Open Library has a new site
March 17, 2010 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Open Library has a new collaborative open source website that aims to catalog every book ever published. About the project. The vision is one Wiki page for every edition of every work with description details.
posted by stbalbach (14 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
New Features announcement.
posted by stbalbach at 9:36 PM on March 17, 2010

The source, for hacker-types (based off of infogami?)
posted by tmcw at 9:58 PM on March 17, 2010

(based off of infogami?)

The infogami site says "Actual applications (like Open Library) are written by extending Infogami through two layers: plugins and templates."
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on March 17, 2010

Can someone explain the use case? At the moment, a lot of their entries are from WorldCat, a fine worldwide library catalog.

Why would I want to put in books from my personal library when LibraryThing style social tools are more focused toward fun + discovery. Why would I as an actual library want to put in books from my catalogue if they already suck in worldcat data?
posted by honest knave at 12:19 AM on March 18, 2010

Although Open Library does link to WorldCat from its book pages, I'm pretty sure it doesn't import data from WorldCat. Open Library only imports metadata from libraries that make their data publicly available without restriction.
posted by rajbot at 12:41 AM on March 18, 2010

honest knave: Not all libraries are in WorldCat - and they have to pay a subscription fee to have their holdings made publicly available by WorldCat.

So I guess it's possible that Open Library would pick up data from libraries that had chosen not to subscribe to WorldCat.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:45 AM on March 18, 2010

WorldCat tells you where you can find a book. Which is nice, but not the only thing I might want to know.

LibraryThing tells you who likes a book. Again, nice, but not the only thing I might want to know.

OpenLibrary gives you information on the book itself including in many cases the text. Perhaps not what you want to know either, but probably a good canonical link when discussing a book.
posted by DU at 6:04 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

That said, it isn't that functional yet. Slow, incomplete, unclear GUI. I definitely want something like this, but it needs to be better before I'll use it.
posted by DU at 6:05 AM on March 18, 2010

This could be my ultimate dreamiest academic dream. A virtual library. With every f*cking book in it.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:46 AM on March 18, 2010

Can someone explain the use case?

1. OpenLibrary is an open source alternative to commercial databases. Two years ago there was a lot of controversy behind WorldCat, owned by OCLC - since it owns the records, it could deny access to any organization that uses them. Since it's pretty much the only game in town, it represents a real monopoly. OCLC has withdrawn its position so all is good again, but clearly this incident showed the world needs a free and open source database that is not controlled by a corporation with monetary interests first.

2. Anyone can edit the database not just librarians so it holds the potential to be the Wikipedia vs Britannica of book cataloging.

3. I suspect its feature set is still very minimal and over time it will grow to become a much more useful tool. Right now they are getting the basics down, which is no small project.
posted by stbalbach at 8:17 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Warning to anyone who signs up: Open Library's email verification system will email you your password in clear text, so you may want to pick a throwaway password the first time around and change it later.
posted by christopherious at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2010

Is this a double?
posted by Pronoiac at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2010

Getting lots of nice bells and whistles, but still a long way off from being a real replacement for WorldCat
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2010

WorldCat tells you where you can find a book.

IF [and this is a big if] you live near a lot of libraries who subscribe. I don't. When I want to find a copy of Jane Eyre, Worldcat tells me to go to New Hampshire even though there are probably ten closer libraries who have it. They could easily have given some sort of location-awareness ability to non-subscribing libraries, but this bites into their revenue stream. The Open Library project is built on top of publicly available data and you can put data in and take it out freely. Totally different animal. Exciting idea.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

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