Monday, September 11th, 2006

Put LibraryThing in your OPAC: Volunteers?

The pitch: Do you manage a library OPAC? Do you want to see what LibraryThing data would look like in it? I don’t want your time or effort. All I need is your permission to query your site from mine–with very respectful hit-throttling. Just don’t ban my IP and I’ll show you something different.

I’m particularly interested in Innovative Interfaces Millennium OPACs.

The backstory: A number of libraries have talked about or tried to put LibraryThing in their OPACs. One I was working with was going to put LibraryThing recommendations on book detail pages, but found it hard to bolt the two together from their side. LibraryThing provided APIs to its data, but the OPAC couldn’t handle the other side. (To remove recommended books not in the library they had run each book against a screen-scrape of their own catalog, which proved much too slow.) It was time to try it from the other side.

What I’ve been doing: I’ve been working on a LibraryThing/II mashup, hosted on LibraryThing and for experimental purposes only. The test screen-scraped the OPAC, added in relevant LibraryThing data–tags, recommendations, reviews, ratings, covers–and returned it. The test was page-by-page, so it generated no more traffic than if I were browsing around the OPAC by hand. But my IP got blocked anyway, presumably automatically.

Although I make no apologies for hitting a library website a hundred times, if I blogged about the effort, and Lib2.0 people visited, it might well generate a small spike in traffic. So, I’m looking for permission, or at least a casual promise to look the other way. You don’t need to sign anything, and you can deep-six the effort any time you like.


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