Does Internet Archive Want a Book

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The Internet Archive accepts donations of books, especially hardcover books, for the possibility of scanning them in and being made available (in general) at the Open Library site. Several major sources provide donations of books by the thousand to the Archive, and there is a large backlog of books to be scanned. However, at the rate of roughly 3,000 books scanned in a day, there is always a search for new unique books not already scanned or prepared to be scanned.

The primary API for dealing with knowing if a given book is scanned or waiting to be scanned is called the Do We Want It API. It returns the status for an ISBN number for a book including "We want it", "We have it", as well as "We have it but we could use a second copy" (as well as others). Documentation about this API is here:

However, this is an attempt to produce a simpler, slicker way for a donator with a lot of books to quickly check if they have materials the Internet Archive wants, or even to find if there is an electronic Open Library version of their book. This approach is still being tested.

Instructions for Testing The Do We Want It Scanner

  • Currently, we are using the Android bar code reader here: - This scanner has a free and pro version, and the free version works fine.
  • After installing this application, choose Settings, go to Custom URL, and add the following URL, including the %s characters:
  • Now, use this application to scan the ISBN of books.
  • When the scan finishes, hit "CUSTOM URL" in the menu, and it will call up the web page and tell you if the Internet Archive wants the book or not.

Considerations When You Have a Pile of Donatable Books

  • As mentioned above, there is a backlog of books being scanned, in some cases extending to years. Shipping containers of books are being sent to be scanned, so your book donations might not be reflected on Open Library for a significant amount of time.
  • In general, hardcover books are easiest to scan. Paperbacks and periodicals are not generally scanned (with some exceptions).
  • If you run into problems with all this, please talk to Jason Scott ( as opposed to contacting Internet Archive staff.