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Web 2.0 Tool Review: LibraryThing

March 17, 2008

Greetings VAPL colleagues!

In the past few years, we’ve been striving to connect with patrons through the web. We’ve also been trying to expand our web presence. Many social networking tools exist to make this happen. One such tool is called LibraryThing. I will give a short explanation of LibraryThing and explain why it can be useful to us at VAPL.

What is LibraryThing? In short, it is a website that allows users to catalog the books they have in their library. How does a LibraryThing user get started? All you need to do is sign up, and start adding books to your library. Users add books by clicking the “add books” tab. Then enter the title, author, or ISBN in the search box. LibraryThing automatically searches Amazon, and other libraries to find the book you’re looking for. After you’ve entered books into your library, you can do all sorts of things like assign tags to books, sort your books, add reviews, rate the books, and edit book information. Each book has a social information page that tells you the users that have a certain book, and what they think of it. Besides keeping track of the books in your own library, LibraryThing allows users to connect with each other by using the profile. A user profile tells other LibraryThing users about themselves and their libraries, and the profile can be kept private.

Many public libraries across the country have created catalogs on LibraryThing. These libraries use their LibraryThing catalogs in many different ways. The McCracken County Public Library in Paducah, KY includes both award-winning books, and books that are on featured lists from YALSA in their catalog. The Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library has an impressive 2,231 books in their LibraryThing library. The books in their library consist of a small selection of books in their children’s room. The Pima County Public Library in Tuscon, AZ uses their LibraryThing library for reader’s advisory. Their tags consist of reading recommendations, staff picks, and book club books.

How can we utilize LibraryThing here at VAPL? LibraryThing’s tagline is “What’s on your bookshelf?” By creating a catalog of books in LibraryThing, we can show users what we have on our bookshelves at VAPL. The list of tags we can use on LibraryThing is endless! Tags like new fiction, new non-fiction, staff picks, book club, youth easy readers, and youth picture books can be used. Tags based on various subject headings can also be used to let users know what books we have in our collection.  Besides adding tags, we can rate the books in our collection, and write reviews. The book ratings and reviews will assist us when recommending books to patrons. Using LibraryThing would also help connect VAPL to other LibraryThing users.

Utilizing LibraryThing would help us to achieve our goals of connecting with patrons, and expanding our web presence.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 18, 2008 10:16 am

    We actually have a couple thousand more which are starting to represent the Young Adult Room as well!

    We love Library Thing!
    Sara Slymon
    Branch Librarian
    Mattapan Branch
    Boston Public Library

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