Open Library

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Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published.

Are you looking to get started? This is the guide you are looking for. You may wish to learn more about Google Summer of Code (GSoC)? or Hacktoberfest.

Table of Contents


Open Library is an effort started in 2006 to create “one web page for every book ever published”. It provides access to many public domain and out-of-print books, which can be read online.

Here’s a quick public tour of Open Library to get your familiar with the service and its offerings (10min)

archive org_embed_openlibrary-tour-2020 (1)


The development environment can be set up using the Docker Instructions. You can also watch the video tutorial for a more detailed explanation.

Our Docker environment is in active development. Want to contribute? Here’s our top-level Docker todo-list and a list of open Docker issues.

Developer’s Guide

For instructions on administrating your Open Library instance, refer the Developer’s Quickstart Guide.

You can also find more information regarding Developer Documentation for Open Library in the Open Library Wiki

Code Organization

  • openlibrary/core – core openlibrary functionality, imported and used by www
  • openlibrary/plugins – other models, controllers, and view helpers
  • openlibrary/views – views for rendering web pages
  • openlibrary/templates – all the templates used in the website
  • openlibrary/macros – macros are like templates, but can be called from wikitext


The Backend

OpenLibrary is developed on top of the Infogami wiki system, which is itself built on top of the Python web framework and the Infobase database framework.

Once you’ve read the overview of OpenLibrary Backend technologies, it’s highly encouraged you read the developer primer which explains how to use Infogami (and its database, Infobase)

If you want to dive into the source code for Infogami, see the Infogami repo.

Running tests

Open Library tests can be run using pytest. Kindly look up on our Testing Document for more details

Run tests while the docker container is running

cd docker/
docker-compose exec web make test

Integration Tests

Integration tests use the Splinter webdriver with Google Chrome. For instructions on installation requirements and running integration tests, see Integration Tests README


All source code published here is available under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License, version 3.