Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thing 13: This Thing...That Thing....Library Thing!

Spooktastic congratulations from your Coach! We've completed the first half of our run together and to celebrate, this week's Things show us a bit of the lighter side of the social web.

First, though, could you please all take five minutes and fill out our midway survey? It's a few short questions on what you think of the class so far and how you're faring with these Things. Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly....and then it's on to Thing 13.

LibraryThing is a book cataloging site that began as a way for folks to keep track of all the books in their home libraries, but it quickly became much more. To date, over 32 million titles have been cataloged by 500,000 members; each title has user reviews, useful information, descriptions and tags. Tags are user-created terms that help searchers find what they're looking for, based on phrases that other readers think will be helpful. Tags not only identify the content, but also describe the less tangible aspects of the book.

Let's start with a traditional request for this time of year: "I want to read something scary."

Starting from the Search tab, we can enter "scary" as a tag search. Our choices are plenty, but equally importantly, LibraryThing gives us related tags for further searching. Just click on one to get another list of suggestions.

For more traditional searching, you can also use a list of related subjects to find what you're looking for.

Good searching is only the tip of the LT iceberg: users can form groups around genres or authors, discussion forums allow for good conversation, and the zeitgeist page puts all sorts of stats at your fingertips.

A recent LT development is LibraryThing for Libraries, a service that institutions can overlay on top of their existing OPACs to bring LibraryThing tools to patrons. Check out the Danbury (CT) Library's use of LTfL in their catalog.

LibraryThing was one of the first book cataloging sites/social networks, but others have followed. GoodReads and Shelfari are stand-alone sites, and Visual Bookshelf is a Facebook application that does much the same thing. (Here's a neat comparison of LibraryThing and Visual Bookshelf.)

Discovery Activity
Poke around in LibraryThing or another book-based social network and find some spooky reads for the weekend. Choose one or two and share them with your running mates in a post. Feel free to link to the title record if you're able to.

Many of you may have already Gone the Extra Mile and signed up with one of these services. If you have, care to share your libraries with us?

Meanwhile, we'll press on from scary reads to spooky goings-on-about-town with Thing 14: Right In Your Own Backyard....

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