Tag Archives: openlibrary

Library Explorer at Library Leaders Forum

Introducing the Open Library Explorer

Try it here! If you like it, share it.

Bringing 100 Years of Librarian-Knowledge to Life

By Nick Norman with Drini Cami & Mek

At the Library Leaders Forum 2020 (demo), Open Library unveiled the beta for what it’s calling the Library Explorer: an immersive interface which powerfully recreates and enhances the experience of navigating a physical library. If the tagline doesn’t grab your attention, wait until you see it in action:

Drini showcasing Library Explorer at the Library Leaders Forum
Get Ready to Explore

In this article, we’ll give you a tour of the Open Library Explorer and teach you how one may take full advantage of its features. You’ll also get a crash course on the 100+ years of library history which led to its innovation and an opportunity to test-drive it for yourself. So let’s get started!  

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Re-thinking Open Library’s Book Pages

by Mek Karpeles, Tabish Shaikh

We’ve redesigned our Book Pages: BeforeAfter.
Please share your feedback with us.

A web page for every book… This is the mission of Open Library: a free, inclusive, online digital library catalog which helps readers find information about any book ever published.

Millions of books in Open Library’s catalog have been made available to preview, read, or borrow using the Internet Archive’s controlled digital lending library. However, the catalog also features tens of millions of books which are yet to have previews and instead serve as resources that help patrons learn more about books, share lists of books they love, keep track of what they’re reading, and locate copies from bookstores and local libraries.

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Not just scanning – Thoreau’s Cape Cod

It makes no odds what it is you carry, so long as you carry the truth along with you. – intro to 1893 edition

There are many good responses to “Why do we still have libraries when everything is online?” My favorite one has to do with the importance of finding people to curate and sort and sift through the enormous bulk of online material to create knowledge and wisdom from what is merely just data. Small projects which do not scale. Henry David Thoreau went to Cape Cod in the mid 1800s and wrote about the experience. His writings on Cape Cod were published in 1865 and reprinted many times after that. The text can be found any number of places, but actually flipping through the books reveals a lot more about the cultural history of this book and the text it contains. Just the covers alone are lovely to look at.

cover of Cape Cod featuring windmill

Cover featuring the Eastham Windmill

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openlibrary.org downtime (resolved)

Apologies for the service interruption. Our new Virtual Machine Environment hiccuped this morning, and we’re shaking out the process we need to go through to restart everything smoothly. Covers should be being served normally from covers.openlibrary.org using ISBN or other supported identifiers.

I’ll update here if there’s relevant news – hopefully it won’t be down much longer.

Update, 4:00PM PST: OK. We’re stable again now. Damn race conditions in Linux kernels!

Update, 10:00PM PST: The website is down again.

Update, May 17 2:00AM PST: We’re back online now. But, covers.openlibrary.org is offline, which unfortunately means that external sites accessing Open Library covers using ISBNs is also offline. Covers on openlibrary.org are being served from an alternate location. (We need to wrangle some DNS settings to get this fixed, hopefully within a few hours.)

New Bits!

A few hours ago we released a couple of new bits and pieces we thought it was worth mentioning.

First, we’ve re-arranged the way search results display so our search facets are more obvious, there’s a new cover view, and the pagination is tidier.

You’ve always been able to see facets on the search page, but we were trying to find a way to make them more exploratory and interactive – hopefully, this redesign is a start. So, you can click on a facet to narrow your search, then another, and another. It starts to get interesting when you remove previously selected facets from the search, and begin to move sideways through the catalogue. (The team has wasted some hours playing with this!)

As I was bouncing around, I found a few gems, including 6 digitized books about the Masai, written between 1857 and 1905, including the fascinating Vocabulary of the Enguduk Iloigob and Through Masai land: a journey of exploration among the snowclad volcanic mountains and strange tribes of eastern equatorial Africa.

There’s also Cookery recipes by St. Mary’s Guild, Mill Valley, California – just around the corner from us here in San Francisco – published in 1902 and available to read online. Pickles, Marmalades, Jellies, Preserves is “swooning in sweetness” on Page 71, and the scan is full of hand-written notes, as any good cookbook should be!

And, as NASA celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo mission, here’s a bit of Mars-related science fiction to whet your appetite. If you like space stuff, you’ll love the collection of fantastic 16mm videos shot on board Apollo, hosted over at nasaimages.org, another project of the Internet Archive.

The other cool thing that we released is integration with the new, improved book reader available on archive.org. Improvements include a one-page view, access to the full resolution of the original scan (in that one page view), and the ability to link into a specific page in a scanned book, just by grabbing the URL in the navigation bar whenever you’re looking at a certain page, like I did above to link to Page 71 of the cookery book. (The URL updates on the fly as you turn the pages – super cool!) There’s more information over at the Open Content Alliance blog.

We’d love to hear what you think of the new search results page, so please leave us a comment!