Two Hundred Years and Still Searching

I received an email the other day from one of my favorite librarians at one of my favorite libraries.  The original cause for writing is unimportant, but on a cold gray day I got a big boost out of something that was mentioned at the end.

The library in question, the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the oldest in North America.  Its original collection consisted of 751 titles shipped  from London in 1749, plus 126 additional early donations “by Several Gentlemen”.    To modern collecting tastes these are not particularly exciting books, but that is also unimportant. They are of interest to me, however, as a demonstration of the fact that books, even run-of-the-mill reprints,  are so much more vulnerable and hard to replace than the buildings that shelter and attempt to protect them; because in this case, while the library itself still stands, the collection it originally housed was stolen, destroyed or dispersed within a few decades of its original formation.

The loss, I should add, was quickly perceived.  For over two centuries now the successive librarians in charge have been working hard to replace the lost volumes and recreate the collection they started with over 250 years ago.   The list of missing volumes has been widely distributed and no sale list or catalogue of 18th century books arrives at the library without close scrutiny.  Acquisition funds have been available.  Scouts are on the hunt. Two hundred years is a long time to look for a book, and yet over 90 items (out of 877) still elude the empty shelf space that is waiting for them.

Libribot wants a shot at that list.  And it is going to get it.

I am curious to see how hard to find those books are actually going to be. I’ll let you know.

Massive update to viaLibri

The latest viaLibri upgrade has now been launched. It includes several new features and numerous enhancements that we believe will make viaLibri even more powerful and useful than ever. Much of what is new has come in response to suggestions received from our users. We hope our latest efforts have satisfied those requests. Other less visible improvements have also been made to improve performance and reliability. Work on these will remain ongoing. If you are one of our many regular visitors we hope you will be pleased with the new version of viaLibri we offer to you now. Please try it and let us know what you think. As soon as the last bugs have been eliminated from this new release we will start work again on the next set of improvements. As always, your continued feedback in that process will be greatly appreciated. Here is a summary of the most important new features you will find:

Book Search

  • Unwanted search results can be removed. It is now possible to remove items from your search results using a checkbox that appears with each item. You can check all the items that are not of interest and remove them from your results with one click of a button.
  • Improved translation. We are now able to identify the language used with each book description. If you click the “translate” button the text will automatically be translated into your native language, as recorded in your browser language preference settings. (Or you can choose a different language if you prefer). The scroll menu is no longer required and over 60 languages are available as both source and target.
  • Improved grouping algorithm. Some careful back-end modifications have further improved our ability to group multiple listings for the same book under a single entry. Repetitive entries are now significantly reduced..

Wants Manager / Libribot

  • Updated Display. We have significantly revised the way want records are displayed in the Want Manager. Readability and navigation are now much improved.
  • Note Field. All want records now include a “Note” field that can be used to record information you may want to save regarding an individual want. Bibliographic references, customer names and any other related details can now be saved for future reference.
  • Libribot Match removal. You can now delete records for any Libribot matches you may not want to save.
  • Match Results for Individual Wants. It is now possible to view a separate list of Libribot matches for each of your specific wants. These lists can be accessed directly from the Wants manager, or from the individual wants records that can be accessed from Libribot match results.
  • livre-rare-book. livre-rare-book has recently been added to libribot searches.

A New Feature for Premium Services Subscribers

  • Libristat. Summary valuation statistics are now generated from each manual search and can be displayed a the top of your results screen. Statistics include average, median, highest and lowest prices for all matching items along with a count of the total of unique matches made, excluding most duplicates. Statistics are recalculated when items are removed from results. Libristat is optional and can be easily turned on and off. It is only available to viaLibri Premium Services subscribers.