Tag Archives: OpenLibrary

New GeneaGem: How to Use OpenLibrary.org for Genealogy

I have to admit that I’d never heard of Open Library. I more or less stumbled across it in Internet Archive, which I’ve used quite a bit when searching for digitized books to help my genealogy research.

Notice that the home page for Internet Archive has no obvious links to Open Library:

However, when going directly to Open Library, there is an Internet Archive symbol in the top left corner and I signed into Internet Archive to access my Open Library page:

So, what exactly is Open Library? Well, it’s a bit like Library Thing and Good Reads in that Open Library provides a site to catalog books you’ve read or would like to read.

However, Open Library also links to Internet Archive ebooks, which can be accessed from home.

Readers can virtually borrow books under copyright to read, as seen in the Trending Books in the image above.

Be sure to log into your Internet Archive account or set one up if you don’t already have one. It’s free!

Books can be easily organized. Just click on the My Books icon in the top left corner.

Your screen will look like the image above. To begin, click on Want to Read in the left column. A new screen will open:

Next, click on Search for a book in the middle of the page.

Next, search for a book by title, author or subject, just as you would on Internet Archive. A general search for “Passaic County history” brought up 23 hits. The most appropriate for my use are the first five books:

Notice that the first book, published in 1987, is under copyright, but I can borrow it. The second book, from 2004, is not in the library, but I can add it to my Want to Read list. The third and fourth books are long out of copyright and I can either immediately read them or add them to my Want to Read list.

Note, too, the fifth book. It says it’s not in the library, but compare this book to book #3. One is by Clayton, W. Woodford, published in 1882 with an abbreviated title, while book #5 has a lengthy title, published in 1882, by W.W. Clayton. They are actually the same book, which can be browsed by choosing book #3.

Next, I searched for a book with which I am very familiar, also a Passaic County history. I noticed that William Winfield Scott’s History of Passaic and Its Environs didn’t appear in my list. I did an author search and this came up:

History of Passaic and Its Environs did appear and it is available. I believe it wasn’t in my original list of hits because my search terms included the word “county” so the lesson here is to choose search terms carefully.

Here is a sample page of the three books I’ve saved:

Did you know that Internet Archive has over 175,000 genealogy-themed books? Open Library is an excellent way to keep track of books accessed on Internet Archive. I’ve only touched on how to search and save books. Open Library can be used to set reading goals, keep track of your loaned books and your settings can be set to Public or Private. It’s extremely easy to use. Check it out and see if it works for you!