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Related Items Bookshelf

by levinem last modified Nov 07, 2014 05:26 PM

A browse-able, virtual bookshelf of related items embedded into the Voyager OPAC.

First Place Winner of the ELympics competition!


When a user searches for a particular book in the library stacks, she inevitably will see many related books on the surrounding shelves, probably before even finding the target item.  In a good OPAC, there are often faceted browsing options for finding related items, however they require explicit user action and are often ignored.  This virtual bookshelf is meant to be an unobtrusive but visually engaging presence to mimic the real-world effect of browsing discovery.



The Related Items Bookshelf is a widget embedded into the bottom of a record page in Voyager WebVoyage.  It displays cover images for the target book and those with similar call numbers in a scrollable, virtual bookshelf. 

The user may:

  • Scroll left and right, seeing generally the same items that would be on the physical shelf, as far as the user wants.
  • Scroll with one click back to the original item, to try the other direction.
  • Mouse over an item for basic information (title, author, publication year), availability status & location, and links to Google Book Search info and preview pages where applicable.
  • Click an item to view its own WebVoyage record page.

The library may:

  • Choose between Syndetics and Google Book Search cover images.  In either case, when no image is available, a fake cover mockup displays the item's title and author.
  • Hide the bookshelf on pages where proximity browsing is not considered useful (due to lack of relevance) or visually engaging (due to lack of cover images).  Filtering is done by matching on call number patterns.
  • Track usage anonymously and without identifying the items via Google Analytics.


The Related Items Bookshelf is released as open source software under the Apache License.  A list of Known Issues in the most recent release and a Technical Design and Requirements overview are available. Feedback, suggestions, etc. are appreciated.

Download the Related Items Bookshelf installation files and source code here.


The Related Items Bookshelf was developed for Polk Library, UW Oshkosh by Maccabee Levine.  It makes use of many open source third-party libraries

Thanks to Laura Guy, Michael Doran and Jon Musselman for being pre-release beta testers, and to developers at NCSU and Stanford for sharing ideas from their own shelf browsing projects.

Development of the Related Items Bookshelf was supported by the Faculty Development Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

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by levinem last modified Nov 07, 2014 05:26 PM