Library.dk: Co-operation with booksellers

Since the end of 2000 bibliotek.dk has acted as a common gateway to the stocks of Danish libraries for searching and requesting books, articles, music. Users not able to read Danish, can use library.dk with the same content and same books etc., but with an English user interface. Right from the beginning one of the possibilities was to present a ‘you can also buy it’ button.

The primary objective of bibliotek.dk is to present the library service to the public, but this should by no means be seen as a straitjacket. There are several areas where the information in bibliotek. dk can be used as a basis for the development of a further number of services. It does not really matter whether the libraries are the suppliers – the allimportant thing is that members of the public are given a better service and access to the information they want – whether the medium be book, CD or CD-ROM.

Central in this context is the so-called ‘Available for sale’ button. It is up to the user to decide whether he wants to order a title from the library or whether he would prefer to buy it. It would, for example, seem sensible to choose purchase instead of ordering if he can see that the local library is not able to produce a copy for him within the next six months, because there is a long waiting list already. Or the book may not have been purchased by the libraries yet and therefore will not be ready for several weeks.When the user has indicated that he wants a certain title, he is offered the choice between ordering or buying it if there are booksellers who have the title in stock. If the user wants to buy it, he is shown a list of possible suppliers with prices and terms of delivery. He then chooses the relevant supplier and is transferred to the appropriate website exactly at the required title in the bookseller’s system.

What happens after the user is transferred to the bookseller, is a question between the user and the bookseller. Library.dk has nothing to do with the interaction between the customer and the vendor. The suppliers deliver files with data of the titles available from each supplier. It is a simple file format with ISBN, price and terms of delivery.

Since the summer of 2003 it has been possible to buy books, and other types of material will follow later. There are preliminary negotiations with vendors of music CDs and with the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association. The association has established a common database with the other Nordic Antiquarian Booksellers Associations. At this website the user can locate and request old books from all over Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. The most pressing problem is the fact that many old books do not contain an ISBN, and technicians are therefore working on other ways to connect registrations in the two databases. Actually library.dk contains links to four booksellers with links for between 4000 and nearly half a million titles.

Nearly all Danish books available in common bookstores are also available through one of these booksellers. Another bookseller offers many titles in English. The two vendors with only a few thousand titles offer books for universities and the others offer maps.

If several booksellers offer the same title, the users can choose a vendor based on price and availability of material.

It is too early to evaluate the use of these facilities. The criterion for success is not heavy use, but that users looking for a title to borrow, have an alternative if the waiting time is too long. In 2003 the number of users transferred from library.dk to a bookseller’s website involved nearly 10,000 titles. That may not look like many titles, but the number of users is still growing. In February 2004 nearly 2,500 users were transferred from library.dk to a bookseller’s website.

bibliotek.dk:

  • Contains stock from all public libraries and most of the larger research libraries
  • Contains the national bibliography
  • Records: 7 mil.
  • Budget 2004: 8,9 mill. DKK
  • Requests in 2003: 984,000
  • Requests February 2004: 113,266
  • Unique visits: 33,000 weekly (March 2004)
  • English user interface: library.dk

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield bibliotek.dk:

Adviser to the Director, The Royal Library (Copenhagen) Standards Committee Chair, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). Chair Danish Standards S24, Information and Documentation Member Bibliographic Council (Denmark)