Obviously, the library is the best place to get books, but we understand the library catalog isn’t necessarily always the first place you look for them. Maybe you browse new titles on Amazon or check Goodreads for suggestions and reviews from other bookies (book lovers, not a guy who takes your bets/breaks your thumbs, though I suppose they may have some good reading tips, too). Once you find the right read, unless you’re a wealthy archduke or a hardcore book collector/accumulator, your next move should be to consult the library catalog to see if you can get your hands on it for free.
Navigating from discovery elsewhere online to searching our catalog used to take some pesky extra clickage and redundant searching, but a not-so-new Google Chrome extension inventively named “Library Extension” has integrated the book search process. Once you install it for free from the Chrome web store on your Chrome browser*, you’ll see a book icon appear next to your address bar. Click on the icon to add Benbrook Public Library to your list of libraries you’d like to search. Then, when you view a book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, AR BookFinder, or Google Books, Library Extension will search the library catalog for available print, eBook, and eAudiobook copies of that book and display the results right there embedded within the page. For instance:
If the book shows to be available, you can click the “Borrow” button to be redirected to the library catalog’s holdings information for it. From there, I recommend clicking “Availability” to see exactly which library has a copy checked in, as Library Extension includes the holdings of Benbrook and all of our partner libraries in its search. If, on the other hand, the book shows to be unavailable in your desired format, you can click the “Place a hold” button to be redirected to the catalog (or Overdrive) to place a hold on the item so that you may check it out when it becomes available. In a way, Library Extension makes the Internet, or at least major book-related portions of it, a library catalog, and that’s pretty great.
It’s not all great. Sometimes, Library Extension will claim the library doesn’t own a book that it in fact does own. From my brief experience with it, this can be due to the particular edition of a book you’re viewing. For instance, if you’re viewing a hardcover book on Amazon and Library Extension comes up with no results, clicking “see all formats and editions” and selecting the paperback edition may very well return results. It’s definitely annoying to have to click around and check multiple editions, especially since some books have many editions in print. If you’re ever in doubt, I recommend going directly to the library catalog to conduct a final search for the item. Even if you’ve exhausted all search possibilities and are certain the library doesn’t have a particular item, don’t break out that wallet just yet, archduke; there’s always interlibrary loan. Search for and request the item here or contact us at the library and we’ll see if we can find a willing lending library from elsewhere in the state or country.
Even with its warts, Library Extension is still a handy tool I wish I had discovered and told you about years ago. Give it a try and make all of your book searches library searches.
*Library Extension currently only works with Google Chrome, but it’s supposedly coming soon for Firefox.