As you can see above, I have had some great fun and success with figuring out LibraryThing. My library can be found here. I haven’t added everything that I own but I reckon what I’ve put together represents my reading tastes pretty well.
I found setting up my LibraryThing profile and adding books to be very easy. The only criticism that I have is that when I searched for certain books, the cover that I have did not come up no matter how hard I tried and sometimes no cover came up at all so I have been left with a blank generic cover instead. It looks fine, but just annoyed me a bit as some of the now blank books have some nice covers. Anyway, aside from the personal excitement, I can definitely see how appropriate this service could be to the world of libraries.
For somewhere such as the UL, I feel that is might be a bit trickier to apply directly but then we could always use it for the Cambridge University Press books that we often display for our exhibitions, such as all the war books we have to tie in with the amazing Siegfried Sassoon exhibit. For smaller libraries however, it would be ideal. The perfect application that I can think of would an online display of all the new books a library has received. Another application could be nearer to exam term or at the beginning of a new academic year. As LibraryThing has the option to create different collections within your virtual library, subject-based departmental libraries would be able to set up collections for specific course modules or year groups and then add a sample or overview of the books available for those students. By using the information that course tutors provide through their annual reading lists, librarians could transfer this directly onto LibraryThing and hey presto! Students can find what they need even quicker than before!
In addition to the application of LibraryThing, I am reminded of the Clay Shirky article on tagging that we all read for Thing 8. I raised some points about the risks of allowing users to tag things such as OPAC entries and how the control of such activities could be complex. In the context of LibraryThing, I think that being able to tag an online library that is not as…critical as OPAC could be a good compromise. Readers could have effective input onto a collection that wouldn’t directly affect the running of a library in the way that potentially messing with OPAC would. Maybe I’m creating problems that may never even come about, but as a lot of freeware and other such online development often comes out of the web-based world, having something as organic as reader-input in the LibraryThing situation would be a perfect application of the often beneficial method of tagging.
Overall, a big thumbs-up to LibraryThing and to Cam23 for introducing me to such an excellent bit of kit! This is definitely something that I will use in my personal time and hopefully introduce at an appropriate time to the library environment too.