This is a mixture of lament and how-to guide.
Suppose you've reviewed lots of books. It's pretty easy to generate a link to let people buy the book at Amazon or any other online store. But how do you link to a user's local library?
You can't. There is no "search every library in the UK" service1. You can search the British Library, but they generally don't deliver to your local town centre.
Here's how to (almost) search local libraries for books.
eBook behemoth OverDrive rules the roost when it comes to providing library services in the UK. As far as I can tell, they have the monopoly on eBook lending in UK libraries. That's a shame, because monopolies usual mean crap service. But it is also handy because you can use their service as a meta-search engine for local library books.
OverDrive's API is invite-only, but their search is pretty easy to manipulate. There's no way to search for an ISBN, but a title search will suffice:
That goes to a page with eBooks and AudioBooks - as well as a few other close matches.
Selecting a book takes you to a page which shows which of your local libraries has the book available to borrow.
It isn't perfect. The "local" part seems to use GeoIP to guess where you are. Lots of eBooks aren't available on OverDrive. Oh, and it doesn't do legacy (paper) books.
But, it's better than nothing.
OK, suppose you're one of those old-fashioned fuddy-duddies who prefers dead tree format? How do you search for those relics in a local library? Enter WorldCat!
WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services. WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their resources on the Web, where most people start their search for information.
Again, their search URl is pretty easy to manipulate:
Quickly takes you to a list of books:
Visiting one of those links takes you to a list of local libraries - again, it guesses your locations:
But, sadly, most of those links are broken.
Some gave me errors, some redirected to the front page of the library website, some went in endless redirect loops. Not one single link took me directly to a page where I could borrow the book from my local library.
I'm at a loss. The bottom of my review page looks like this:
I'd love to point that library link to WorldCat - but it is just too unreliable. So I'm sticking with OverDrive for now.
Anyway - read more books, and borrow them from your local library if you can. Libraries are brilliant.