Library Gadget aims to keep users from being burned by overdue books
If Scott Peterson’s family was always on top of its library books, the Des Moines-based software architect might have never created Library Gadget, a web-based tool for tracking and renewing everything that's checked out across multiple library cards. But his family wasn't. So he did.
"A few years ago, we had a fine that was over $30. That bugged me," Peterson (below, photo from twitter.com) said in an email interview. "Also, I noticed that sometimes we would get fines on items that could have been renewed. It was just a pain to go out to the library's website and try to renew items."
That dilemma, combined with Peterson's desire to learn Python, drove him to create Library Gadget, a side project that he tinkered with, on-and-off, for several years before launching the site late this summer.
With Library Gadget, registered users can add all the library cards they or their families have (for participating libraries) to one account. Once that process is completed, visiting Library Gadget's website takes users directly to a consolidated list of everything that's checked out across all their cards, sorted by due date. If users have the premium plan (which costs $1.49 annually per card), Library Gadget checks their library cards every night and attempts to renew anything that's within two days of being due. Premium users also get an email alerting them of anything that’s either almost due or overdue, as well as a notification of anything that was auto-renewed.
By year's end, Peterson plans "to add several hundred libraries," and in the immediate future he intends to ramp up marketing efforts on behalf of Library Gadget.
"In fact," he said of that marketing push, "I just checked out a marketing book from the library!"