This week you’ll learn about phenomenal LibraryThing!
What is LibraryThing?
LibraryThing is a wildly popular web site for creating and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists. Created by programmer Tim Spalding and supported by librarian Abby Blachly and a crack team of techies, LibraryThing has become the premier social book site on the web. Its users are called “Thingamabrarians.”
Here’s how it works. You can sign up and sign in in one step by providing a username and password (LibraryThing takes privacy very seriously, so they don’t ask for any personal info). You may add up to 200 books for free, or pay for an unlimited yearly or lifetime membership.
When you add a book to your LibraryThing account, the book is automatically cataloged by importing data from libraries and booksellers. Six Amazon.com stores and over 80 libraries supply basic book information. If you can’t find the correct book, you can add it manually.
So far, so good, right? Well, there’s much more! After you catalog your books, you can tag them. (Stef and Joy will get into tagging in more depth next week, but for now, just consider a tag a simple label you can make up.) You can add cover art. You can write reviews. You can add a LibraryThing badge or a “random book widget” to your blog’s sidebar. You can compare your library with other people’s collections and comment on the profiles of your LibraryThing “soulmates.”
As you can see, LibraryThing has the potential to be the ultimate readers’ advisory tool. They make it even easier with their “Suggester” feature. The Suggester provides book recommendations based on users’ catalogs with similar books. Conversely, the “Unsuggester” lists books it thinks you won’t like, and is good for more than a few laughs!
The Suggester works by leveraging the massive amount of Thingamabrarians’ participation to find truly smart recommendations. Unlike Amazon.com, which just looks at what you’ve recently bought (which can include random gifts that skew your results), LibraryThing uses the richer data gleaned from comparing users’ whole libraries.
Finally, LibraryThing loves libraries and works with them on exciting projects such as “LibraryThing for Libraries” (LTFL). LTFL is a way for libraries to integrate LibraryThing tags and recommendations into their catalogs. See it in action at any of these libraries and check it out for yourself! (Some books won’t have the extra LTFL data - if all else fails, search Danbury PL’s catalog for Harry Potter and scroll down.
There are a few other social book sites out there which deserve mention.
Shelfari allows people to catalog their books, and puts more emphasis on the social aspects of interacting with other members. goodreads is another, reviewed briefly at infodoodads. Finally, Revish has the added feature of a reading journal that you can use to keep track of what you’ve read.
Assignment and Tasks
- Create a LibraryThing account and add at least 5 books. (Speed tip: when adding books, try scanning the publisher’s barcode with a regular circ scanner wand - it worked like a charm when I tried it.)
- Write a blog post that:
a. links to your LibraryThing account
b. reflects on a couple strengths and weaknesses of LT
c. lists a book you have or like, and a book that the Suggester (or Unsuggester!) recommends.
Fun extra: FOR DUMMIES book cover generator
Since this is a bookish week, we thought you’d enjoy this one: supply your own title & cover info, and the Dummiez Book Cover Maker 2007 will generate a “For Dummies” book cover image. They say you can even buy your image as a fridge magnet!Tags: book cover generator, booklists, catalogs, LibraryThing, readers advisory, reviews, social cataloging, social networking, Suggestor, tags, UnSuggestor