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Thursday, 6th May 2010

Impressive! The Open Library Relaunch is Complete

"One Page for Every Book," is the motto of The Open Library (an initiative of the Internet Archive). George Oates, Project Leader and Designer, posted on The Open Library Blog last night that the relaunch is complete.

From The Open Library Blog Post

Please be aware there are a few features which have been put on ice temporarily – full text search and managing the site in multiple languages for example. We want to devote proper attention to improving those features as soon as we can. They will return!

Of course, The Open Library is tweeting and and you can follow them here. They also have a couple of e-mail discussion lists including one titled, Ol-lib -- Open Library -- librarianship discussion.

A "soft launch" of this release of The Open Library went live in mid-March of this year. Here's our post.

The Open Library is home to over about 20 million records and it was on March 31st when we mentioned that the Internet Archive had just passed the two millionth digital text mark.

The March, 2010 blog post has more but here are some of the things to be looking for when now that the relaunch is official.

+ Revamped Search Technology

The advanced interface offers a number of options including the ability to search by: publisher; place; ISBN; subject; and others. Here's a search for the place:london (yes, there is syntax too) and its results page. Really nice.

We like how it's very easy to identify titles (look for the book icon) that you can access online with a single click and immediately start reading by clicking on the icon. Here's an example). Very impressive and super easy to use. Of course, numerous ways of refining results in the right column. For example, you can remove eBooks from the results set with a single click.

Instead of clicking the book icon we clicked on the title and a lot of info appears. For newer books that cannot be read online, here's a results page for a John Grisham title. While they could always use more date (and we can all help) they still have a nice sized list of subjects and locations for The Client. They also list 24 versions of the book with just about every entry offering direct links to WorldCat and to four book merchants (Alibris, Amazon, Biblio.com, and Powells. As they note on their homepage. The Open Library is also a wiki so adding, correcting, and editing records can be done at any time.

Some titles are also available for the print disabled.

Older books are available from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted DAISY [a format used by the print disabled to convert text into audio] library and modern books can be accessed by “qualified users” through their NLS key — an encrypted code provided by the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), that is dedicated to providing materials to the print disabled. Currently, over 800,000 people in the US are registered with the Library of Congress as being print disabled.

+ Subject Pages

Part of creating the new subject pages involved:

...breaking down of breaking down and reconstructing the subject headings on our records, giving each heading a URL, and displaying a whole bunch of data about each heading: works about that subject, publishing history, related subjects, authors who write about it, and publishers who publish in that subject area.

Here is example for "Astronauts" (wow, the publishing history graph is cool!).

It's also neat to see the new additions to The Open Library as they flow into the database.

Need assistance building your search? Here are two searchable database that might help.

+ Search the Database of Subjects
+ Search the Database of Authors

+ Works

We’re excited to release Works, which helps catch all editions of the same book and collect them all under this one umbrella. Each work also has its own URI too – we’re hoping these propagate.

This portion of the blog post goes on to say that the Open Library team realizes that this area is "imperfect" with "a lot of dupes." Hopefully, they were able to make some headway in this area during the soft launch.

It's also worth mentioning that every user can have a personal page. This is also the case for authors. For example, here's Cory Doctorow's author page.

Finally, we were happy to see a link from LibraryThing to The Open Library on the LibraryThing "all sources" page. We wonder if any plans are in the works for these two organizations to work together.

UPDATE: We've learned that The Open Library Team and LibraryThing will be doing some work together. In fact, LibraryThing Founder and Developer, Tim Spalding, has already sent a massive mapping file map The Open Library so the OL database can become aware of LibraryThing. Finally, LT has been using Open Library for some time to get e-book info and other data. So, LT is already aware of OLID's (Open Library Id's). You can see an OLID in the url/OL10487276M and here along with other id's. The number is unique to this specific item.

You'll also see that The Open Library is sharing data with Goodreads. A unique Goodreads ID is below the ISBN's on this page. Click it and you'll go that precise entry in the Goodreads database.

We'll conclude for now (we'll be writing more about The Open Library in the near future) that in just over two hours of using the database, we've gone from skeptical and "that could be useful" to impressed and looking forward to sharing the database with others.

Well done George and to the entire Open Library team.

Btw, two members of the team are legends in the library world. First, Brewster Kahle, is the "Overseer" at The Open Library. He's also the Founder of The Internet Archive and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Also, Karen Coyle is "Metadata Czar" at The Open Library. Plus shes a consultant; formerly at the California Digital Library; writer/blogger/speaker and more.

Remember, the soft launch is literally just ending and we think The Open Library is only going to get better. Oh yes, one more thing. You can add books to The Open Library collection. Details here. They are also having a book drive.

See Also: The Open Library FAQ (Very Useful)

See Also: About the Librarianship at The Open Library

See Also: Official News Release

Sources: The Open Library Blog, ResourceShelf, LibraryThing

Views: 2163




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