The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Son of LibraryLookup Bookmarklet

Matt Croydon dove into Debbie's request for an AmazonLookup Bookmarklet, going one better to also create a Barnes & Noble Lookup Bookmarklet. Thanks, Matt!

Art also notes that Chris Sauve offers Amazon Bookmarklets, too!

Jon is still running with the concept (kudos and big thanks to him), and today he highlights the problems using ISBNs as identifiers. He goes on to ask:

"I wonder if there's a need for a Web service to solve this. Given an ISBN (for, say, a mass market paperback), it would map from species to genus, collect all species in the genus, and return a lists of ISBNS (paperback, hardcover, audiocassette, etc.)

Should Amazon implement such a service? We live in such interesting times!"

A web service is an intriguing idea, but I'd rather see librarians implement and maintain it, rather than a commercial entity. OCLC's WorldCat seems like a logical place to start, except for the fact that they charge for access to it. Do we have any other candidate databases that could be the foundation for such a project (LOC?...)?

All of this work inspired Greg at the Travis Unified School District to create a title lookup using ASP and VBS pages for his School's Follett catalog. This one appears to work on Macs, too, so kudos to him!

On a side note, it turns out my SWAN toolbar isn't working after all. I could have sworn I was able to search from it, but now I can't. The problem seems to be the syntax for the search argument sent from the toolbar into the Innovative catalog. So far, I've tried all of the following, but none of them work:

If anyone can figure out what syntax I should plug into my Ultrabar, I'd be eternally grateful. Alternatively, can anyone help me hack Dave's Quick Search Deskbar (as suggested by another Greg)? Thanks!

11:18:39 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

DMCA Harms and CSS as an Access Control Device

"One of Lawmeme's editors, Ernest Miller, has submitted comments to the Library of Congress pertaining to the harm that DMCA does to consumers versus the benefits to the media and content industries. The purpose of these comments is to assist in seeking a DMCA excemption for the CSS access control device. If you are not familiar with excemptions under the DMCA, you should read up on Seth Finkelstein's piece, How To Win (DMCA) Exemptions And Influence Policy. If you are not familiar with CSS, then I encourage you to read up at Harvard's OpenLaw: Open DVD site....

Our submission is available in in PDF format by clicking here [PDF]. WARNING: This document is almost 500k." [LawMeme: Legal Bricolage for a Technological Age]

11:00:26 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Congressman Set to Introduce Legislation to Address Constitutional Concerns About the USA Patriot Act

"Vermont Congressman Bernard Sanders will be holding a press conference on Friday, December 20, at 11:00 a.m., at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont, to announce his plans to introduce legislation that eliminates what he believes are unconstitutional provisions in the USA Patriot Act. Joining Sanders at the press conference will be Karen Lane, president of the Vermont Library Association (VLA); past VLA president Trina Magi; and Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vermont, and president of the New England Booksellers Association (NEBA).

Sanders' announcement comes in response to a letter from members of VLA, sent to the congressman in November, which states that the Patriot Act contains provisions that 'undermine' Americans' constitutionally protected right to read and to access information without government interference." [Bookselling This Week, via Library Stuff]

Vermont librarians and constituents should contact Congressman Sanders and let him hear your support on this issue.

10:44:04 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Librarians Still Fighting For Patron Privacy

FBI's Reading List Worries Librarians

"New surveillance laws that have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain search warrants for library records have created a dilemma for librarians such as Strong: Should they unquestioningly help agents track what a patron has been reading, and perhaps help prevent a terror attack? Or should they resist, and try to protect individual liberties and the library's status as a haven of intellectual inquiry?

Few librarians across the nation say they have been approached by federal agents in the terrorism probe; Strong won't say whether the feds have visited him in Queens. But the questions raised by the FBI's increased authority have made political activists out of some librarians, who are filing lawsuits against the Justice Department and lobbying Congress in a growing debate over whether American values are being trampled in the name of homeland security.

At issue is the USA Patriot Act, the post-Sept. 11 legislation approved by Congress that, among other things, gave federal agents broad new powers to spy on people in this country. Under the Patriot Act, the FBI no longer has to show a judge that it has probable cause to believe that a person under surveillance has committed a crime to get a search warrant for a library's circulation records or computer hard drives, or a bookstore's sales records.

Now, an agent merely must convince the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that such records could aid a terrorism probe. Along with the search warrant comes a gag order a judicial command to the record-keeper to tell nobody about the visit or else risk being prosecuted." [USA Today]

As I've noted in the past, this is a disturbing situation, and librarians are out there on the front lines trying to protect your right to privacy.

Having noted this, however, I will say that when I first read the headline on this article, I thought it meant that librarians were worried about what books the FBI was reading. Which we would be, except that we respect their right to privacy, too. But since they're not interested in fairness, I thought I'd try to track down what they're reading by visiting Amazon's purchasing circles but alas, there is no list for the FBI. Hmmmm....

9:28:50 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Audible Discussion List

Lori Bell has started a Yahoo Groups mailing list for libraries that are already circulating or are interested in circulating Audible titles. I'm a-joining now.

"Interested in offering digital audiobooks to your patrons? is working with 150 libraries throughout the country to offer digital audiobooks to patrons. If you are interested, join the new

electronic list to discuss policies, procedures, how-tos, and ideas for promoting digital audiobooks in your library! If you would like to join, go to and sign up. Matthew Fine, senior vice president of Enterprise, is a member of the list and can answer questions from a vendor perspective. You can sign up for a daily digest or individual messages."

8:56:07 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Debbie asks, "So, today I was checking out the latest books in my local OPAC (not Innovative, but CARLweb) and I wanted a bookmarklet that would lead me from the library entry to the Amazon page so I could read reviews and see what the book was about.  That ISBN is there in the URL--it's gotta work the same way, right?"

This should be pretty easy to do, but I don't know thing one about building Javascript bookmarklets. Jon's done all of the lifting here, heavy and otherwise. Unless someone pipes up that they've already done this, I'll play around with it tomorrow if I have time.

12:07:53 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |