Searching The Vancouver Public Library Catalog using Amazon

A few months ago I posted about a number of civic applications I’d love to see. These are computer, iphone, blackberry applications or websites that leverage data and information shared by the government that would help make life in Vancouver a little nicer.

Recently I was interviewed on CBC’s spark about some of these ideas that have come to fruition because of the hard work and civic mindedness of some local hackers. Mostly, I’ve talked about Vantrash (which sends emails or tweets to remind people of their upcoming garbage day), but during the interviewed I also mentioned that Steve Tannock created a script that allows you to search the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) Catalog from the Amazon website.

Firstly – why would you want you want to use Amazon to search the VPL? Two reasons: First, it is WAY easier to find books on the Amazon site then the library site, so you can leverage Amazon’s search engine to find books (or book recommendations) at the VPL. Second, it’s a great way to keep the book budget in check!

To use the Amazon website to search the VPL catalog you need to follow these instructions:

1. You need to be using the Firefox web browser. You can download and install it for free here. It’s my favourite browser and if you use it, I’m sure it will become yours too.

2. You will need to install the greasemonkey add-on for Firefox. This is really easy to do as well! After you’ve installed Firefox, simply go here and click on install.

3. Finally, you need to download the VPL-Amazon search script from Steve Tannock’s blog here.

4. While you are at Steve’s blog, write something nice – maybe a thank you note!

5. Go to the Amazon website and search for a book. Under the book title will be a small piece of text letting you know if the VPL has the book in its catalog! (See example picture below) Update: I’m hearing from some users that the script works on the site but not the site.

I hope this is helpful! And happy searching.

Also, for those who are more technically inclined feel free to improve on the script – fix any bugs (I’m not sure there are any) or make it better!

Amazon shot

9 thoughts on “Searching The Vancouver Public Library Catalog using Amazon

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