November 16, 2006

OU Library Traveller - Title Lookup

A couple of people have got in touch recently about the OU Library Traveller Scripts that pop up library info panels on Amazon et al. book pages (I'll mail you soon - I promise...;-) and it prompted me to dust off a script I started to doodle with a bit ago to deal with the multiple ISBN problem... know the one - where the book you're looking at on Amazon is held by the library, but in a different format or edition, and hence under a different ISBN, which is used to key the script.

Jon Udell posted a Greasemonkey script that will search the catalogue using xISBNs - that is, equivalent ISBN numbers for a particular book identified via OCLC's xISBN service (he could also have used the LibraryThing ThingISBN service).

But that's all a bit too much like hard work for lazy old me...

Now, AI is (or used to be) my background, and in AI we use all sorts of heuristics (rules of thumb) and shortcuts for getting things to work, and sometimes they even work to a "good enough" QoS level;-) I haven't started on an AI solution yet (! - and don't intend to...;-), but here's a crude heuristic - if the library holds the book under a different ISBN, maybe it'll find it if I search by title?

The OU Traveller scripts are intended to work on sites wherever there is an ISBN in the URL, so scraping the title off an arbitrary site is hard. That's not a problem, though, because we can use an Amazon web service to look up the title of a book from its ISBN, which is what the new script does.

If a book can't be found in your library catalogue using the ISBN, the script then offers to do a title (or author) search. (The next time I revisit this script I will build the title lookup to run automatically and report holding status back via the Traveller panel):


Clicking on the appropriate link then runs the relevant search on the library catalogue:


If you want to give the script a run on your own catalogue, the ISBN lookup will worth with very minor modifications (see Generic Library Traveller for more info) but you will need to dig around in the script - and play with URLs from your own library catalogue - to work out the title or author lookup. Mail me if you do this and we can collect customisations on a wiki somewhere.

Maybe, if there is enough (any?!) interest, I'll look at ways of making the title lookup generic for different vendor catalogues on a case by case basis.

Anyway - enough of that: the script is here: Generic Library Traveller with OU Book Title lookup.

There are potential conflicts with previous installations/versions of the Library Traveller scripts, so you may have to pay a visit to the Greasemonkey control panel in your browser to disable previous versions.

If you are trusting of compiled Greasemonkey scripts (that is, Firefox extensions generated from Greasemonkey scripts), and/or would rather not install Greasemonkey, feel free to create your own extension from the script (e.g. using the Arantius Greasemonkey compiler).

I do not accept any liability whatsoever if anything goes wrong, of course ;-)

Posted by ajh59 at November 16, 2006 01:51 PM