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scrapy.cfg Profile Scraper

This is a slightly modified version of the LibraryThing (LT) user profile scraper which I used to collect data for my Master thesis. It uses the Python screen scraping and web crawling framework Scrapy to collect basic user profile information and personal libraries of LT members. The scraper eats a seedlist (an initial list of LT profile URLs) and outputs the scraped data in several CSV files.


The repo contains a requirements.txt that can be used to install the necessary requirements, but to give you an idea of the used packages:

  • Python 2.5, 2.6 or 2.7
  • Scrapy 0.14.4
  • python-dateutil 1.5


First clone the LibraryThing Profile Scraper Git repository:

$ git clone

If you do not have pip installed, run:

$ easy_install pip

Install all required packages that are needed to run the scraper:

$ cd librarything_profile_scraper/
$ pip install -r requirements.txt


Before running the scraper you first need to change some settings in the file found in the scraper directory.

First set PROFILE_SEEDLIST variable to the path of a text file containg a list of LT profile URLs that should be used as a starting point for the crawl. This file should be formatted as follows:

Next, set the CSV_STORE_LOCATION variable to the directory where the crawled data should be stored. The crawler stores four different files in CSV format:

  • user_profiles.csv: basic profile information such as profile URL, username and date of registration.
  • user_connections.csv: connections from a single user to other LT users; e.g. 'friends' and 'interesting libraries'.
  • group_memberships.csv: the LT groups the user is a member of.
  • user_libraries.csv: the works a user has added to her library, with the assigned rating and the date when the user added the work.

When the FOLLOW_USER_CONNECTIONS variable is set to False the crawler will not follow links to other profiles.

The settings file also contains several options to set the rate at which information should be requested from LibraryThing (specifically the DOWNLOAD_DELAY and CONCURRENT_REQUESTS_PER_DOMAIN variables). LT's robots.txt specifies a 'crawl-delay' of two seconds, please don't hit their servers too hard. It is in no way my responsibility if you take down or get blocked by LT.

Running the crawler

Enter the following command in the repo's top directory to run the LT profile scraper:

$ scrapy crawl "Librarything User Profiles"
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