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The Bookshelf Project

What is The Bookshelf Project?

The Bookshelf Project is an initiative and a set of simple tools to help people share information on the web about the books they have on their bookshelves.

Why would people want to do this?

Lending and borrowing books is common amongst groups of people who share similar interests. In such a community there is a fairly high chance that if you need to borrow a particular book, then another member will have a copy. The difficulty is finding out which member of the community has it, without having to bother all of them with the question. The Bookshelf Project was originally conceived to solve this problem for staff working at the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University in the UK.

Is the project designed purely for universities?

No. Despite being developed initially for a university research department, the tools work with any types of books that are in print and have an ISBN or an EAN, and could be useful in a wide range of different situations. Reading groups, personal libraries, wish lists, and recommended reading lists for courses are just a few examples that spring to mind.

How do I get my own bookshelf?

At the moment it's a bit of a manual process, but fairly simple. First create a text file (using a text editor such as Notepad on Windows) that contains the ISBNs of your books, one per line. It should look like this. Secondly email that file to Tom Heath; he'll upload your file and create your Bookshelf link for you. We hope to make this process far simpler in the future, time allowing.

Will the world be able to see my bookshelf?

Yes, the details of the books on your bookshelf will be visible to anyone with access to the web. If you have books that you don't want others to know about, we suggest you don't list them in the text file of ISBNs.

How does it work? I want to know the technical stuff!

You provide a text file containing the ISBNs of books on your bookshelf. A PHP script then reads the text file, looks up each of the ISBNs using the Web Services API, collects all the results and displays them together in one list. If you're using a recent browser like Firefox then some XSLT code transforms the XML from Amazon into XHTML to provide a human readable version. If you're using an old browser you probably see garbage and should upgrade your browser.

Who is responsible for The Bookshelf Project?

The Bookshelf Project was conceived and implemented by Mark Gaved and Tom Heath, PhD students at the Knowledge Media Institute.

Existing bookshelves

My Bookshelf Tile

Every little project needs a tile, right? Add this to your home page and link it to your bookshelf.

My Bookshelf tile, for use on your home page

Planned Features

Some of the features we're planning to add.

Thanks to users for their suggestions. Contact Tom and Mark if you'd like to suggest more.

Other Bookshelf Projects