I love the Ottawa Public Library. They have a website that makes it very easy to request a book. A few days later you get a voice mail and an e-mail saying that your book is ready to pick up. If it’s a new book, it might take a few months to work through the queue. It’s still faster than waiting for the paperback version, though!

Picking up the book is a beautiful customer service experience. As you walk in the door, the first thing you come to is the slot where you can drop your old books off. Then you walk past the very small line of people who wish to talk to a human, and past the self-service kiosks. The first set of shelves you come to are the request shelves.

The request shelves are organized alphabetically by the first four letters of your last name, so you can very quickly find your book. In my case, I have to ignore the Cary Grant movies, diet books and country music CD’s requested by some other “Lars”.

There are 4 self service checkouts. There’s pretty much always one available, and they are easy to use. Put your books in the bag and head out the door. Total time elapsed? Maybe 60 seconds or so.

The Ottawa Public Library web site is fairly well done, but it’s certainly does not have the amount of reviews, links and information that Amazon does. So I’ve modified a script written for the Seattle Public Library that adds links to the Library from Amazon. This is a Greasemonkey script: you have to install Greasemonkey first. Greasemonkey is primarily a Firefox plugin, but I understand that some people have ported portions of it to other browsers. I’ve only tested my script with firefox, though.

Get the latest version of my script


  • Alan Falloon on 17 Mar 20:48

    I just tried it out and it works great! Thanks.

  • Jason on 18 Mar 18:40

    Nice script Bryan, thanks!

    You can also get rss feeds and sms text messages (and emails) of your library hold status (and more) via Library_Elf

  • Bryan on 20 Mar 09:31

    Yes, I’ve been thinking about signing up for Library Elf. But the OPL was promising email notification and I procrastinated long enough that it’s arrived already…