I just stumbled on a beautiful, recently-scanned book about snowflakes, published in 1863. Apart from its gorgeous illustrations, the author’s opinions about snowflakes are also fascinating.

By the way, the other day we added a little link on any Internet Archive pages that are echoed in Open Library that sends you straight to our open, editable record for that item, so, if you’re surfing around the Archive’s Texts collection and you find a book we have a record for, you can just jump across and – if you’re so inclined – help to flesh out the information we have about it.

The even more interesting thing about this is that Hank (who coded up the stuff from the Archive side) simply has to construct a URL at Open Library containing an Internet Archive item ID, like this:

This is a small step towards something much more awesome. (We should note that what makes this work is that we’re just “across the hall” from Hank, so we were able to do a little testing and tweaking to make sure the link was offered only when we could count on there being an Open Library page for the book, but still!) The hope is that external sites can send along, say, and ISBN, or an LCCN identifier to poke into Open Library and see if we have a record.

The next logical step is to make a web service that can handle this sort of inquiry. We don’t have that just yet, and current performance is slow, but, it’s really exciting and something we aim to strengthen. It would mean that people could query Open Library for records even if they don’t know an Open Library identifier (but have an alternative identifier that we know about). The current list of identifiers we can record are: Dewey, LC, ISBN 10, ISBN 13, LCCN, IA & OCLC.

Another wish is to open up the sorts of identifiers that you might attach to an Open Library catalog record, for example, from our friends over at LibraryThing, or GoodReads, or any number of awesome book sites out there. Things get interesting if you consider the possibility that there may never be a canonical identifier for a book, but rather that there will always be many different ones. That consideration allows you to open up a pipe to any identifiers we can find, which makes for many more potential connections.

Snowflakes, indeed.

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