Meet the Librarians of Open Library

By Lisa Seaberg

Are you a book lover looking to contribute to a warm, inclusive library community? We’d love to work with you: Learn more about Volunteering @ Open Library


Behind the scenes of Open Library is a whole team of developers, data scientists, outreach experts, and librarians working together to make Open Library better and easier for patrons to use. Today, we’d like to introduce to you and celebrate some of the librarians on the team who work to keep data organized, accurate, and easy to find. Here are their stories, how they discovered Open Library, and what motivates them to help make it better every day.

Meet GLBW

Since 2017, GLBW has applied their specialized knowledge of works related to new social movements by adding and enhancing information about associated works and authors. GLBW also edits on Wikidata and Inventaire.io and adds books to archive.org. GLBW is the user name of the Gustav-Landauer-Bibliothek Witten in Witten, Germany. Thank you GLBW!

Follow GLBW on twitter: @trotz_allem #GLBibW

Meet Daniel

Daniel Capilla lives in Málaga, Spain and has been contributing to Open Library since 2013. Daniel’s interest in contributing to Open Library was sparked by his joy of reading and all things  library-and-book-related as well as the satisfaction he gets from contributing to open source projects and knowing that everyone will be able to freely enjoy his contributions in the future. Daniel states:

“I began contributing to the Open Library in a very modest way. When I would borrow a book from my local library or when I finished reading a book, I would always check the Open Library to see if there was a record for that book. If there was, I would complete it as best I could, adding a description, the cover, and so on. And if there wasn’t, I would create a new record for it. Later, I became interested in creating book lists. I have always liked the thematic reading lists that libraries make for their readers and I began to create my own lists in Open Library.

I have only recently begun to be interested in improving the Open Library metadata in a more systematic way, completing author records, correcting the list of their works, or improving the records of books available for loan in the Internet Archive. I have also made a first modest contribution to the Open Library code by adding a first Spanish translation of the website. It is not yet complete and is something I would like to continue collaborating on. The issue of the internationalization of the Open Library seems to me to be a fundamental issue for the project to have more acceptance, especially in non-English speaking countries. This is an issue on which there is still much to be done.”

Follow Daniel on twitter: @dcapillae

Meet Guy

Guy joined Open Library as a volunteer in 2019 to help with project management, data engineering, and bot development. He is an engineer, book-lover, and a global citizen that believes open knowledge and open data contributes to the greater common good. Guy likes his data like he likes his teeth: squeaky clean. His recent projects include adding covers to more than 700k editions, as well as making thousands of editions searchable by fixing and normalizing their ISBNs. By the end of 2020, Guy wants to make it easier for new contributors to enrich and sanitize Open Library’s data using bots. Interested in helping? View this open issue on Github.

Follow Guy on twitter: @guyjeangilles

Meet Blair

Blair recently became an Open Librarian and has done tremendous work to enhance and consolidate various juvenile and young adult series. Most recently she consolidated and added information to all the volumes in the popular Rainbow Magic book series.

Meet Nick

Nick Norman is a content strategist and librarian for Open Library. By helping to develop a Cultural Resource page on Open Library, Nick aims to “make it easier for readers and learners to discover new things about people and the world around them” and “reveal how equally amazing culture is–from every part of the world.”
Follow Nick on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/imnick/

Meet Kathy

As a lover of short stories and collector of the series Best American Short Stories (BASS), Kathy Ahlering was interested in finding a way to catalog her library and had been trying out various apps and websites designed for the purpose. As she became more knowledgeable about the history of the BASS series, its origins, the editors involved, etc., she became frustrated that no single site had fully accurate data. Volumes were treated as editions of a single work which made it difficult to accurately catalog each volume’s unique contents and bibliographic data. Describing what led her here, she states:

“I began to “friendly edit” data on sites that allowed it, but quickly realized that it would be smarter to clean up the info at the top of the “food chain”…  OpenLibrary.

My first “edit”, actually, was the act of clicking on “Please Note: Only Admins can delete things. Let us know if there’s a problem.” and letting ‘someone’ know that a bunch of BASS editions were coming up under the wrong work.

“I assumed my message would go directly and without delay, to the -by now bursting at the seams- blackhole of “let us know!” messages, never to be heard from again. I was also certain, having been well trained by the hundreds of site admin I’ve had the folly idea of sending a ‘let us know!’ message to in the past, that absolutely zero effort would be made to rectify the incorrect data.

Imagine my squeals of delight when I received a personal and lengthy email reply just two days later! The email addressed every issue I’d raised in my ‘let us know!’ message and welcomed my efforts to help. The rest, as they say, is his-tore-eee!”

Follow Kathy on twitter: @KathyAhlering

Meet Drini

Drini joined and made his first edit on Open Library on July 22, 2011 (almost 9 years ago today!). He loves reading, and loves data, so Open Library was a good match. In 2017, while finishing his undergrad in Computer Science, he began to contribute code to the project for combining duplicate works and for linking editions to Wikidata. In 2019, he was able to join the staff of Open Library’s development team full-time. Between balancing interests in design, information science, and human computer interaction, Drini’s most recent contribution to librarianship has been the work-merge tool used by librarians to combine duplicate works together. He is currently working on creating a new interaction experience for browsing (as opposed to searching) the books of Open Library, and on modernizing Open Library’s search infrastructure. He looks forward to continuing to build tools to help make librarians more productive and to help push the frontier of what a digital catalogue and library can be.

Follow Drini on twitter: @cdrini

Meet Charles

Charles Horn is passionate about early printed classical Greek works, Greek typography, and classical languages and literature. Charles began volunteering on Open Library around 2015, by writing bots to catch & clean-up spam edits and clean millions book and author catalog entries record. In 2017, he joined the Internet Archive as a member of staff and made fundamental improvements to Open Library’s MARC & json book import system. On top of this revitalized import infrastructure, Charles has imported tens of thousands of modern books catalog records, added hundreds of thousands of partner records into Open Library’s catalog, fixed millions of orphaned edition records, and has helped Open Library use Wikidata and VIAF data to merge almost 100k author records.

Follow Charles on github: @hornc

Meet Lisa

Lisa Seaberg has been an active contributor to Open Library since 2017 and Lead Community Librarian since 2019. 

Lisa’s life-long obsession with books and book metadata is what initially attracted her to Open Library. Similar to Daniel, she initially started by making small contributions by making lists and adding book information. Soon after, she discovered the repository on GitHub and started reporting errors, suggesting features, and contributing to discussions about the site. As Lead Community Librarian, Lisa helps site users with questions about editing and best practices and provides guidance to new librarians learning how to use the tools. Additionally, Lisa tries to help make it easier for patrons to find what they are looking for by consolidating duplicate works and authors, fixing conflated records, and making sure information is complete. Besides reading, Lisa’s other interests include FRBR, board games, and pub trivia. She currently lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Follow Lisa on twitter: @seabelis


Are you a book lover looking to contribute to a warm, inclusive library community? We’d love to work with you: Learn more about Volunteering @ Open Library

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