Posted on 22 January, 2009 By 12 Comments

Library Lookup Bookmarklet


Dana Porter Library (by Gary Simmons)

If I bought every book that interested me, I would have two problems. First, I would be totally broke. And second, I would have no more room in my apartment and would have to build a new house out of the books.

So, I am a heavy user of my local library. Plus, most books, especially fiction, I am never going to read again so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to purchase them. I do collect fairy tale collections and books about elephants but otherwise I really don’t need to own all the books I want to read.

This is where the xISBN Library Lookup Bookmarklet from WordCat comes in really handy. Any site that you are browsing for books (ahem Amazon) that has the ISBN in the URL will work with the bookmarket.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Search for your library
  2. Drag the link to your browser toolbar
  3. If you are like me and have a ton of stuff on your toolbar, you can shorten the name of the bookmarklet by right clicking on it and selecting properties. This is in Firefox. Maybe one of you can tell me how it’s done in other browsers.

  4. Search for a book in Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
  5. Click on the link for the book’s full description page.
  6. Click on the bookmarklet and the it will search your library’s catalog for that ISBN.
  7. If your library is like mine, you will then be able to reserve the book online and have it held at the branch of your choice.

If you library isn’t listed, you can email a request to have yours added. The form does ask for the OPAC base url, which is usually the URL of the catalog. If you aren’t sure, just contact the library and the librarian will tell you what it is.

Using this bookmarklet saves me money on books that I am only going to read once. It also makes me feel like I’m a high-tech user of the library ;-)

Plus, I have a Masters in Library Science (did you know that?) and I am big supporter of the public library.

photo credit: gsimmonsonca - Free Yourself from Accounting

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12 Responses to “Library Lookup Bookmarklet”

  • I don’t use my local library much because it stinks. But this is really awesome! And I knew about your Masters. ;-)

    Jim´s last blog post – Shuffle Karma

  • The service is actually really good and surprisingly fast. I am totally going to use this. I’ve been wanting to go to the library to get some novelas so I can brush up on my Spanish. Maybe then, I will actually read something other than dense programming books. :-)

    Shirley´s last blog post – Do You Edit Comments Visitors Leave On Your Blog?

  • @Jim – Yeah, you should move out of the ‘burbs. :-P

    @Shirley – Great! You should let yourself read for pleasure from time to time.

  • “I do collect fairy tale collections and books about elephants” – Kim, you are so funny.


    Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post – Breaking: Cosmo Magazine To Change Its Name

  • Hi Kim,

    Ah yes books, I think I am with you on this one in terms of not being able to buy every single one. Although I only read non-fiction and mostly wisdom related books which could all be referenced and thus good to have, let’s face it the money, the time…it just is not practical. So I am with you there.

    Unlike you I have not taken advantage of any libraries in ages. Not that I do not want to just have not made it a priority up to this point.

    So I love the service that you told us about here – that definitely makes getting books from the library more convenient. Thank you :)

    Evita´s last blog post – Sailing Through Life

  • What a fabulous find – and one more for my growing list of technologies that actively re-connect the online and offline worlds. Thank you!

  • @Vered – What’s funny? My interests or my honesty about them? ;-)

    @Evita – For me, it also helps that my library is between the subway and where I pick my daughter up so it is easy for me to pick up the books I have requested (on the two days they are open past 5pm).

    @rjleaman – Great! I hope your library system is listed.

  • My local library system is excellent. It allows you to borrow from the surrounding libraries. The best part is that you can return the books to your local library and they have a system for returning them. The catalog is online too. If there is a book that you want it can be placed on hold using the Internet.

    I’m a fan of public libraries too. I’m wondering how they’ll adapt in the digital age. I guess there will always be people who prefer regular books.

    Gennaro´s last blog post – 6 Steps To A Lucky Chinese New Year

  • @Gennaro – Our library system is a lot like that too – I can do almost everything online – well, except pick up the book.

    My library has a way of checking out digital audio books that stop working after a certain length of time – that’s some serious DRM. It isn’t a great system though – if I recall, the format only works with Windows and not on an iPod.

    I will always prefer regular books.

  • That sounds awesome, though the library that I go to doesnt have that many books. It’s pretty small. But I should check that out anyways.

    miss virtual reality´s last blog post – How To Add Meta Tags In Blogger-step by step

  • I have lived in about ten homes in the past five years or so and the worst part of it is that I have leave out some books when I move from one place to another. That’s why I was thinking of getting the Kindle, but I really can’t imagine myself wihtout books. Kindle will just not be the same. Sorry, for being a bit off-topic.

    Manshu´s last blog post – Interesting Reads – Jan 24, 2009

  • @Miss Virtual Reality – Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    Some library systems will borrow books for you from other systems through interlibrary loan. You could ask your library if they provide that service.

    @Manshu – I don’t think that is off topic :-)

    I used to move a lot too – every year for years. I didn’t have many belongings at that time. I think the Kindle is a good topic of discussion – if these devices become more common will the library adapt and provide resources for them?

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Kim Woodbridge is an accomplished Information and Technical Consultant specializing in the entire implementation of a WordPress based website including installation, theme design, upgrades, unique customizations and ongoing site maintenance.

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