April 20, 2018

OSU's Book Genie: Open-Source Bound

During the LITA Mobile Computing Interest Group meeting at the ALA Midwinter, Oregon State University (OSU) Libraries’ director of emerging technology and services Evviva Weinraub and graduate student services coordinator Hannah Gascho Rempel unveiled a simple but effective website accessible on web browsers, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, called the Book Genie.

The site can randomly select titles from the OSU library collections—either from the entire collection, or from a drop-down menu of specific categories or lists, such as American Literature or Banned Books, or books by OSU-based authors or published by OSU Press. It then supplies the user with the book’s call number, location, and availability, as well as a brief summary and cover art when available. (Bibliographic data was added to the site’s hosted MySQL database from OSU’s Innovative Interfaces Millennium ILS and from LibraryThing accounts; cover images and book summaries are pulled from Google Books.) Users can then email or text the selection, or save it to a list and search further. It’s an easy way for the library to promote its collections.

The best part: Rempel told LJ that OSU plans soon to release the site’s code as open-source under a General Public License, which would allow other libraries to use it as well. Such openness is nothing new for OSU Libraries—it previously released its Library à la Carte content management system as open-source.

David Rapp About David Rapp

David Rapp (drapp@mediasourceinc.com) was formerly Associate Editor, LJ.