Best way to put a small library database online?
March 9, 2015 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I am responsible for a library of about 1200 books, which I've cataloged in a database. I'd like to put the database on our website so that readers can search for a book without having to visit the library. I have experience with Python and to a lesser extent, MySQL. What is the best way to create a searchable database online using these tools or something else that's relatively easy to learn?
posted by stinker to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you want to "re-invent the wheel" for fun, or do you just want to accomplish the task? If the later then use Librarything
posted by Sophont at 8:35 AM on March 9, 2015

Note that the mass upload for LibraryThing relied on ISBN data last time I looked, so it will be much easier if that's already included in your existing database.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:52 AM on March 9, 2015

Koha is an open source Integrated Library System (ILS). It's a pretty robust tool that many libraries (large and small) use. I've seen folks with little IT systems experience get it up and running. Making the "Online Public Access Catalog" (OPAC) work my take some fiddling, but it's probably simpler that building your own.

There are others out there that might work for you, searching for "ILS" or "Integrated Library System" get you there.
posted by GPF at 9:58 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Flask is a great Python microframework and easy to learn.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:59 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, here's an earlier question that some other resources.
posted by GPF at 10:01 AM on March 9, 2015

I also came to recommend Koha. Great community, easy to set up, a real library system.

The nice thing about using Koha is that because it is actively developed, it's getting security patches and updates regularly. It is much better to have a whole security-focussed project providing you with packaged software, bug fixes and new features than to be supporting your own thing independently.

If you ask on a mailing list/IRC you will probably get good advice on how to import your existing data.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:25 AM on March 9, 2015

If you do decide to roll your own, I can second the recommendation of Flask as a framework that gives you a lot of power but gets out of the way for simple stuff. I would also suggest using a lightweight object-relational mapper like pony or peewee to make handling the database stuff easier.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:54 PM on March 9, 2015

Do you want a fun project or do you just want to get this done? This is a question that is asked a lot of times and if all you want is a way for people to look online to answer the "Do they have this?" question, I'd really suggest LibraryThing because you can do a mass-export with ISBNs and be totally 100% finished. If you enjoy projects, I've seen a lot of people get great little OPACs with Koha that will also allow you to do stuff like circulate the books, keep track of patrons and other stuff that LibraryThing doesn't even try to do.
posted by jessamyn at 1:11 PM on March 9, 2015

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