Library Application Program Interfaces (APIs)


Application Program Interfaces (APIs) are structured methods for one software application to communicate with another. APIs allow programs to interoperate and share data and services in a standard way. Here is a list of library-related APIs that library developers may find useful. If you have ideas for others that would be appropriate for this list, please contact me.

Only APIs that are deemed to be generally useful are listed here. However, almost any library catalog will have a search API (e.g., Z39.50) and may have others as well depending on the vendor and product. You can also find other APIs at


Ten Years of Learned Helplessness Coming to an End

I've been using the expression "learned helplessness" a lot lately because that's how I see the situation libraries have found themselves in after a decade of integrated library systems.

I find it particularly disturbing because so much of the work I do seems to bump into roadblocks that point squarely at the ILS. And worse than the roadblock is the shoulder shrugging of so many of the library folk using that ILS software.

Too many worthy projects have died because the currently available integrated library systems (ILS) available today from commercial, proprietary vendors don't and won't support libraries and the services they've like to be providing to their customers.

Get Yourself a Sandbox

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I saw a note come through recently about a server that the University of Cincinnati Libraries had set up to be a "sandbox". What this means is that it is a place where new software (particularly open source software) can be installed for staff to investigate.

The sole admonition is to "Play nice together" and it currently has such applications as Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, WordPress, phpWiki, Tiki, and Moodle installed, among others.

I think this ia a wonderful idea and I'm glad to see that the University of Cincinnati Libraries takes their responsibility to help its staff learn new technologies seriously. I wish that more of our institutions did so.

Top 100 Web Development Cheat Sheets

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Jessica Hupp at has put together an amazing list of web

Library Software Manifesto Discussion Covered by Library Journal

Library Journal picked up on the Talis podcast about the Library Software Manifesto

Hacked, Wiped, Rebuilt, and Upgraded

Yes, the server was hacked recently, and as soon as I discovered it to be the case I backed up the data, wiped it, and reinstalled all the software.

A Discussion of the Library Software Manifesto

The folks at Talis pulled together a group of knowledgeable folks to discuss the Library Software Manifesto published here at It has now been published on the Talking with Talis web site as a podcast.

Library Software Manifesto Published

Last week I gave a talk at the 2007 CODI Conference (Customers of Dynix, Inc.). I had decided to take as my topic a "library software manifesto" in which I would outline the rights and responsibilities of libraries and library software vendors. I posted about this on the Code4Lib mailing list and used some of the resulting comments in the resulting Library Software Manifesto published on this site.

Big or small?

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Should you focus your efforts on a smaller number of really big technology projects, or a larger number of smaller projects? Of course there is no one right answer for all institutions, and it’s likely no institution would rely on one approach to the exclusion of the other. But it can be difficult to find the right balance between the large-scale, high-impact initiatives and those that are more nimble and quick to appear.

Two Models for the Future of Online Continuing Education

We are ALL busy. Yesterday for example, I had a plan of what I was going to accomplish at work, but then I came in to an e-mail from a student asking for articles about the Second Anglo-Afghan War (for which we had next to nothing in the databases so I really had to hunt), and after that I found out about some dead links I needed to fix on a Web page, and then I got a call from a professor whom I needed to talk through some database searches, and then I had a reference shift all afternoon. So by the end of the day, I was shocked to find that I'd barely gotten any of the things I'd wanted to accomplish done. Imagine, if this is going on every day, how I, or anyone else in our profession, can actually make time for any sort of continuing education work?

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