why I’d try an API

A few neat announcements in libraryland concerning data or connectors being made more open and available. These two examples may not seem as linked as they are.

  • LibraryThing releases (sort of) (almost) a million book covers, free for your use, under most circumstances. You can also cache the covers locally as long as you don’t do it in such a way that you support LT competitors. While I understand why this isn’t linked with the Open Library project, I’d love to see it get there in the future sometime. update: John Miedema reminds me in the comments that I’d meant to also link to the openbook WordPress plugin for people using WordPress.
  • WorldCat released their search API over the weekend. As with many OCLC things, this is great news for their member libraries and not that great for anyone else, but it’s a real step towards letting (their) people get at their data, not just their web pages. You can get some details, in slightly dense format, on this page.

2 Responses to “why I’d try an API”

  1. John Miedema Says:

    For anyone interested in linking to Open Library covers, and who uses WordPress (as many libraries do) there is my “OpenBook WordPress plugin”. It is free and open source, which you can view the code and modify it. There are no limitations and no costs. It has as many covers as there are in Open Library. Enjoy.

  2. Tim Says:

    “I’d love to see it get there in the future sometime.”

    It may. OL and LT had originally planned to do this together. It just didn’t happen—fault on both sides—and meanwhile we started using the API internally. Eventually I just decided to expose it to the outside. If, as I expect, OL eventually starts serving covers in a similar way, we’ll probably the join the effort.