Friday, April 4, 2008

Thing #11 - A thing about Library Thing

Are you a booklover? Do you enjoy finding lost and forgotten gems to read? Would you like an easy way to keep track of what you've read or want to read? Or, would you like a way of finding books by what they're about in a way that a standard library catalog just can't? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you.

What is Librarything? Enter what you're reading or your whole library —LibraryThing is an easy to use book catalog created by people in classic Web 2.0 fashion. LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things.

Add a book to your catalog by just entering the title and doing a little clicking. The LibraryThing tour explains the details. Then you add your own subjects or tags to organize your titles. The tags can be whatever you want: "Want to read", "Bookclub", "Recommend to grandchildren", "Books for Class" as well as more familiar subject heading like "Science", "Mystery", "Nonfiction" or "Cookbooks." Connecting with other users through your similar reading tastes is easy. LibraryThing tells you how many other LibraryThing users have your books. There are lots of other ways to use LibraryThing, too.

Libraries have started using LibraryThing. Small libraries are using LibraryThing to catalog their collections. Libraries are using the LibraryThing widget on their web pages to recommend books and list new titles.

So why not join the fun and create your own library online? With over 389,000 registered users and over 25 million cataloged books in LibraryThing as of March 2008, you're bound to discover something new. The podcast below from The Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a little outdated in its statistics but otherwise is worth listening to as a start for your thing about Library Thing.

Listen to this podcast [1:52]-->

Discovery Resources:

About LibraryThing
Library Thing tour
LibraryThing blog (updates & news)
* How
libraries are using LibraryThing

Discovery Exercise:

1. Take the Library Thing tour around
LibraryThing and then create an account. It is one of the easiest and quickest accounts to sign up for yet. You don't even have to give them an email. (Giving them your email is recommended because if you ever do forget your password, then they can help).

2. Add a least 5 books to your library. You find a title, click add to your library, then type in your subjects (called tags in LibraryThing) and save. Separate different tags with commas.

3. Blog about your use of LibraryThing. Be sure to link to your LibraryThing catalog on your blog. How popular were your books? Did you find any discussions about your favorites?

Optional Advanced Exercises

1. Visit a library catalog that uses LibraryThing to give their customers lists of similiar books and tags for more connections. Here's a list from the LibraryThing website of libraries or go directly to these examples: a Harry Potter title, a nonfiction title on economics called Freakonomics

2. Go to the Search page on LibraryThing and do a Tag Mash search. You search two terms like sailing and mystery together (called a mashup) and LibraryThing finds books with both tags. Tags assigned by LibraryThing users aren't as formal as Library of Congress headings but they often include topics in books that the LC headings ignore. So you can find really interesting connections and ideas on what to read next or that book a customer sort of remembers had a detective who was an librarian! When you enter the terms in the Tags search box, separate the terms with commas: librarian, detective. Try out your own Tag Mash.

3. Explore the
groups of LibraryThing users. They range from I see Dead People's Books (A group for those interested and involved in entering the library catalogs of famous readers, including books owned by Thomas Jefferson) to Nonfiction Readers and Crime, Thriller & Mystery fans. In the groups there are discussion threads and a list of the most commonly shared books of the group members.

For Thing #11, our thanks go not only to the
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County but also to the Minnesota Libraries whose variation of the 23 things on a stick was very helpful.

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