Jul 16

Peter Brantley

Peter Brantley

Open Library launches in demo

The Open Library, an effort from the Internet Archive that aims to make available a database of all books, with as many available for free access as possible, has been launched in a demo / beta mode.

The Open Library is built as a structured wiki, and is intended, as the site says, to be "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."

The Open Library's About Us page closes with a precis of the IA's motivations.

Earlier this year, a small group of people gathered at Internet Archive's San Francisco office to discuss whether this was possible. Could we build something so grand? We concluded that we could. We located a copy of the Library of Congress card catalog, phoned publishers and asked them for their data, created a brand new database infrastructure for handling millions of dynamic records, wrote a new type of wiki that lets users enter structured data, set up a search engine to look through it all, and made the resulting site look good.

We hooked it up to the Internet Archive's book scanning project, so that you can read the full text of all the out-of-copyright books they've made available. And we hope to add a print-on-demand feature, so that you can get nice paper copies of these scanned books, as well as a scan-on-demand feature, so you can fund the scanning of that out-of-copyright book you've always loved.

But we can only do so much on our own. Hopefully we've done enough to make it clear that this project is for real -- not simply another pie-in-the-sky idea -- but we need your help to make it a reality. So we're opening up the demo we've built so far, opening up the source code, opening up the mailing lists, and hoping you'll join us in building Open Library. It sure is going to be a fun ride.

The ThingDB database framework is quite interesting, with the data model built on "things." (Really!)

tags: publishing  | comments: 3   | Sphere It

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Comments: 3

  Make Money With Blog [07.17.07 01:35 AM]

Sure this is an enormous project but internet user community will support this new era of information technology. This is a great mission you guys are working on. I heard about it before in few places but havn't seen the real features until now. It's still hard to believe the whole world of knowledge soon will be virtual.

  monopole [07.17.07 10:36 AM]

The present demo is utterly beautiful, well implemented, and utterly useless. In the absence of advanced search features it is next to impossible to divide books by Shakespeare from books about him to give an example. The book viewing mode is practically unreadable, while the navigation ranges from page by page to seemingly random hops, and the print option transfers ridiculously large PDF image files, which are useless on anything other than a full out PC. While the text is searchable the text files are unavailable making quotation, note taking, and lexical analysis next to impossible.

A truly useful design would be much closer to Citeseer with an improved search engine and text and RTF transfer. The other critical element is the need for open layered footnotes, allowing texts to have multiple layers of commentary and reference.

  webchick [07.17.07 05:43 PM]

Hi, monopole - Thanks for the feedback. Open Library is working towards a lot of the features you describe, and opened up the demo so more people could get involved and help build it. The great thing about it is that anyone can create templates. You can find out more at

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