Monday, July 16, 2007

Open Library

I haven't had much of a chance to explore this yet, but the Internet Archive has announced a demo of its Open Library project:

It aims to be an open catalog of works in print. It's a wiki of sorts, where users can edit the metadata in the catalog. If a work is available online, there can be a link to it. Cover images can be added, and summaries, reviews, and in some cases the first chapter.

From their site:

It would take catalog entries from every library and publisher and random Internet user who is willing to donate them. It would link to places where each book could be bought, borrowed, or downloaded. It would collect reviews and references and discussions and every other piece of data about the book it could get its hands on.

But most importantly, such a library must be fully open. Not simply "free to the people," as the grand banner across the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh proclaims, but a product of the people: letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data. In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it's more important than ever to be open.
The metadata follows their own schema, transformed from MARC and other formats. They're gathering records from everywhere they can. I don't know how much people will edit metadata, but I expect we'll see people enrich data with links and subjects. They've linked to OCA books in the demo, as well as to buying options. I assume that this service will include links to other available digital versions.

Check out the guided tour at

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