LibraryThing

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Contents

Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017

Introduction

See also LibGuides from Springshare | Pinterest | Social cataloguing | Social media aggregators | Social media landscape | Social tagging |Tag clouds in the OPAC: a starting point

"...the thing that makes social cataloging not social networking is this: their model is you're my friend/you're not my friend. Maybe you're a friend of a friend. Not that it's bad, but our concept is: I share forty books of architecture with you, but no novels. It's a more nuanced approach." ~ LibraryThing founder, Tim Spaulding
  • LibraryThing is an online 2.0 bookclub that allows members to create personal libraries of books.

Attributes & Features

The LibraryThing website hosts ~45 million books and 850,000 members; membership is free for the first 200 books, $10.00 per year or $25.00 for a lifetime membership. No login is required for browsing.

Members can:

  • create lists of books
  • review, rate and recommend books
  • connect with other users
  • create or join groups
  • find or post local book events in their area
  • create widgets for their blogs
  • share their reviews on Facebook

Using LibraryThing

LibraryThing members can interact in a discussion forum which hosts booklists, reviews, book clubs, etc. These features are accessed through two main areas on the front page:

Talk

The talk page is a good way to interact with the wider LibraryThing community and to see which groups are the best to join. It is a simple, text-based message forum that aggregates discussion from the groups into one large list.

Groups

Contains links to forums, with a list of discussion topics and members; provides usage statistics on group membership, and sorts groups into categories:

  • Standing groups
  • Member Projects
  • Newest groups
  • Groups with the most members
  • Most active Talk

LibraryThing for Libraries

LibraryThing for Libraries is a paid service which allows the integration of LibraryThing into OPACS. The service comes with 300,000 reviews. According to LibraryThing for Libraries, there are 1512 libraries using the service, including consortia and branch libraries. Libraries have a choice of purchasing the Reviews package or Catalog Enhancements package, or both. The Reviews package comes with over 300,000 reviews, allows patrons to add reviews right in the library catalog and create a blog widget or use a Facebook application to bring their review to another audience. The Enhancements package has tag browsing (all tags come from LibraryThing), reader recommendations and links to other editions of the same book.

Ways Libraries Use LibraryThing

Libraries have used LT for various functions extending beyond Social Cataloguing, including:

  • hosting online book clubs (through groups)
  • posting their library events
  • creating book lists, including bibliographies for patrons and wishlists for collection development
  • find book recommendations for patrons, or teach patrons how to use LibraryThing to find books
  • as an online catalogue, or incorporated into existing OPAC
  • to connect with other librarians (e.g. through the Librarians who LibraryThing group)
  • to prioritize ordering and monitor processing of new acquisitions

Criticisms

Although existing library literature indicates general satisfaction with LibraryThing, some areas of concern include:

  • LibraryThing supports books only, not A/V.
    • although LTFL allows patrons to review non-book items in the libraries catalog
  • lack of backend integration may limit ability of library staff to innovate and share new features
  • staff time to monitor reviews and forums may be lengthy
  • as with any folksonomy, there's a possibility that tagging will obscure items or mislead patrons
  • LT for Libraries does not have a real-time connection with library catalogues so lists of ISBNs have to be sent to LTFL and records uploaded

Libraries using Librarything

  • Papercut Zine Library, Boston, MA uses LibraryThing as a catalogue
  • Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA incorporates LT into their OPAC
  • Boise State University has liaison librarians use LT for subject-specific collections management
  • Birmingham Groves High School Media Center Librarian uses it to administer a Reading in Literature course co-taught with English Department faculty member to senior level students

References

  • Fontichiaro K. Is LibraryThing actually useful in a library media center? School Libr Media Activities Monthly. 2008;5:28-29.
  • Kozel-Gains M. Experiments and experiences in liaison activities: lessons from new librarians in integrating technology, face-to-face and follow-up. Collect Manage. 2009;34(2):130-142.
  • LibraryThing adds reviews to OPACs. Library Journal. 2008;133(19):20.
  • LibraryThing Founder Q&A: Tim Spaulding. Searcher. 2007;15:7.
  • Sibley R. The librarian who loves LibraryThing. School Library Media Activities Monthly. 2009;XXV(8):20-21.
  • Westcott J, Chappell A, Lebel C. LibraryThing for libraries at Claremont. Library Hi Tech. 2009;27(1):78-81.
  • What's new, LibraryThing? Searcher. 2008;16(6):44-45.
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