Is "the Python Standard library" book worth the money?

Terry Hancock hancock at
Fri Oct 25 18:22:48 CEST 2002

On Thursday 24 October 2002 02:37 am,  Alessandro Bottoni wrote:
> I have seen that there is a book on the Python standard library (By
> Fredrick Lundh, published by O'Reilly).
> Do you think it can be a useful reference book to keep on the desk?
> Is it something more than a printed copy of the STDLIB HTML documentation
> that came with the Python package?
> Does it contains any information that is not already available on the
> Python web sites?

IMHO, it is *more*, but not *less*.  The book doesn't have the completeness
of the Python Library Reference, which I find to be more useful (I generally
use the online version, though I have a printed copy from 1.5.2 that I still
use occasionally).  I have Lundh's "Python Standard Library", but I really
don't use it much, because I frequently find that I need stuff it doesn't

> Does it contain any example of use of the described modules?

This is the book's strength -- think of it as a *brief* guided tour of
the library modules.  I found it to be far too cursory, but it may be
very useful if you are really new and looking for a quick survey of
modules.  (Too often though, for me, Lundh's example was just too
far from what I wanted to do to be much use, and I just had to
work from the "Library Reference").

Certainly example code and "What's it for?" are the things missing from
the official Python "Library Reference", which often shows an API with
little or no explanation of the design philosophy behind it (sometimes I
think they are assuming you know from experience with other languages).
Of course, this has been improving gradually from version to version, as 
people contribute How-Tos .

As a quick-reference book, I would actually recommend O'Reilly's tiny
"Python Pocket Reference" which has quick one-paragraph explanations
of the most commonly used functions in the most commonly used modules.
It lacks complete documentation for some less-used modules (e.g. StringIO), 
though. Combined with the most current "Library Reference", I find it to be 
very useful.

I haven't seen the "Python Cookbook" or "Python Essential Reference" yet,
so I can't comment on those, though some people apparently like them
a lot.


Terry Hancock ( hancock at )
Anansi Spaceworks

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