There is a free add-on to the Firefox browser
called Book Burro
which does something very interesting: it senses when you are searching for a book on the Web, gives you the prices from several online bookstores, and tells you if the book is available at your library (for now it only works at a select few libraries, but soon ,they promise, you will be able to customize it for your own local library).
Let's imagine I'm searching Amazon and I come across The Enduring Library by Michael Gorman and I think Now there is a book I have got to read
. I'm about to Add to Shopping Cart
but instead I glance up at Book Burro and I see that the Seattle Public Library
has a copy of it. With one click it takes me not only to the SPL catalogue but specifically to the record for The Enduring Library, which confirms that the book is available. So I put the credit card back in the wallet and I head to the library--bad for MG and Amazon, perhaps, but good for me and the SPL.
Seems pretty great, no? But I wonder if there are other implications. What is stopping a reader in Seattle, for instance, from searching Amazon instead of the SPL OPAC? This is, in a way, the opposite of attempts by librarians to catalogue the Web to be searchable in library catalogues. Perhaps in the future we wont even go to the OPAC to find library resources; we'll go to Google OPAC or somesuch. And we'll put up with the advertisements because it will work. Of course none of this would be an issue if OPAC design was not so outdated...but that's a subject for another day.
The Book Burro site
doesn't say much about the technology behind it. Anybody care to enlighten me on how it works?