Browse the book shelves with Open Library Explorer

Open Library Explorer is a beta interface on Internet Archive’s Open Library site that allows you to browse books as though you were combing through the selves of a physical library.  Open Library contains metadata for 28+ million books, and includes books available online from Internet Archive.

This video explains how to navigate through the shelves.

You can read about the launch of this feature on the Open Library blog. If you would like more technical details, you can visit github.

Open Library Explorer allows you to scan bookshelves left to right by subject, up and down for subclassifications. When a title catches your eye, click on the book to see whether there is an edition you can preview or borrow.

Not all of the books available through Open Library Explorer are borrowable. If you would like to limit your exploration to available ebooks, you can turn that feature on in the filter menu.

A tour of Open Library Explorer’s features

The Open Library Explorer presents you with tall, clickable bookshelves situated across your screen. Each shelf has its own identity that can morph into new classes of books and subject categories with a single click.

In addition to those smart filters, you can personalize single rows of books, expand entire shelves, or construct an entire library experience that evolves around your exact interests. 

You can zoom out of the Open Library Explorer interface to see more shelves and get a complete view of the library you’ve constructed.

Let’s explore one more set of features the Open Library Explorer offers by clicking on the “Filter” icon at the bottom of the page.

By selecting “Juvenile,” you can instantly transform your entire library into a children’s library, but keep all the useful organization and structure provided by the bookshelves. Or you may type in “subject:biography” and suddenly your entire library shows you a tailored collection of just biographies on every subject. 

Also in the Filter menu, you can choose to show only books that have ebooks and previews available from Internet Archive by using the “Has ebook/preview” filter.

If you click on the Settings tab, you’re given several options to customize the look and feel of your personal Open Library Explorer. You can switch between using Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal classification to organize your shelves. You can also choose from a variety of delightful options to see your books in 3D. Each book has the correct thickness determined by its actual number of pages. To see your favorite book in 3D, click the settings icon at the bottom of the screen and then press the 3D button.

Open Library Explorer’s 3D view