Have you ever heard about a book and thought, I wonder if my library has it?
You hear about a book from a friend, or read a glowing review. I want to read that, you think, and head off to Goodreads to learn more. Yes! you say after reading the book blurb and more positive reviews. I wonder if my library has it?
You’re browsing on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and see a book that looks intriguing. But I’m not sure I want to spend the money. I wonder if my library has it?
Library Extension to the rescue!
It’s a browser add-on that works with Goodreads, Amazon, and other major book sites. While you’re looking at a book, Library Extension is checking your library’s online catalog to see if they have a copy, and even whether it’s currently checked in. Click the borrow button, and Library Extension takes you right to the book’s page on your library catalog.
Once you’ve added the Library Extension app to your browser, navigate over to Goodreads or a bookstore site, and go to the page for a book you’re interested in. You’ll see the results displayed in a box. On the Amazon and B&N sites, the box is on the right, in the same column with the “buy now” buttons. On Goodreads, you’ll see the box between the book information and the reviews. On Google Books, it’s on the left.
Here’s what it looks like on the B&N site, using the Chrome add-on. The Library Extension box is on the right. It’s telling me that my library owns one copy of this book, but it’s not currently available (probably checked out.) They also have a digital copy I could borrow.
I’ve found Library Extension very helpful. In some cases, it has saved me the expense of buying a book from Amazon. If I think I’m only going to read it once, I’d rather get it from the library, and being able to see right on the Amazon page that my library has a copy has been great. It’s equally useful not to have to leave Goodreads to know whether I can borrow a title when I’m adding it to my want-to-read list.
To use Library Extension, just download and install the browser add-on and choose your library from a list. The app supports over 3200 libraries in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. (If your library isn’t supported, you can ask them to add it.) And yes, you can choose more than one library.
Unfortunately, Library Extension is currently only available for Chrome, but they are working on a Firefox version. And it doesn’t work with every book site, only most of the widely-known sites. It works with Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon*, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books (I’ve verified these), but not with Kobo, AbeBooks, Alibris, or BookFinder. Obviously, I wasn’t able to check all the bookish sites, particularly bookstores outside the US, so it may be available on other sites as well. (Note that the list of compatible sites on Library Extension’s FAQ page is being updated; it should soon include Book Depository or Amazon.co.uk, both of which are already supported — I’ve checked.)
If you regularly borrow books from your library, check out Library Extension. I think you’ll find it as useful as I have!
*Amazon’s sites for the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia are supported, according to Library Extension’s list of compatible websites.