OCLC's xISBN Service Could Affect Almost Any Book-Related Site

OCLC's xISBN Service Could Affect Almost Any Book-Related Site.

Thom Hickey from OCLC left a comment about their xISBN service, something I've been dying to discuss publicly but didn't think I could. Little did I know that they've got an entire project site for it available to anyone and everyone! (Emphasis below is mine.)

“xISBN supplies ISBNs associated with individual intellectual works represented in the OCLC WorldCat database. Give it an ISBN, and it returns a list of associated ISBNs….

The ISBNs returned from the service can in turn be re-used in an 'or' query to a bibliographic database to improve the chances of a user finding any/all instances of the work in a given database. So a user finding an item of interest at Amazon (for example) could conveniently query his/her local library online catalog to find out if any editions or printings (hardback or paperback, first printing or third printing, and even cases where various titles have been used) of the item are held by the library.

As an experimental project of OCLC Research, this service is available without charge or guarantee. Access does not require registration or authentication. OCLC reserves the right to modify or discontinue the service without prior notice. The xISBN server is believed to be stable, have good uptime, and to have the capacity to handle a reasonably high volume of requests without a significant degradation of response time or service failures, but OCLC does not guarantee service levels for experimental systems.

To use the xISBN service, enter the following URL into your browser window:


substituting an actual ISBN for [ISBN]. For example, try:

(0441172717 is the ISBN for Dune, by Frank Herbert.)

The Library Lookup bookmarklet application modified to use the xISBN service is ideal for this. Try this:

Visit the OCLC bookmarklet project.

Add the xISBN bookmarklet for Seattle Public Library to your browser

Pull up the Amazon description for Harry Potter y la cámara secreta/ J.K. Rowling [Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in Spanish]

Invoke the Seattle Public Library xISBN bookmarklet.

The bookmarklet approach is one possible means of using the service, but any application that can generate and send a URL could be used with the xISBN web service.

In the past, when I've hinted about an ISBN lookup service, this is what I was referring to. It could be hee-uge and benefit library patrons, library staff, and web surfers in general. We've already seen how the LibraryLookup Bookmarklet can help patrons, but take a look at the very cool work Art Rhyno is doing to make life easier for himself and other staff at the Leddy Library.

Then increase the order of magnitude and think about non-library web services using xISBN. How about All Consuming for starters? The fancy new services in Office 2003 that link out to commercial sites like Amazon could also be localized to the user's own library, whether it be a school/academic library for a student, a corporate library for an employee, or the public library.

Tomorrow, I'm going to delve further into this and see what kind of a bookmarklet I can hack together for SWAN with my meager hack skills. I hope some of the techie folks in the non-library world pick up on this and run with it!  [The Shifted Librarian]

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