Python Client Library for the OpenLibrary API
Clone or download
Latest commit dbb8af3 Jul 10, 2018


Travis CI build status

A reference client library for the Open Library API. Tested with Python 2.7, 3.5, 3.6.


As a prerequisite, openlibrary-client requires libssl-dev for the cryptography used in openssl. for Ubuntu kindly use the following command:

$ sudo apt install libssl-dev

For Fedora/RHEL, use the following command to install libssl-dev for crypptography used in openssl.

$ sudo dnf install openssl-dev

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

$ sudo apt install yaz

For Fedora/RHEL, use the following command to install yaz

$ sudo dnf install yaz

You'll also need python dev tools:

$ sudo apt install python-dev   # for python 2
$ sudo apt install python3-dev  # for python 3

For Fedora/RHEL, use:

$ sudo dnf install python2-devel  # for python2.x installs
$ sudo dnf install python3-devel  # for python3.x installs

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 an email and password, will authenticate the credentials, and then store the account's corresponding s3 keys in ~/.config/ol.ini (or whichever config location the user has specified):

$ ol --configure --email
password: ***********
Successfully configured


Python Library

For more examples, you can take a look at our examples directory on Python Scripts for specific use cases that are needed.

Adding a new Book

Fun things you can do to add a new book to Open Library

>>> from olclient.openlibrary import OpenLibrary
>>> import olclient.common as common
>>> ol = OpenLibrary()
>>> book = common.Book(title=u"Warlight: A novel", authors=[common.Author(name=u"Michael Ondaatje")], publisher=u"Deckle Edge", publish_date=u"2018")
>>> book.add_id(u'isbn_10', u'0525521194')
>>> book.add_id(u'isbn_13', u'978-0525521198')
>>> new_book = ol.create_book(book)
>>> new_book.add_bookcover(',204,203,200_.jpg')


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'')


Author Information for existing authors can be done in the following manner.

>>> from olclient.openlibrary import OpenLibrary
>>> ol = OpenLibrary
>>> author_olid = ol.Book.get_olid_by_name('Dan Brown')
>>> author_obj = ol.get(author_olid)

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] [--configure] [--get-work] [--get-book] [--get-olid]
          [--olid OLID] [--isbn ISBN] [--create CREATE] [--title TITLE]
          [--baseurl BASEURL] [--email EMAIL]


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
  --baseurl BASEURL  Which OL backend to use
  --email EMAIL      An IA email 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: