Archive for May, 2008

Friday, May 30th, 2008

BookExpo America, day 1

BookExpo America is turning out great. I did a talk, “What is LibraryThing and Why Should You Care?” (the program had some other title). It was refreshing to look at LibraryThing from a book-industry and publisher perspective again—most of my talks are aimed at libraries these days.

The talk was well attended, but not exactly crowded. I blame this on Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody), scheduled down the hall from me in the same time slot. Even I wanted to sneak out of my talk and go see his. Fortunately, Abby and I caught up with Clay afterwards, and we ended up going to dinner together. What a great dinner that was!

Tonight, we’re having a LibraryThing in LA meet-up. Come join us for a beer at the Library Bar at 7pm. It’s downtown, at 630 West 6th St (directions here).

Labels: bea

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

LibraryThing at BEA

We’re headed to LA in the morning, to attend BookExpo America. There’s a longer post on the main LT blog, but I wanted to quickly mention it some things too.

We’re booth-less (and fancy-free), but we’ll be walking around wearing our LibraryThing t-shirts. So if anyone wants to accost us, please do! If you’d prefer setting up a meeting, just drop us an email ( or

Tim’s giving a talk—4pm on Thursday. Location unknown (check your program?)

And last, but certainly not least, we’re having a meet-up while we’re in town. Friday, 7pm at the Library Bar. Come have a beer with us!

Labels: bea, meet-up

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Affable Hurt Bibliographer?

I recently discovered a wonderful “splog”—spam blog*—automatically created from a host of blog posts about LibraryThing for Libraries, most or all of them from posts by Kate Sheehan (Loose Cannon Librarian), who wondered whether she had perhaps written it during a very lost weekend.

Parts sound almost sane:

“LibraryThing adds three pieces relative to truth-function”

“Tags are not usually predominate. Subjects’ reign and delitescent all for hierarchical major orders cannot have being excepted. And, contrasting cute inessential systems, Danbury exceptionally to advantage aliases overused obligation, anodyne about speaking of the fetid problems”

“They causes your mescal button gig on route to pullulate for splendrous calcium. Okay, not that.”

(Okay, not that indeed!) Parts both insane and titilating:

“Turned-on? If your ghoulish rapport seeing LibraryThing in preparation for Libraries present-time your fill out, impart us an email at sandy”

“Studied that a check in is tagged “lambkin tanked” isn’t inevitably that sound. In any event prosper onwards the moniker, and oneself opens the Nip Browser in preference to rooster star-studded. The trim you gives amounts until dowhacky tied “The Peacock Soaked Pedantry Rise”–without Lauren Weisberger and Jennifer Weiner for Sophie Kinsella till Emma McLaughlin, all-inclusive nearby at the Danbury stock room.”

Will someone check the Danbury stock room, please? Something strange is going on in there.

*Unlinked to. Linking to splogs is a good way to tell Google you’re a splog too—you

Labels: strangeness

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The Nifty Fifty

big bucket of fifty chicken nuggetsWe’ve just hit our first major milestone: there are now 50 libraries using LibraryThing for Libraries. See the full list here. For a visual representation of what may be the opposite of LibraryThing for Libraries, but of the same number, look to the right.

We’re also pleased that number 50 is Portland Public Library, in LibraryThing’s hometown. We attended the implementation, and we’re happy to say that their bouncing baby catalog enhancements are doing just fine.

These first 50 libraries include early innovators like Seattle Public Library and San Francisco State University. It was satisfying to hear prospective libraries say they watch these innovators for emerging technology to look into, and that’s how they found out about us. Three cheers for word of blog.

We’re convinced that LTFL is a highly enriching supplement to the white bread that is the standard online catalog and we’re happy that we can create something that meshes with OPACs to make them more functional.

So what’s next? We’re getting the reviewing enhancement ready to show. If anyone wants to come check it out, we’ll be showing them off at the ALA annual conference. In the meantime, you can pat our backs at Book Expo America.

Thanks to deovolenti for the image.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, ltfl libraries, Portland Public Library, San Francisco State University, Seattle Public Library, web 2.0

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The Long Tail of Ann Coulter

Here is are two charts showing the distribution of customer tags on for Ann Coulter’s Godless: The Church of Liberalism. The first shows tags 1-25; the second all 881 tags.

The distribution is not too far from the classic “long tail” pattern common to social data. Although the common tags are common, fully 75% of the tags are used only once.

It’s an even better example of another characteristic of social data, that “user generated content” is all about context, not just object. LibraryThing members and Amazon customers are tagging the same book. But while, on LibraryThing, where you have to have a book to tag it, Godless has a fairly unremarkable tag cloud, touching on its subject matter and point of view, on Amazon, the tagging has devolved into a shouting match. I don’t think the people who tagged the book “asshat,” “vomit” or “w h o r e” are using tagging as a memory aid (“I forget—what books did I think are ‘asshat’ anyway?”). They’re using tagging as a sort of drive-by review.

Now, a case can be made that Amazon’s tags are signaling something important—this is a “controversial” book indeed! The LibraryThing tag cloud doesn’t show that as starkly. On balance, however, I think opinion tags corrupt the value of tagging. 

Either way, I think this example demonstrates that tagging isn’t a simple matter of putting users in front of taggable stuff.

Labels: tagging

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Penn Libraries make movies

Penn Libraries have put out a series of library movies: LibClips.* They are simultaneously terrifying and dangerously hysterical. The musical numbers take the cake, in my opinion.

You must go watch them now.

My favorites:
“Get it with BorrowDirect+” (he harmonizes with himself!)
“Find it a Click Away” (who hasn’t wished they were a floating head before? Man, can I relate)

Finally, I appreciate the captioning at the bottom. Makes karaoke easier.

But where is the aria for PennTags?

*hat-tip, my friend Adrienne

Labels: Uncategorized

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Best Venn diagram

The popular website Very Short List picked up our I See Dead People’s Books / Legacy Libraries for its daily feature. Great stuff.

Our Legacy Librares include such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, Sylvia Plath and Tupac Shakur.

VSL gives all of its stories a funny Venn diagram. I love ours!

Labels: legacy libraries, libraries of the dead, very short list