LibrariesWest is a partnership between Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset. Somerset and South Gloucestershire public library services. This site offers you easy access to our combined catalogue and other online services.
If you live in that region, count yourself lucky. You can sign up for a library card online and straight away start using it to reserve books. If you reserve something that’s currently on loan, you can get an SMS or email when it’s back in the library and ready to collect. When your books are overdue you can get an SMS or email telling you so. Just browsing, a book has been taken out, so you want to buy it? No problem, they link straight through to Amazon.co.uk. I can’t figure out how to save a search yet, although that option is apparenly available.
LibrariesWest also links through to whichbook.net a web application which allows you to move some sliders to select some criteria (“happy/sad”, “conventional/unusual” etc.) and gives you a list of books which might meet those criteria, and an extract from each one. It then lets you drill down to anywhere in the country to see if your local library has a copy in stock and reserve it. As well as the book type criteria, it lets you switch to a more complex “character/plot/setting” search form where you can do all kinds of things like choose a “success against the odds” book with a 50+ gay asian woman in it (btw, “Sorry! No books match your request. Please try again.”). As far as I’m concerned, this is incredible flexibility.
All in all, this is library websites, the next generation.