WorldCat Releases a Basic API

WorldCat announced last week the availability of a basic API. The new API isn’t as fancy as the WorldCat Search API, but does provide information on authors, titles, ISBNs, and OCLC numbers. You’ll have to have a WorldCat account to use the API (it’s free) because you’ll need to have an API key (also free.) The API is limited to non-commercial use and 1,000 queries a day.

The instructions for using the API are at along with some instructions for how to use it. The API defaults to an ATOM format for its results though you can also specify RSS, and there are citation formats available as well. In other respects the Basic API is indeed basic. You have a q value for query (you request title, subject, author, etc, with the same q parameter), where you want to start the result (your search result will return no more than the first 100 records in any case) and the maximum number of records to return. So if you want to do a search for Seth Godin and you don’t mind the results in ATOM format, your search query would look like this:

Note this returns results of books both in English and other languages (The Chinese version of “Small is the New Big” is Xiao jiu shi da.) I guess I had forgotten this, but the book listings available through OCLC make for very good review aggregations; the listing for Tribes links to over 450 reviews from three different sources.

In the course of doing this writeup I actually did several different queries, and I’m going to save a couple for my RSS reader: subject searches for econophysics and augmented reality. (Look at this Google Trends chart for the query “augmented reality”. Lots of interesting news!) Not only am I getting book listings this way, I’m also getting conference proceedings and dissertations. And THAT’S how I got an abridged version of Matt Scheinerman’s Exploring Augmented Reality thesis. Thanks Matt!

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