Library Access in your Menu Bar

Library Access LogoRemember books? The old-fashioned ones? You know, the ones that are made of paper and glues and ink and stuff? Well, if you’re anything like me, then you enjoy the heft of a good book in your hand and you’re a frequent visitor to your local library. Yep, the library. The brick-and-mortar one where they keep all those books and lend them out, free of charge, to anyone who comes in looking.

Chances are that your local library has moved to a computer system instead of the card catalog you learned about in first grade. And, thanks to that computer system, the Internet and a generous Australian programmer named Harold, you can now use your Mac to interact with the library in a much more convenient way.

The idea is pretty simple: your local library uses a computer to track the books you’ve checked out as well as manage their catalog. Since they make this information available over the Internet, it was simply a matter of time until someone resourceful enough found a way to access it from within an application. Harold is that guy and his simple Menu Bar application will change the way you interact with your library. Of course, different libraries use different software packages, protocols and systems, but Harold hasn’t let that stop him. His app currently supports libraries in nine different countries (including 180 in the United States) and if yours isn’t supported (mine wasn’t), just shoot him an email; Harold released an update including my local library mere hours after I contacted him.

Library Access Screenshot

Once you install the app and follow the directions to set it up, you get a small star-icon in your menu bar. You can use the menu to see the items you have currently checked out, sorted by due date, and it also alerts you to any requested items the library may be holding for you. As an added bonus, Library Menu can automatically create an iCal calendar which tracks your due dates and gives you appropriate reminders so you don’t incur late fees. To top it all off, the menu also gives you one-click shortcuts to your local library’s website, online catalog and item renewal pages.

Harold’s future plans for the app include his ever-growing list of supported libraries and the addition of a dashboard widget to display the information. It’s a 3 MB download that is free to try, is a Universal application and requires only Mac OS X 10.3 or later and an Internet connection.

Library Books represents the very best in Mac software: it’s a free-to-use application that does one thing very well. It’s written by a responsive, talented programmer who only asks that, if you feel like it, you drop some cash in his tip jar. There should be more programmers like Harold and more apps like Library Books. Give it a shot and donate a few bucks if you like what he’s doing.

Comments

19 Responses to “Library Access in your Menu Bar”

  1. steve on June 4th, 2007 1:39 pm

    very cool, i just so happen to work at the foundation of one of the libraries on his list and it just happens to be the oldest public library in the US.

  2. Matthew Cone on June 4th, 2007 1:46 pm

    It’s posts like this that make MacApper one of the best Mac websites around. Keep up the good work!

  3. Will on June 4th, 2007 1:46 pm

    I wish I had the time to read as much as I used to…

  4. stongey on June 4th, 2007 3:12 pm

    This app is utterly amazing.

    I tried to find something similar for windows (so my gf could manage her own account) but couldn’t. Luckily Harold has written in multiple account support.

    Guess who gets to manage here account for her…? “You have a book due tomorrow dear.”

  5. Dan Booring on June 4th, 2007 3:26 pm

    @Matthew Cone: Wow, thank you! :)

    @stongey: There are a ton of Mac apps that have no counterpart in the Windows world… thanks for mentioning the multiple-account support; I forgot to put it in the review.

  6. Ryan on June 4th, 2007 3:44 pm

    If you don’t want/need another app to run and clutter your menubar, try http://libraryelf.com – you can be notified via SMS, email and RSS. I use it and it works quite nicely.

  7. steve on June 4th, 2007 3:48 pm

    speaking of multiple account support does anyone know if cha ching supports this. And what I mean is having two separate master vaults. Its one of my deciding factors regarding purchasing when my trial runs out. Ideally it can do more than one vault with passwords protection.

  8. Miles Evans on June 4th, 2007 5:45 pm

    Wow what an utterly amazing tool! I can’t wait to try this when I get back to Canada. Apps like LB really speak volumes for the ingenuity of some of these independent developers. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention Dan, and I truly hope Harold gets some eye balls on this very worthwhile project.

  9. julian on June 4th, 2007 9:03 pm

    i dont know if this app can do dis but it would be kool if u could search the library for a book and even further would be to chek da book out on ur comp for an in-library pick up

  10. Dan Booring on June 4th, 2007 9:40 pm

    @ julian: Yes, you can. Well, not within LB, but you should be able to do this via your library’s website. Then you can use the LB application to track what you’ve checked out and when it’s due.

  11. Featured Mac Download: Local library in your menu bar with Library Access at SoftSaurus on June 6th, 2007 4:06 pm

    [...] You can even set up Library Access to work with multiple libraries, as long as they’re supported. Regarding support, it supports an incredible 9 countries (including 180 libraries in the US alone and several generic formats), and if you can’t get it to work with your local library, the software’s author takes requests for new libraries. If you’re a regular at your local library, this simple menu bar app is a must-have. Library Access is donationware, Mac OS X only. Library Books [via MacApper] [...]

  12. Il Liceo » Blog Archive » Featured Mac Download: Local library in your menu bar with Library Access on June 6th, 2007 7:41 pm

    [...] You can even set up Library Access to work with multiple libraries, as long as they’re supported. Regarding support, it supports an incredible 9 countries (including 180 libraries in the US alone and several generic formats), and if you can’t get it to work with your local library, the software’s author takes requests for new libraries. If you’re a regular at your local library, this simple menu bar app is a must-have. Library Access is donationware, Mac OS X only. Library Books [via MacApper] [...]

  13. Patrick on June 10th, 2007 9:25 pm

    Awesome app. Also love the Griffith Student ID card in the graphic on your site for this ;)

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    [...] Library Access in your Menu Bar | MacApper (tags: freeware mac osx apple aplication library books) [...]

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  16. Harold Chu on June 14th, 2007 5:56 am

    The author isn’t very responsive. That’s me talking about myself :) The emails are coming quicker than I can reply so be warned that it may take an awfully long time before I can get back to you.

  17. Sam on June 29th, 2007 5:17 pm

    How do you get a local library on their list?

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    Keep going Thank you and all the best

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