The Internet’s Own Boy premieres today

By Jessamyn West

The Internet’s Own Boy, the documentary about Aaron Swartz, premieres online and in theaters today. You can watch it on the Internet Archive. From the film’s website

The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.

Here is Aaron’s blog post, from 2007, announcing Open Library. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without him and we miss him.

Our goal is to build the world’s greatest library, then put it up on the Internet free for all to use and edit. Books are the place you go when you have something you want to share with the world — our planet’s cultural legacy. And never has there been a bigger attempt to bring them all together.

Here are his slides from his “Building the Open Library” talk also in 2007.

screen shot from Aaron Swartz's slides, Building Open Library

Resolved: Open Library unexpected downtime

By Jessamyn West

Update: This should now be resolved. 6 pm PDT.

Adobe had an unprecedented license server outage for most of the day on May 15th (PDT). Users have experienced issues checking books out of our lending library, mainly getting various Adobe errors. We are still trying to resolve the issues resulting from Adobe’s server outage and hope to fix the problem as quickly as possible. We’ve been in contact with our license provider and we hope to have it fixed soon. In the meantime lending/reading books via the BookReader is still functioning normally.

Apologies for the inconvenience. We’ll update the help page when it’s fixed.

Open Library Scheduled Hardware Maintenance (Completed)

By Anand Chitipothu

Open Library will be down from 5:00PM to 6:00PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on April 1, 2014 due to a scheduled hardware maintenance.

We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter.

Thank you for your cooperation.

UPDATE 5:23PM PDT – is back online now.

Open Library Scheduled Maintenance (Completed)

By Anand Chitipothu

Open Library will be down from 4:00PM to 4:30PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on March 25, 2014 due to a scheduled hardware maintenance.

We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter.

Thank you for your cooperation.

UPDATE 4:45PM – is back online now.

Open Library Scheduled Downtime (Completed)

By Anand Chitipothu

Open Library will be down from during the following time due to a scheduled power outage.

  • Tuesday, April  16 – 7:00AM to 12:00 noon
  • Wednesday, April 17 – 2:00PM to 7:00PM

Thank you for your cooperation.

 UPDATE 5:30PM PST: is back online.

Rest in peace, Aaron Swartz

By Anand Chitipothu

Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday (Jan 11, 2013).

The Open Library wouldn’t exist without him. He wrote the backbone of the system you see today, hired the team that built the first version of the website.

He founded Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA), coauthored the RSS 1.0 specification, cofounded the online news site Reddit, among many other good things.

His death is a great loss to all of us. May his soul rest in peace.

Scheduled Downtime (Completed)

By Anand Chitipothu

We’re planning for a scheduled downtime on Sunday, August 5 for migrating our database server to new hardware. Open Library will be unavailable for  about 3 hours during 7:00 PM PST – 10:00 PM PST. We’ll post here when the site’s back online.

UPDATE 8:40PM PST: The migration is  complete. Both and are back online.

Reading lending library books on the Nook

By Mike McCabe

Our lending library books now work on the Nook!

If you can read online, try the ‘Read In Browser’ link on a borrowable book. This is simplest!  Otherwise, you’ll need a computer, with Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) installed.

Once you have ADE, here’s how to use it with your Nook:

  • Quit Digital Editions, if it’s running
  • Plug in the Nook, and start ADE
  • ADE should recognize the Nook, and offer to associate with it. Make sure you can see the Nook under ‘Bookshelves’ on the left. Ok!
  • Go to the borrow page and borrow a book in pdf or epub format.
  • If ADE is working properly, you should see your book!
  • Next, go to ‘Library View’ in ADE – in the upper left.
  • In the Library View, drag your new book over to the Nook icon under ‘Bookshelves.’
  • Quit ADE and eject your Nook.

To read on the Nook:

  • Go to your Library (on a Nook Color, do this by touching the bottom of the touchscreen)
  • Go to ‘my files’ – at the top – and open ‘Digital Editions’
  • Open your book! (if it says ‘sorry, can’t open this book’, try again.)

To return your book early so that others can borrow it:

  • Quit ADE if it’s running
  • Plug in your Nook and start ADE
  • Open ‘Library View’ and click ‘All Items’ on the left
  • On your book icon, there’s a drop down menu (a little triangle) in the upper left – select ‘Return Borrowed Item’
  • Open the Nook, in the bookshelf area on the left.
  • On your book icon – select ‘Return Borrowed Item’.
  • Your book should now be available to borrow again!

If you run into trouble, here’s a forum on the Barnes and Noble site about how to get ADE working with the Nook.

KohaCon 2011

By Noufal

Anand and I attended the Koha Conference in Thane, Mumbai earlier in November and spoke about Open Library. The conference took place from Oct 31 till 2 November. There was a hackfest following the event from 4th to 6th.

We missed the first day and presented our talk on the second day of the event. The first day had a number of interesting talks mainly about libraries shifting to Koha and about deployment issues. We spent our free time speaking to Robin Sheat, Dobrica Pavlinu i and Ian Walls among others about ways to tie up the Open Library data along with Koha installations. While the audience was somewhat small, it was truly international. There were folks from Kenya, Nigeria, France, the States, New Zealand, Australia, Croatia and of course various parts of India. We also met Savitra who apart from being a Koha developer, runs a Bangalore based company called OSS labs that provides hosted Koha instances for libraries.

We presented on the last day. Our slides are available at It was an introduction to Open Library, the data we have and some discussions on the API. There were a few questions mainly about copyright issues and about the classification system we use on the website. The conference was attended by many librarians and two of them (The Institute of Management Studies Library at VPM Thane and the University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Library, Croatia) have applied to join the Open Library Lending Library program.

After the presentations, November 3rd was a day off and we spent it wandering around the older parts of Mumbai. On November 4th, we went back and spent the morning brainstorming about ideas to implement. We came up with a few

The first is a simple database update that presents OL as a search option when a book is not found while searching in a Koha installation. It’s been done and signed off.

The second was a simple Javascript change that fetches covers and borrow information from Open Library and then presents it when searches are done on Koha. This has been implemented as well.

The third is the most involved part and we have started work on an API to upload covers to OL which can be used by any external program. We have also started work on an API for Koha to search our records to see if the book being added is already in our database (in which case, it can auto complete the details for them). The search will also return the cover if it exists. On our end, if the koha side agrees, we can populate our database with the catalogue record being searched for and if a cover is uploaded, we can get a copy of that as well. This means that if a Koha instance in one library has uploaded a cover, other libraries will be able to use it. On the Koha side, Robin has a private branch that contains the work in progress. Details are in the bugzilla entry.

We’re following up on the bugs and the lending library requests to join. On the overall, it was a wonderful event and one that benefited Open Library as well as Koha.

BookReader Work Sprint at NYPL Labs

By mang

We had a really fantastic code/work sprint for the BookReader organized by the most excellent NYPL Labs.  The sprint was designed to bring together organizations that have an interest in the BookReader as a way to foster the sharing of interest, code and expertise.

New York Public Library

We started by making a list of desired features and prioritizing them.  High on the list was to make the code more modular and easier to understand, reuse and extend.  We made great progress towards that goal by creating a new plugin architecture that allows new views of the book to be added cleanly to the existing code.  For example, it will be possible to create a book view that uses the <canvas> tag or other advanced web technologies and have it automatically included in the BookReader application simply by including that plugin’s JavaScript file.

Looking down into the stacks

Another highly desired feature is making it easier for people to use their own books with the BookReader application.  Doug Reside from NYPL Labs contributed a “book loader” (our new term for the piece of code that connects the BookReader to the underlying images and metadata for a book to display) that allows you to specify the images for a book directly inside an HTML file.  This new loader provides a simple way to use the BookReader for your own books.

The new code is currently on the codesprint branch of the BookReader github repository.  We plan to integrate the new plugin system once the code has been polished and tested. Updated documentation is also coming. You can subscribe to the bookreader-announce mailing list to be notified when the code is released. You can also find more information about developing and using the BookReader in our developer resources.

Mitch Brodsky with his BookReader customized for the NY Philharmonic

This works sprint hosted by NYPL Labs marks an exciting new milestone in the development of the BookReader. We’re setting the foundation for greater re-use and collaboration around the BookReader. Many thanks to Doug Reside, David Riordan and Ben Vershbow of NYPL Labs for organizing the sprint and the fantastic attendees who contributed ideas and code commits!

BookReader Sprinters