Friday, October 16, 2009

Thing #8 - a thing about LibraryThing

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? 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. There is even a LibraryThing for Libraries available that works inside library catalogs, too.

So why not join the fun and create your own library online? With over 680,000 registered users and over 44 million cataloged books in LibraryThing as of September 2009, you're bound to discover something new.

Discovery Resources:

* About LibraryThing

* Library Thing tour

To complete this challenge:

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. 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. Go to the Search page on LibraryThing and do a Tag Mash search. A tag mash is when you search two subjects like sailing and mystery together (called a mashup). LibraryThing finds books with both subjects or as Librarything calls them: 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. This is great place to find that book a customer sort of remembers that had a detective who was a librarian! When you enter the terms in the Tags search box, separate the terms with commas: librarian, detective.

If you really want to learn everything about TagMash searching in LibraryThing there is a detailed help page but if you remember to separate search terms with a comma you should do fine. If you decide to try Library Thing's other search features, there is detailed help page for that, too.

Sample Tagmash search:

Some results from the librarian, detective TagMash

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

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