or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Overdrive is Spreading, and Libraries are Along for the Ride

   July 3rd, 2014 Brian Herzog

bing-overdriveThis seems like something that shouldn't be big news, but I think it's cool and long overdue.

I read on Go To Hellman one of those "finally..." posts - Eric had a great idea a long time ago, and now suddenly it's been implemented. The idea:

I imagined that popular websites would use fancy links to let their readers get books from their local libraries. And that search engines would prefer these links because their users would love to have access to their library books.

And now it seems that Overdrive is making this happen - in two ways:

  1. When you do an apparent book search Bing (like, the girl with the dragon tattoo book, the right sidebar has a "Read this book" section that includes preview & download links to Overdrive. It even suggests libraries based on your IP, so you can check it out - in my case, it guessed right with "Merrimack Vally Library Consortium"
  2. With the "read online" feature that was added to Overdrive during their last upgrade, people also have easy access to an excerpt. You can see it in the Bing example, and embedded in this Huffington Post book review (also with a "Get book" link)

Good stuff. Not exactly new - LibraryThing, WorldCat, and other book websites have been linking to libraries for years. But this really brings libraries to the forefront of your casual internet browser in a much bigger way - and it doesn't just link to a catalog record for a print item, it's immediate electronic gratification.

It's not everywhere yet - when I tested it tonight, the same search on Google had links to purchase the book from a variety of places, but none to libraries.

And also, these links only go to Overdrive, which, in many cases, is only a fraction of a library's electronic resources (which itself is only a fraction of our overall collection). Still, it's a start, and I'm excited.

Now we just need to get people to use Bing.



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Fun Big Brother-ish Tools

   September 11th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Here's two online tools I recently heard about, that provide information on people or places.

Information on People:
FundRace 2008: Type in a zip code (01824 [Chelmsford, MA]) or name (Gates, William), and the website lists 2008 political campaign donations, who they gave to, and how much.

Information on Places:
Zipskinny: Type in a zip code, and the website gives all kinds of demographic information (based on the 2000 census data). Also, you can type in up to 20 zip codes to compare locations in various categories (similar to one of my favorite city comparison websites, Sperling's Best Places), or see the top 100 zip codes for different categories (oldest, youngest, highest income, etc).

And who said public documents couldn't be fun?

demographic tools, demographics, fundrace 2008, huffington post, sperling's best places, zipskinny



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