Easy Access to Digitized Books

Over on the Developer’s Network blog, where I sometimes blog as well as other colleagues involved with OCLC Grid Services, Xiaoming Liu posted something that I think deserves much wider attention than the two readers that blog normally has (Hi Mom!).

In a nutshell, he describes how easy it can be to find out if a particular book is openly available in full-text by using the xOCLCNUM Web Service, which is free to OCLC cataloging subscribers (also known as “governing members”). According to his calculation, by using FRBR principles to collect related works, there are now nearly 2.5 million titles discoverable through this service that are available from the Internet Archive and the Hathi Trust.

So how does it work? Easy as pie. For example, this URL:

http://xisbn.worldcat.org/webservices/xid/oclcnum/51848364?method=getEditions&library=ebookfl=oclcnum,url&format=txt

Would retrieve a result like this:

465222    http://www.archive.org/details/lifeexploitsofin02cerviala
4730463    http://www.archive.org/details/ingeniousgentlem02cerv

If multiple URLs exist for same OCLC number, they are separated by a space. I’ve never been employed as a computer programmer but even I can hit this softball out of the park. Grab the OCLC numbers of library catalog search results, query the xOCLCNUM service, and for any that match, drop a link to the digital versions right on the search result screen.

Easy as pie. Like falling off a log. Piece of cake. So why are you still hanging around here?

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About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.