LibraryThing for Libraries

I blogged about LibraryThing a couple of years ago as a great tool for readers. But it’s also a great tool for libraries.

One of the very popular programs presented at the library where I work is a series called Brown Bag Book Reviews. Staff members review some of their latest finds while the audience snacks on cookies or eats their lunch. It’s a great way for patrons to pick up some new titles and authors, and they love to hear the reviews.

In our last web incarnation, I had put the lists of the books reviewed on our site – basically, a separate list for each date we did the reviews. Books were listed alphabetically by author – not an easy way to find something you’re looking for, but better than nothing as I worked on building a searchable database. The idea was to come up with a way for patrons who, for example, loved everything reviewed by Carol, to easily find all Carol’s titles. Or if they missed last January’s review program, they could sort the data to find everything reviewed that date.

It occurred to me recently that everything I was trying to put into the database (title, author, reviewer’s name, review date) was able to be done easily on LibraryThing, with no need for me to try to become a master at MySQL or PHP. I had one of those “D’oh!” moments.

I brought this up at a meeting and one of our new librarians enthusiastically jumped at the chance to create our Brown Bag LibraryThing catalog, and tagged the items for easy sorting.

Take a look at our catalog and see what we’ve all been reading. If your library maintains lists of titles for various things, this is a great way to put it out there for the public.

It’s a Library Thing

A co-worker just turned me on to librarything.com, a great website for anyone who loves books. As stated on the site, LibraryThing is a place to “Enter what you’re reading or your whole library—it’s an easy, library-quality catalog. LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things.”

It’s a great way to keep track of titles you’ve read, or to list titles that you haven’t gotten to yet.

Signing up at this free site is easy, and once you’ve logged in you can type a title or author into a search box (and it’s very forgiving if you don’t remember exact name) and select your book from the list that comes up. The book is added to your library and you can rate it, write a review and add tags to decide for yourself how to categorize it.

The fun thing is that you can then find other users who have read the same book and look at their libraries, or find other books that are tagged similarly to your own.

I highly recommend creating an account and exploring. It’s fun and it’s easy! For years we’ve had patrons at our library asking for a way to keep a list of what they’ve already read. Now they have it. And for the books I haven’t gotten to yet, but which I want to keep track of and get to eventually, I’m going to tag as “unread.”