Friday, September 24, 2004

Library Lookup Bookmarklets

For those slightly technically inclined... (in other words, it's not hard, but you have to be somewhat familar with your web browser. Don't worry, it takes a lot longer to describe it than to do it.)

A new tool allows you to find a book on a book site like Amazon, then check to see what local libraries have it. You will need to have the javascripting active in your browser. (See your Help menu. Most browsers have it active automatically.) Go to this page,
and find either your local library (CSU can be searched with the Conn St Lib one) or the Open WorldCat pilot in the list. The text below will use the Open WorldCat pilot as the example, but it works very similarly for other catalogs.
  • For most Windows browsers, right click on the link and select Bookmark the Link, Add to Favorites, or whatever selection will allow you to add a link to your Bookmarks/Favorites collection in the browser that you use.
  • For Mac users (I haven't tried these on a Mac, but it may work), you would hover the mouse pointer over the link until you get the function menu, then use the add to bookmarks selection. (I will try this on a Mac and update this post.)
  • You may also be able to click (and hold) and drag the link to the links bar of the browser (if it's open). This is Links in IE, Bookmarks or Personal Toolbar in Netscape and Mozilla, etc.
That's all the installation necessary. Now find a book in a website that includes ISBN's in the URL. This would include, Barnes and Noble,, or even the weblog-watching This may work on other sites as well (I've tried it on, which would be handy for out of print books, but it only works sometimes). Here is the Amazon record for a book found in many libraries in the U.S. :
The ISBN is 0375414576. Click on this link, then click on the bookmark/favorite/link you just installed. (Or find your own favorite book, then click on the bookmark.) You should get a Google search for the book (this will also include audio-books). If there are many different editions of the book, you will see several ISBN's, or groups of ISBN's in the left hand panel. You can expand your search by clicking on anther ISBN/group.

When you click on one of the Google records you should get a screen asking for a postal code, state, province, or country. Put in your local code, etc., so that WorldCat can identify libraries that are local to you. WorldCat will remember what you entered and you will only have to enter it once (this probably needs to have cookies active in your browser). Click Go.

You should now see a list of nearby libraries that have the book. Very common books will have many local libraries. Less common books will have only a few libraries and they may be farther away. Truely rare books may only have a couple of libraries worldwide or none listed. Not all local libraries have there holdings in OCLC's WorldCat, so you may want to check your local library separately, either via their own catalog, or through the original Library Lookup.

I did find one way to make this work when you find a book in a library catalog (sometimes). Find your book and find the ISBN in the record. This is usually in the full record, but in some catalogs you might have to look in the MARC display if there is one available. Copy the ISBN down. Now go back to the search page and find a numbers search. This may be in the advanced search depending on the particular setup. Search by ISBN. Because library catalogs usually have the search terms in the URL for the results, you should be able to use the bookmarklet. This does work in CONSULS.

If you are interested in this type of technology, here are several links:

Special thanks to and Library Stuff for updates on this.

Update (10/04/04): A new alternative search includes the basic Library Lookup as an option. Be sure to choose the library in Settings first, before you do a search in Amazon Light 4.0.

Update (10/12/04): More on this in a later post: More on Library Lookup, Google, Yahoo, and OCLC.


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