This month the focus of my ProGen study group is on building a personal genealogy library. My studymate Melinda was gracious enough to post her assignment early by way of a link to her online library catalog at LibraryThing.com and the rest of us are shamelessly borrowing her pretty marvelous find.
It goes without saying that, as a keeper of a blog, I LOVE the written word and, as an avid reader and writer, I’ve amassed, as I imagine a lot of bloggers have, quite a collection of books over the years. My house is bursting at the seams with books: many on overstuffed bookshelves; stacks balanced on spare chairs; the ever growing collection of must-reads on my night stand; lists of recommended titles I’d like to read but don’t own yet, tucked into my book club journal ; and bags in the garage, filled with books I’ve read but, for a variety of reasons, feel are ready to be donated to Friends of the Library. One reason is the dreaded “bought a 2nd copy because I forgot I already owned it.” Because my books are EVERYWHERE, it’s sometimes months before I come across the second copy - long past the point of no return…hate that.
My solution of late has been the Book Cataloque app on my Android phone. I love it. It’s essentially a database of all my books, which I was easily able to create by typing in my books by title, ISBN, or (my favorite way) by using my phone’s scanner to grab the book’s bar code – yeah, way cool!! But…. no desktop or online companion software. So, while Book Catalogue is great when I need quick access to my library and have my phone handy (which is usually always, but still…..) I can’t access the books from my laptop, the Internet, or share my library list with a friend via email.
Except for its lack of a mobile app, LibraryThing does all of the above. Beautifully. My online library lists can be public or private. I can organize the books into collections, and add tags to search on. There’s a wish list feature and cool things like an animated blog widget – which I’ve added down the right sidebar here. (NOTE: the widget is sort of rendering correctly in Chrome, but is not looking right in Explorer, so at this point, if I can’t tweak it myself, I’ll have to remove it from the sidebar until the widget gets an update.) I can see ratings, reviews, and the general popularity of all the titles in my library, and I can even connect with others who like the same books!
Book Catalogue exports its list in a csv format, which made it quick and easy for me to populate my “testing the waters” LibraryThing account by simply importing the csv file. For now, I’ve got a public account for my genealogy library and a private account for my personal books, mainly because I’m slightly concerned people might find me dorky if they notice I have more than 30 titles in the grammar category What I’d really like to see in LibraryThing is the capability to change the security setting at the collection level and since this application is still in the beta stage, we may see that feature before too long. Actually, in a perfect world, Book Catalogue would sync with LibraryThing and then I’d have everything I want, except for the Canadian birth record of my great grandfather, but I digress….
So, if you haven’t seen LibraryThing, take a look. If you’ve tried it and don’t care for it, I’d love to hear why. And if you’ve come across something better, I’d love to hear that too!