Keeping up with Google Books and new front-end possibilities
Last week, I started working on my work plan without settling on a useful way of visualizing it. However, I did manage to extract three issues for which I need to choose a way forward because I don’t yet know how I will execute the desired feature.
I think I might have found the solution to my third conundrum as I was working on this blog post, so I’ll address it in another. For now, I will put my first two quandries out in the world to get the ball rolling on finding solutions:
- How to balance the desire for cool new features in the interface with the need for sustainability?
- How to keep track of new digitized books?
Interface: the risk of dependencies
I need to do more research to find inspiration and decide which route to take to make the interface responsive (mobile-friendly), and maybe enhance browsing using filters (faceted search). My main issue with both is finding solutions without too many dependencies.
I tried sending out a tweet on 9 September regarding filters and faceted search but only got a response from Awesome Table saying lots of people use the work-around I found:
Ever since @alextheknitter introduced us to her database Bibliotecas Privadas de Navarra at #SharpFriday, I’ve been amazed by the clean layout of interactive filters offered by @Awesome_Table.
I’d like this type of faceted search for Price One Penny.
However, Price One Penny is a PHP website based on a MySQL database. I could use @Awesome_Table, but I’d need to go through an API to spit the MySQL tables into Google Spreadsheets.
They seem like cumbersome dependencies. Any more straightforward routes?
I’m thinking maybe a Facebook publication would stir up more useful conversations and correspondents to talk through the balance to be had between:
- nice shiny things and their depencencies; and
- open-source libraries with less features but easier maintenance.
Ongoing digitization and the difficulties keeping up
I need to establish how I’m going to find the new digital surrogates that have appeared since basically 2012. I assume I will use the same process to keep the list up-to-date. I reached out to Melodee Beals last week to see if she had any advice but she has not had time yet to get back to me.
So here’s the situation: I searched manually for library-held copies between 2010 and 2012 on worldcat and COPAC (now Library Hub Discover, not quite as compact). I recorded the library and the classmark for each copy, but not the OCLC (which should be a work-level ID, but in the case of my books, it can be an edition-level ID or even just a copy-level ID, as in the case of BL copies).
At the same time as I was searching for the titles of penny bloods in these aggregated catalogues, I was searching for them in Google Books, HathiTrust, and Internet Archive. I recorded their IDs on these services.
In the last 8 years, unsurprisingly, many more copies have been digitized. The British Library even launched its own in-house digitization service. I have previously asked their metadata team if I could provide them with a list of classmarks and they tell me if they’ve been digitized and provide me the ID of the digital surrogate, but I was told no.
My main questions are:
- Are there any APIs to access the metadata of these repositories of digitized books?
- If there aren’t, how receptive would the repositories be to me asking:
- to check whether certain titles in certain libraries they’ve been working with have been digitized?
- to keep me posted in the future when certain titles get digitized?
- If there’s no way to access their data directly and they don’t wanna check for me, where can I learn how to use Python to automatically search these repositories for the titles in my database to periodically find new digital surrogates?
One of the difficulties is that I doubt that the repositories store the information I use as a unique identifier for each book: its classmark (“call number” in North America). I now know these are neither stable nor unique, but I currently know of no other universal system to identify a book within a library (or even better: across libraries).