Monday, June 4, 2007

Library Thing

I love LT. I love it as a librarian, and as a person who loves books. I can't stop suggesting it to my patrons, library staff, and random people on the street.

With that, I will explain.

For the last year and a half, I have heard people comment about how much they loved using Library Thing, "Oh," they said, "You can be a big nerd and catalog your own books!" Or, "You can use it to find out what your friends are reading!" Or, "You can link to your library thing bookshelf from other pages!" Well, I knew all of that was true, but I finally have had the time to explore it.

In an earlier blog from library school, I posted this:
In an epiphanous moment as I showed my mother how to access Novelist, I realized that my friends and family, even ones who use the library, often don't know about databases. My mother found that because Novelist offers a cleaner interface, it is actually easier to use than Amazon (the only bummer is that it does not link directly to her library's catalog :( ).

Well, since then, I've grown up.

In the past, I have been an avid user of Novelist at the reference desk. It's been great for quickly listing off an entire series, or organizing an author's work in a more cohesive manner. But you know what? At the reference desk, it takes at least four clicks to get to the resource itself, and quite a few more if I am trying to explain to a patron how to access it from home. In addition, it is quite feisty when it comes to misspellings. On the other hand, Amazon is amazing when I THINK I know a title, but I am not quite sure of the exact words. But, by the same token, if I am trying to organize the titles by publication date instead of popularity, it is not an easy task.

Then here comes Library thing--a resource that I thought was only useful to catalog individuals' books at home. Little did I know, that after falling deeply and passionately in love with it, I realize that LT will grow with me, and allow me to provide better reference services to my patrons.

But don't trust me! I'm a late bloomer! My friends have been swearing by it for months. In fact, here are some other people who can offer their expert opinions on why this is such a fabulous tool:

Stephen Downs posted this about LT on May 14th of this year on his blog, OUseful Info:

Step in, Library Thing. For those of you who don't know about Library Thing, err, you should... ;-) It's a bit like your own personal library catalogue, a bit like delicious for books.

It offers user tagging, reviews and related books; personal bookshelves/collections; and social "book club" like discussion groups.

And now, it's for libraries too: Library Thing for Libraries. Like for the libraries in Danbury, Connecticut, for example.

So what does it offer? basically, an augmentation of the default library catalogue view with the following Library Thing sourced data:

# Book recommendations. Show high-quality "recommended" or "similar" books.
# Tag browsing. Give your patrons the power and flexibility of searching and browsing your books by tags.
# User reviews and ratings. Add hundreds of thousands of high-quality user reviews. Give your patrons the ability to add their own.
# FREE: Other editions and translations. Link related editions and translations of the same work.

And this from one of my favorite posters, Sarah Houghton, the LibrarianInBlack:

June 01, 2006 Subject Headings vs. Tagging

Library Thing (one of the coolest things since sliced bread--see here for a description of it) has two blogs: the regular blog, and the Thing-ology blog, where they discuss "the philosophy and methods of tags, libraries and suchnot." A recent entry discussed the relative benefits of subject headings vs. tagging. It's a great summary of the pros and cons of each and good reading for people who feel strongly about the superiority of either. To me, each has its place and each has its merits. I do think that by the time I am done with my career in librarianship (say, in 30 years), tagging will have largely replaced subject headings, whether librarians like it or not.

Library Thing is functional, interactive, and even slightly humorous (check out these BAD recommendations based on the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck!). It takes the best things about a library and makes them accessible and social. It's like a library catalog paired with a cup of coffee and your best friend's book recommendation. And at the reference desk, it's an incredibly easy resource to demonstrate for reluctant or new internet users. For those of you who have been a bit nervous to try it, Do it! If your library is smart, they will be using it too...

What I'm reading today...

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. Theme: Poetry breaks down barriers, and allows students to identify with each other's vulnerabilities. Like Angela Johnson, Nikki Grimes gives each character a strong voice. Thumbs up!

1 comment:

liz said...

Sweet! I hadn't thought of using LT at the reference desk-- I can't wait to go to work tomorrow and try it out. Our catalog searching interface is HORRIFIC, and I always have to us to get the ISBN and go from there. This could be a big help.

-Liz from Literacy Class, now in Baltimore.