October 28, 2017
Library Extension for Chrome
Here's a keen thing I learned about from a Vox article: a Chrome extension named Library Extension that adds library information when you're viewing books on Amazon or Goodreads. The extension tells you whether the book you're interested in is available in one or more library systems.
Let's say you're interested in the book The ABC of How We Learn, so you look it up on Amazon. In the bar at the top of the page, the library extension icon lights up to tell you that you're on an enabled site:
On the actual page where you're viewing book information, the extension displays library information:
If you want to get the book from the library, you click the Borrow button. This sends you to the library site with the book preloaded.
To configure the extension—for example, to tell it which libraries you want to look in—you click the icon in the toolbar, then click Options:
In the options dialog, you find the library you're interested in, then click the add (+) button:
I just started using this, so I don't know whether I'll end up liking it. It seems a bit intrusive to actually inject information into the page, instead of optionally displaying that information in a dialog or something. I also don't know how robust it is. Does the extension rely on Amazon APIs? Does it scrape information from the page? (A strategy known to be fragile.) How reliable will it be in terms of interacting with library sites?
But I like the concept just fine, since it reflects something I do a lot anyway—namely, look up books, then see if I can get them at the library. I'm curious whether others use this extension, or something like it, and what they think.