Implementing the Google Book Search API at Library Wageningen UR

Last Thursday Google announced the Book Search API officially. That created some excitement in the Dutch Library world as well. The public library at Delft -those DOK boys from the Shanachie Tour– has implemented it in their catalog using the static linking options to Google Books.

Our application developers were also very interested in this new toy and made a first step of implementation for the books in our catalog based on the ISBN numbers available. Where we had Amazon book covers already available, kept these (eg. The genetic diversity of cacao and its utilization), on many occasions we already linked to the fulltext of books but could now include the Google Book cover to the catalog as well (eg: Return to resistance : breeding crops to reduce pesticide dependence). However the most interesting cases are of course those books available at the library, but which have now fulltext links through Google Books as well (eg: Illustrated guide to integrated pest management in rice in tropical Asia).

We have not reached the full potential of fulltext linking to Google Books yet. Our current implementation is based on ISBN only. So all books before 1965 have not yet been linked to Google Books. Our problem is quite simple, in the Netherlands we are not using OCLC numbers in the Central Dutch Catalog, albeit PICA is currently 100% part of OCLC. We are using Pica Production Numbers instead. So we have inquired in Leiden (OCLC the Netherlands), and they are inquiring in Dublin (OH) to get at PPN to OCLC conversion table or whatever. After we have resolved this little problem we van continue to link the older books as well.

Another problem we encountered is that the GB API results into spam warnings quite quickly and requires you to fill out a captcha. With the GB API implemented at in our catalog we run at the university quite quickly into problems. All traffic from the university has the same IP address, that of the firewall, which Google identifies quite quickly as illegal activity. I suspect other universities will experience similar problems. At home however, it works swell.

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