Python Client Library for the OpenLibrary API
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A reference client library for the Open Library API

Notes: Tested with Python 2.7, assumed 3.4 compatibility


As a prerequisite, openlibrary-client requires libssl-dev for the cryptography used in openssl:

$ sudo apt-get install libssl-dev

If you plan on doing MARC parsing, you'll need yaz (see: Assuming ubuntu/debian, you can install yaz via apt-get:

$ sudo apt-get install yaz

To install the openlibrary-client package:

$ git clone
$ cd openlibrary-client
$ pip install .


Many Open Library actions (like creating Works and Editions) require authentication, i.e. certain requests must be provided a valid cookie of a user which has been logged in with their openlibrary account credentials. The openlibrary-client can be configured to "remember you" so you don't have to provide credentials with each request.

First time users may run the following command to enable the "remember me" feature. This process will ask for a username and password and save them in ~/.config/ol.ini (or whichever config location the user has specified). In the next version, the password will not be stored; instead the account will be authenticated and the username and resulting cookie (and not the password) will be stored in the config:

$ ol --configure --username mekarpeles
password: ***********
Successfully configured


Python Library


Fun things you can do with an Work:

>>> from olclient.openlibrary import OpenLibrary
>>> ol = OpenLibrary()
>>> work = ol.Work.get(u'OL12938932W')
>>> editions = work.editions

One thing to consider in the snippet above is that work.editions is a @property which makes several http requests to OpenLibrary in order to populate results. Once a call has been made to work.editions, its editions are saved/cached as work._editions.


Fun things you can do with an Edition:

>>> from olclient.openlibrary import OpenLibrary
>>> ol = OpenLibrary()
>>> edition = ol.Edition.get(u'OL25952968M')
>>> authors = edition.authors
>>> work =
>>> work.add_bookcover(u'')
>>> edition.add_bookcover(u'')

Command Line Tool

Installing the openlibrary-client library will also install the ol command line utility. Right now it does exactly nothing.

$ ol

~usage: ol [-h] [-v] [--get-work] [--get-book] [--get-olid] [--olid OLID]
           [--isbn ISBN] [--title TITLE]

optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit -v Displays the currently installed version of ol --configure Configure ol client with credentials --get-work Get a work by --title, --olid --get-book Get a book by --isbn, --olid --get-olid Get an olid by --title or --isbn --olid OLID Specify an olid as an argument --isbn ISBN Specify an isbn as an argument --create CREATE Create a new work from json --title TITLE Specify a title as an argument --username USERNAME An OL username for requests which require authentication. You will be prompted discretely for a password

You can create a new work from the command line using the following syntax. It's almost identical to the olclient.common.Book object construction, except instead of providing an Author object, you instead pass a key for "author" and a corresponding value:

> ol --create '{"title": "The Cartoon Guide to Calculus", "publisher": "Teach Yourself", "publish_date": "2013", "identifiers": {"isbn_10": ["144419111X"]}, "cover": ",204,203,200_.jpg", "author": "Hugh Neill"}'

Successful creation of a new Work results in the return of its Open Library edition ID.


To run test cases (from the openlibrary-client directory):

$ py.test tests/

Other Client Libraries

Other Open Library client libraries include: