[Web4lib] ISBN linking to Wikipedia

Eric Hellman eric at openly.com
Mon Dec 3 12:46:21 EST 2007

A bit more than a year ago, Lars Aronsson suggested to the Web4Lib  
list that it would be really nifty to have a "reverse lookup" facility  
to enable links to Wikipedia based on ISBNs cited in Wikipedia  
articles. Many of us thought this suggestion was really exciting- Tim  
Spalding did some nice things with it, for example- but I think the  
idea of ISBN-Wikipedia lookup is just the nub of an idea that will  
dramatically change the way we organize, navigate and think about our  

Last week, we quietly announced the addition of a Wikipedia article  
lookup facility to OCLC's Worldcat xISBN service. The xISBN service  
groups ISBNs into works based on the entire Worldcat data set. This  
means that the service will connect Wikipedia citations to any of the  
ISBNs associated with the cited work. xISBN is an xml-based "grid  
service" designed to help libraries plug into the data without  
worrying too much about the wiring.

For more information on using the Worldcat xISBN service to get  
Wikipedia articles, see http://xisbn.worldcat.org/xisbnadmin/doc/api.htm
Here's an example of how to access the service:

During the implementation, Xiaoming Liu, the developer who is  
continuing to enhance the xISBN service, suggested that instead of  
working on a Wikipedia-specific service, we should generalize the  
functionality to encompass any sort of identifier-based collection. So  
that's what we did. We're offering wikipedia as our first production  
"library". To demonstrate how this functionality might be useful,  
we've also created "libraries" out of two of the most popular book- 
sharing websites.

I hope that many of you find this service to be useful.


Eric Hellman, Director                      OCLC, Global Product  
hellmane at oclc.org                           2 Broad St., Suite 208
tel 1-973-509-7800                           Bloomfield, NJ 07003

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