This year I was once again asked to be a judge in OCLC's second annual software contest, which is open to anyone who develops an applications that takes advantage of OCLC data services (like xISBN, which combines records for multiple editions of a single book, or WorldCat, which provides information on which libraries have an item in their collection).
The winner this year was a very impressive tool called Umlaut, but while I completely appreciate the skills it took to implement, and the value it provides to library patrons, it's not something I'll use on a day-to-day basis.
The runner-up, on the other hand, is something that I've already installed and fallen in love with. It's a fabulous tool called Book Burro, created by Jesse Andrews. Here's the brief description:
Book Burro is a Web 2.0 extension for Firefox and Flock. When it senses your are looking at a page that contains a book, it will overlay a small panel which when opened lists prices at online bookstores such as Amazon, Buy, Half (and many more) and
soonwhether the book is available at your library.
Once you've installed the extension, anytime you go to a bookstore listing (like the Amazon page shown below) an unobtrusive pane is displayed in the top left corner of your page. By default, it shows you the price for the item on other bookseller sites. But if you configure the extension with your zip code, it also shows you local libraries that have the item, listed in order of distance from you. Suh-weet!
This is a tool that will significantly improve my day-to-day quality of life--both for knowing what the RIT library has so I can borrow it, and for letting me know what they don't have so I can suggest that they order it. And, when I do want to acquire a copy for myself, I'll be able to easily comparison shop without having to go to multiple sites.