Tuesday, November 08, 2011


LibraryThing is a library-esque service for those interested in cataloging and managing an OPAC on an individual level. It is a user based cataloging and social networking site, something like Facebook but for books. LibraryThing is pretty easy to use no matter how big or small your collection might be. Members add in as much or as little information as they wish regarding tags, reviews, and even some light cataloging information like call numbers and book physical features. The books listed need not be owned to be added, if you have read it, or want to read it in the future, there is a place for it on LibraryThing.

One great feature of LibraryThing is the ability to categorize books by using tags. This allows a search via interest rather than by subject heading. A tag search is incredibly useful when looking for books that contain specific elements desired by the reader. For instance LibraryThing uses a style of search called “Tagmash” which looks for several tags listed together. The Tagmash then identifies books which possess all of those tags. Books which have been tagged repeatedly will come up higher in the results list. For example the tags “1990s,” “magic,” and “school” point toward several of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. The Tagmash search would simply be written out like this:

1990s, magic, school

The comma between each tag is needed for a successful search. Otherwise the search words would be looked for as one whole tag and not three separate tags.

There is also a recommendation feature LibraryThing bases upon your current collection. It compares your collection to other members who have similar collections of books and then makes suggestions based on the types of stories you and members with similar tastes prefer. For all of the above features and more, LibraryThing is free to browse and if you join you can add up to 200 books to your profile. A small fee is required if you want to add more than 200 books.

LibraryThing also has a very nice feature called LibraryThing Local which is a calendar list of library events in any given neighborhood. Not all library events are listed, but it is a good, quick general reference for events near you. The LibraryThing Local search can be modified by distance, location, library/bookstore/institution name, or by the type of event being held. These events are independent of member collections and can be browsed without an account.

I’ve had my own LibraryThing account for a few years now and really love being able to look at a virtual representation of the books I’ve had to box up and put away for the time being.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Wow! this sounds great. I would have never read about this if I hadn't done the Library Tech blog survey - see - do a good thing and a good thing comes back to you :)