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Help magnify the impact of all libraries

Screen image from NPR's 2014 Book Concierge

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"We were really happy to be able to add the Find at Your Library link to the NPR Book Concierge for a wide variety of reasons. I think it's very much in line with NPR's mission. It's a great win, and it wasn't complicated to do."

David Eads
News Application Developer, National Public Radio

The Books We Love team wants to "help you find a great book to read," according to former NPR News Application Developer David Eads. Formerly known as the NPR Books team, they presented their annual recommendations list in the 2014 NPR Book Concierge and has continued the tradition for the past several years. This online tool allows users to sort and browse reviewed books based on their own preferences.

Each of the books on the Books We Love site has a pop-up window that includes the book cover, a short review and recommendation, a list of genres, social media tools to share the review, and buttons to help users find the book. However, sharp-eyed librarian Lisa Tattersall, Manager of the OCLC member group Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS), noticed a small problem with the 2014 list. "They linked to Amazon, iBooks, and IndieBound for each title, but not to WorldCat®," she said.

So Lisa took to Twitter. On only the second day the 2014 Book Concierge was live, she tweeted, "@nprbooks Love the 2014 book concierge! Any way you could add @OCLC WorldCat links next yr, pointing to library copies?" Books We Love responded right away, expressing enthusiasm and referring the request to David. David and Lisa exchanged tweets, with many favorites and retweets from others, to figure out whether the WorldCat links could be added even sooner.

Within a day, David added the Find at Your Library button to the Book Concierge. "It was really simple," David explained, because of the free WorldCat Search API. "We had the ISBN number, but we didn't have the OCLC number," he said, "but the API could do the lookup for us." Once they had the OCLC number, they added it to the Google spreadsheet that serves as a database for the Book Concierge. "At that point, we could just create a link to WorldCat.org™, and WorldCat did all the rest."

"The OCLC API documentation was simple and straight forward. We were able to navigate it pretty quickly. It was clearly labeled, and it was obvious which API did what. Once we had that, we were off to the races."

Within the first month (December 2014), the Book Concierge received more than 766,000 unique views. Even though it was the last button to be added, Find at Your Library was the second most popular button on the page. "More people clicked it than emailed a recommendation or clicked on iBooks, IndieBound, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, any of those," David said. Only the Amazon link was clicked more often.

David credits Lisa's initiative for getting the library link in place. "We wish we had thought of it before the launch," he said. "We were super delighted. When an audience member says, 'Here's this cool thing you can do, and here's how to do it,' that's a no brainer!" OCLC members know that this is just another example of the cooperative's power to magnify the presence of libraries.

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Organization at a glance

  • NPR supports news correspondents in 17 bureaus within the US and 17 more outside the US
  • NPR is funded in part through the contributions of listeners supporting their local stations
  • The Books We Love team includes journalists and a team of critics and librarians who review new releases and interview authors about their work

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