Open Library Just Made My Week!

This is just one of those totally geeky librarian moments you’re about to read about.

Two days ago, the Open Library project announced a soft-launch of their new interface. The Open Library is an initiative of the Internet Archive with a goal to have one page for every book.

I am a fan of the Internet Archive; you may have noticed several blog posts of mine the past few weeks announcing resources I’ve located through IA.   It is a fantastic resource.  However, the navigability of books at the IA leave much to be desired.  The Open Library project helps overcome some of the limitations and is actively seeking to encourage collaboration.

Why does the new Open Library project make me so happy?  For awhile now I’ve longed for a way to contribute information so that we can all as researchers

  • be aware when a book exists in digital format online
  • contribute to lacking information about a book if we have additional data to add (e.g.  a PDF to the index, or list the Table of Contents)

I’ve sought this out via other means:

  • FamilyLink’s GenSeek (it’s current iteration as a Facebook App) did not meet my expectations.  Though I could link to the electronic location of the book online the record did not update to reflect it’s electronic status.
  • WorldCat.org has great potential and I’ve shared feedback with the development team there.  They think it’s a great idea; already partner with Google Books, and have explored how they can further work with the Internet Archive.  It’s just later on in their development cycle.

But, Open Library let’s me do it!  Check it out (pun intended, ha!).

Step 1: I do a search for a book that was recently added to the Internet Archive yesterday,  The Ingersolls of Hampshire: a genealogical history of the family from their settlement in America, in the line of John Ingersoll of Westfield, Mass. The book was added to the IA February 18th, 2010, but the Open Library record does not have it marked an e-book.  Nor does it indicate it can be borrowed from any library.  Well, guess what?  We can change it for Open Library is a wiki!!

Step 2: To edit the record to change it’s status as not an ebook and not able to borrowed,  you go in and edit the ID Numbers section.  Clicking on Edit brings up all the data about the book and on the tab labeled What’s It About? you can edit the ID Numbers section.  There is  a drop down list of options to choose from including “Internet Archive”  & “OCLC”.     Grab the ID number from the IA URL (the portion of the URL that comes after the /details/) and get the OCLC number from the WorldCat entry and add them to the information already there:

Step 3: Go to the bottom of the page and click Save and guess what happens?

The record is immediately changed and others will now know of it’s availability as an ebook and link to the WorldCat.org record to find it at a library.

Their new site logo says “Ever Wanted to Play Librarian? It’s Okay. We All Do.”  Well, I am a librarian and I naturally want to play librarian for genealogy resources.  Open Library just helped me accomplish that.   You may still be wondering why this means so much to mean, but believe me, this has implications and stirs up many ideas and potential uses.  Expect another blog post pretty soon from me outlining some of them.    This is Librarianship 2.0  and/or Genealogy 2.o at some of it’s finest if you ask me.   :-)

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