Thursday, April 03, 2008

Easily Lookup Books From Amazon At Your Local Library

I occasionally like to share some of the productivity hacks I use. This is one of them.

If you're a book lover, it's likely that you have overflowing shelves of books at home (yes, Tom...this means you! ;-). I decided a few years ago to pare down on my actual book buying and try to utilize the local library more often. Even so, I find myself on Amazon quite a bit (either via a blog link, a suggestion from a friend or just to see what's new). If I find something of interest but I'm not sure I want to purchase it, I'll check if it's available in the library catalog. Being a tech and productivity geek, I don't want to waste time having to lookup these books again. Fortunately, I don't have to. I've got The LibraryLookup Project bookmarklets for the two library systems in my area readily handy in my toolbar. When I find a book I like on Amazon, I simply select the bookmarklet and another window opens, displaying the book in the library catalog (if they have it).

Click to embiggen

If you're interested in the technical aspect of the bookmarklet, it uses regular expressions to retrieve the ISBN from the Amazon page and opens a new browser window to your library's online catalog system, passing the ISBN to the lookup form via the URL. The LibraryLookup Bookmark Generator allows you to set the base URL for your library system and determines how to construct the URL based on the software vendor that the library uses (hint: you can usually find this by going to the library online's generally listed on the page somewhere).

Invoking the bookmarklet is a simple process and allows me to do my library browsing from the comfort of home, all while utilizing the Amazon UI, which is really much nicer than the library's own software.

It's a great should check it out.


Mike said...

Also, to expand on that, worldcat has a bookmarklet that will look up all ISBN's for a book, and then let you search your local library for each -- that way you can find if your library may have a hardbound, vs. paperback, vs. large print versions, etc.

My public library was not listed, I submitted it to them, and within an hour I had a reply that they added it and they sent me a bookmarklet!

Great Stuff!!

Mike said...

Another thing I found was really cool -- I use Bookpedia ( on the Mac, and you can customize templates of how your books display - so I modified a template to use the WorldCat xISBN bookmarklet, and now I can keep track of what I've read, and a whishlist of books I want to read next -- and by clicking on the ISBN in Bookpedia I launch right into the OPAC search for my local library where I can then request the book, etc..

Sorry if I'm rambling, I just did all this in the past couple of weeks and didn't know anyone else with a similar interest/need to share with! :-)

Chris Blatnick said...

Very cool, Mike. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, my library system only allows one ISBN at a time, so it didn't work, but I was impressed with how fast they created the bookmarklet and made it available!