Monday, April 09, 2007

Sneak peek: LibraryThing for Libraries

Over on Thingology I give a sneak peek of the upcoming LibraryThing for Libraries feature—putting LibraryThing in library catalogs.


Blogger kageeh said...

So I love this! My public library uses the same Horizon program NYPL does. But how do I get my library to want this? It has its own book suggester though it's not nearly as good as yours.

4/09/2007 4:38 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Hey, what library. I'd love to send them a note, and to check out what they have.

4/09/2007 4:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Unless you're talking about a furtive mountain, the phrase you're looking for is "sneak peek".

4/09/2007 6:37 PM  
Blogger K said...

And I thought I was a compulsive proofreader...

4/09/2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does this add? Similar and related searches have been available features in many vendor's catalogs for a while. Links are based on the Library of Congress subject headings in the record.

When libraries aren't using features, it's not for lack of know-how. It's more because of staff shortages--not enough people to complete and maintain the work.

4/09/2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger Tim said...


(1) I need to be cleared on "related editions." It's not related searches. It's other editions of the same work. Most library catalogs do not have this concept. The bib records are all separate, and if one edition of something is out the user is not necessarily aware of the others.

(2) LibraryThing's recommendations are almost always better than an LCSH. Take the example above. NYPL doesn't use such a feature, but if it did, it would be juggling 3,000+ results. And does the reader of Harry Potter really want any old thing that falls under the topic "Schools -- Fiction"? The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie anyone?

4/09/2007 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The concept is present in title, added title and uniform title. Searches such as that are being used. Your work does give it more prominence, makes it more friendly. The LCSH features can be narrowed using different combinations of headings.

These are nice, but when will the promised features for LT be arriving?

4/09/2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I think that what is possible needs to have better contact with what is done, and with how well it can be done.

While it is true that LCSH can be narrowed, LCSH is not a similar books algorithm. The reasons are many, but here's a few.

(1) Similarity of subject matter is not the same thing as similarity of interest. Someone who enjoyed Neuromancer is not necessarily interested in other books classed "Nervous system -- Wounds and injuries -- Fiction." The reader of Armistead Maupin's _Tales of the City_ is not necessarily looking for more on "City and Town Life -- Humorous stories."
(2) the links point more in one direction than another--they are added to indicate the "best" three of four subjects of a book, rather than forming the "best" list of books about something.
(3) They do not reflect how readers see the world and its books. If you loved Bridget Jones's Diary, LibraryThing's tag "chick lit" or its recommendations for a particular chick lit book-—which are somewhat interrelated--are a better way find other books you might like than "Love stories."
(4) LCSH has no concept of relevance. The 2000-odd "School -- Fiction" books in the NYPL are all *equally* about school fiction. And don't get me started on "Man-woman relationships"—a mere 200 items in the LC, but isn't 95% of Western literature about it?

As for Uniform Titles, they do exist. I have never seen a catalog that uses them to display other editions of the same work, although one could certainly exist. Most efforts use more explicit FRBRization, drawing on an algorithm which may partially use uniform titles, on xISBN or thingISBN.


4/09/2007 8:49 PM  
Blogger kageeh said...

Washington Centerville Public Library Administrative Offices - 937/435-7375 (phone) - 937/433-1366 (fax).

Washington-Centerville Public Library was ranked 1st in the nation among libraries of similar size and larger four years in a row and, in 2002, 1st among libraries of similar size and 2nd among the nation's 7,000 libraries.
Per capita circulation averages 42 items - 3 times that of the national average! And this is for a township of over 25,000 people in the unincorporated area, and another 21,000 in the incorporated area (City of Centerville).

The library uses NoveList to
discover new fiction books from a 96,000 title database, searchable by author, subject, or genre. Youmust convince them that LT is much better!

4/10/2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Oh yeah, NovelList.

The trick is, LibraryThing will remain just as free as ever. Libraries can take advantage of it by just _linking out_. That's how NovelList works—and they charge for it!

I think they succeed because, although bad, they can claim librarians were involved in the selection of books. LibraryThing's recommendations are statistical.

4/10/2007 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My twelve year old daughter, who is a heavy reader and library addict, on seeing the LT for libraries mockup immediately said "Oh, this is very useful!" and proceeded to explain to me why! She wishes our library (Santa Clara Country Library) which seems to use the same software as NYPL will do this! May be we will go and show this to our local branch! -- bvs on LT

4/11/2007 1:58 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

>Oh yeah, NovelList.

Well, in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing (like, say, it's developer :-), NovelList can be a powerful tool. But if you don't know its ins-and-outs (like, say, 99.9% of the rest of the population) it can be quite frustrating.

That's where LibraryThing's recommendations are a huge improvement - they make self-service possible when looking for another book like the one you just enjoyed!

4/11/2007 3:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I will contact you through my work e-mail.

The Randolph County Public Library is VERY interested in adding LibraryThing to our catalog. We do use Sirsi/Dynix Horizon, so we hope it won't be too painful.


4/12/2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

We saw this link and would love to beta test your product with our catalog.

We are an innovative site-

Please let me know what the next steps would be to get it loaded on our test catalog-


4/23/2007 12:22 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Hey Lisa. Let me know if you didn't get an email from me.

4/23/2007 2:25 PM  

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