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Last edited by Lance Arthur
June 7, 2010 | History

Welcome to Open Library!

If it's your first time here, you might be wondering what's going on, and how to find your way around. Since we don't have a friendly and knowledgeable librarian available, consider this the front desk of Open Library where we hope to be able to point you in the right direction, give some advice about using Open Library, and offer some tips and pointers about getting the most out of the resource.

What is Open Library?

In short, we're a library without any books. If we know where or how a certain book may be bought, borrowed or downloaded, we'll provide links to that information - or even to the book itself - but Open Library doesn't contain any books. In more elaborate terms, Open Library's central goal is to become an openly editable catalog containing information about every book ever written.

That's where you come in.

We need your help to make sure the information we have is complete and correct. If you're looking at the record of a book and you know more about it, hit the Edit button and dig in. If you can't find information about a book because it isn't in our catalog, yet, click "Add a Book" and help us build the library.

We're interested in any and all information about books. Are there interesting links online? Is it available from a vendor? Can you read it right now? How big is it? How much does it weigh? Who illustrated it, or edited it, or wrote the foreword? What language is it in, and was it ever translated? We want to know everything.

How do I use Open Library?

The first thing you should know is that you're the librarian at Open Library. Everything in Open Library - well, pretty much everything in Open Library can be edited and re-edited, so you can correct mistakes, add more information and include new books that we don't know about, yet.

If you're looking for information about a book, the first place to start is searching Open Library. There are a lot of different ways to search, and a lot of ways to filter and organize your results.

What's the difference between a Work and an Edition?

This is a fairly key distinction, and understanding these terms will help you use Open Library efficiently.

Let's take A Tale of Two Cities as an example. The work is the title itself, rather than a manifestation of the title. While A Tale of Two Cities is a work, a paperback version of A Tale of Two Cities is an edition of that work. The hardback is a different edition. The French version is yet another edition. The audio book, the large-print version, a different hardback version published in another year, even a movie version are all editions of the work.

When you perform a search for a title at Open Library, we'll provide works that match your search. There's a lot more about searching available, but just understanding the difference between a work and its editions will clarify everything else you do in Open Library.


June 7, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur Edited without comment.
June 4, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur Edited without comment.
June 4, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur Edited without comment.
June 4, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur Edited without comment.
May 26, 2008 Created by Anand Chitipothu Guided Tour in English