Solving the problem of forgetting to take back library books, and having fun doing it…

Problem

With access to 4 library cards, each with 30 book capacity, that’s a whopping 120 books we can take out. The current “reminder” system from our local library involves emailing you 2 days before it’s due, and then 1 week AFTER it’s due (and you’ve picked up fines). We’re currently sitting at around $20 worth of fines and that’s not good at all.

Solution

Throw technology at the problem!

I built an end to end system using a Python, NodeJS and PushBullet. Allowing me to…

  • access a RESTful service to get info on current taken out books, per library card and…
  • send notifications as books approach due date.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Scrape web site for data, using Python with HTMLParser to log in and extract the latest book data from the website, dumping it as a JSON string.
  2. Create a NodeJS service to wrap the Python data request and expose it as a RESTful service.

Tada… now we get notified via PushBullet (https://www.pushbullet.com/) whenever books are about to become due.

Code available on GitHub

Remember, it ain’t pretty, but it works 🙂

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