initial search for Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises could take you to someone’s list of “Books by American Authors who Lived in Paris”…or a list of those actual authors…or a hybrid of both. You are bound to find something new and interesting!
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in an early brainstorm for the Lists feature. During the brainstorm, George identified two activities that should definitely be included in the initial release of this feature. First, people should be notified in some way when the record of an item in their list is edited. Secondly, lists must be able to be exported. This second requirement launched a flurry of ideas of what, exactly, should be exported. The exciting photo below illustrates some of our thoughts.
The thinking is that in addition to the immediate items on the list, perhaps the export should go a little deeper into the catalog records. For example, if an author were included in a list (let’s call the list “Authors of Books About X-Rays”), would it be useful if the export of that list included the books that the author wrote? Or if a Work was listed, perhaps the different Editions of that work would be useful in the list export.
The discussion also included some thinking about how the Lists feature will actually fit into the Open Library website. What will the main Lists page have on it? Should it display lists that contain the most actively edited records here? Or the newest lists? And what will be on the pages of each individual list? (So far, these pages will include a history of edits made to the list, the Subjects of the items in the list, and an option to view changes made to the records of items in the list.)
I think that Lists will be an engaging feature for sharing and discovery. I’ll keep you updated about this feature as the Open Library team moves closer to its release!
Open Library is doing some maintenance. Back in a bit.
09:35AM: And we are back.