January 29, 2008

Browsing the Virtual New Bookshelf

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 4:51 pm

Allen County Public Library has a cool way to browse its “new books” section online. Superpatron Ed Vielmetti first coded a “wall of books” a couple of years ago, and Mike Cunningham wrote a book cover browser for the 2006 Talis Mashing up the Library Contest, but this is the first public library implementation I’ve seen of something like this.

Books We Added to the Catalog Yesterday
Allen County Public Library Wall of New Books

Personally, I’d prefer to go straight to the catalog record when I click on a cover, but this is a great way to translate some of the warm fuzzies surrounding physical books in our buildings to our online catalogs. As someone who never goes to my home library for new books because they are embargoed from checkout for a week (even when I am holding them in my hand), this would be a far easier way for me to browse new books remotely without having to strain my eyes reading through three hundred lines of text. As a user (not a librarian), I’d also love to see the summary of the book appear in a mouseover and have this list broken out by genre. If my library offered these things and threw in NetFlix-style delivery, they’d have a devoted follower for life.


  1. I agree with you that a mouseover summary would make the experience more like real browsing. However, rather than a generic summary, I would prefer to see what is actually written in the “front flap” of the book cover. This would really make it very similar to browsing a shelf in person. I also think that having an RSS feed of new books by genre would be great (and one for DVDs, also). Having a page (and RSS feed) for new large print items would be especially helpful to older adults who can not browse for long periods in the stacks.

    Comment by Isabelle Fetherston — January 30, 2008 @ 10:04 am

  2. Just FYI, the current version of the book cover browser is accessible from this page on our site:

    Comment by Mike — January 30, 2008 @ 10:53 am

  3. Actually, lots of libraries use software that publishes their new book lists with book jackets and details (a popular and inexpensive one is available from Bookletters, example at http://www.supportlibrary.com/nl/users/fppl/web/nl_2.html) and, all last year, the Westmont public library did an awesome job of taking a snap of their new bookshelf, posting it to Flickr, and then linking all the books back to the catalog. Looks like it’s not being continued, though, which is too bad! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/westmontlibrary/sets/72157594145214590/)

    Comment by Rebecca — January 30, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  4. I think Westmont was unable to maintain the new bookshelf on Flickr because it was so time-intensive. I should have been more specific that the great thing about ACPL’s wall is that it’s generated automatically from work the staff is already doing. Huge time-saver!

    Comment by jenny — January 30, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

  5. Gotcha! You’re right, an automatic generation DOES make it that much cooler. Wonder if some catalog vendor might pick up on the idea in the future??

    Comment by Rebecca — January 31, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

  6. I’ve been looking into this for a little bit – the coverflow idea that is. I think it would be pretty easy to take the RSS feed of a catalog (w/ covers) and edit it to only show the cover. Maybe Yahoo! Pipes could be used for this…
    Here’s my post: http://www.thecorkboard.org/library-technology/itunes-and-coverflow-need-a-place-in-your-library
    p.s. thanks for speaking at Dominican tonight!

    Comment by Kyle J. — February 4, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

  7. […] from Allen County Library […]

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  9. I’ve just built a site that is very similar in functionality, the focus is on cataloging books online. We provide a summary box for every cover on mouse over. I’d love to hear feedback on the site. Great blog.
    Cheers, Jeremy

    Comment by Jeremy LeBard — February 12, 2008 @ 5:28 am

  10. We use a randomizer to display new titles in our Downloadable Audio (Overdrive) Collection.
    Instead of making the Jacket clickable, we opted to provide links to
    “Listen to an Excerpt” and “Get This Audio Book.”

    Comment by Dave — March 19, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  11. […] → Summary of book upon mouseover (with the option to turn off) [idea credit: Jenny Levine] […]

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  13. […] Browsing the Virtual New Bookshelf – The Shifted Librarian As someone who never goes to my home library for new books because they are embargoed from checkout for a week this would be a far easier way for me to browse new books remotely without having to strain my eyes reading through three hundred lines of text. (tags: libraries interactiondesign jennylevine shiftedlibrarian) […]

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