Creating a BibTeX file from a Google Library


27 March 2008


As you will have seen if you poke around these pages, I have a Google Library of books in statistics and forecasting. This is intended to be a complete copy of what is on the shelves in my office (about 400 books), plus books that I would like on my shelves if I had more space.

I find the library useful for keeping track of books that my students and colleagues borrow (I just add a tag containing their name to the book). It is also useful when searching for a book on a particular topic, especially as Google provides content searches of many books.

Similar facilities are provided by LibraryThing, but I find the Google Books interface nicer to use and it also has the in-text searching which is amazing.

Recently I thought it would be useful to create a BibTeX file of these books. Unfortunately, Google does not provide a BibTeX export of books (unlike Google Scholar where there is a very handy BibTeX export facility). In the improbable event that anyone else attempts this, here is how I did it.

  1. I exported my Google library as an xml file.

  2. I signed up for a life-time LibraryThing account for US$25. Not that I wanted to use LibraryThing, but there is a BibTeX export facility which I wanted to use.

  3. I imported my Google Library into LibraryThing simply by uploading the xml file saved earlier.

  4. I waited for a while for the library to be created. (I’m not sure how long it was because I had a tea-break, but it was less than 30 minutes.)

  5. I went to / where I followed the prompts to save my LibraryThing as an xls file, then to convert it to a bib file.

  6. I loaded the bib file into JabRef to autogenerate the bibtex keys using the pattern I use (e.g., “Hyndman08” for a single author paper in 2008 and HKOS08 for the book by Hyndman, Koehler, Ord and Snyder in 2008.)

  7. Then there was a lot of editing of the bib file to remove duplicates, etc.


  • LibraryThing is hopeless at identifying all the authors. Often it just lists the first author. I couldn’t find any way around that. So my bib file has lots of entries with only the first author listed. I’ll have to fix these by hand over time.

  • The titles often contain extraneous information such as edition numbers, series information, etc. Again, this will require some manual editing.

  • I can’t see any way of updating my bib file as I add books to my Google Library. Does anyone have any bright ideas?