Puget Sound English Department

May 20, 2009

That Thing Called “Library Thing”

Filed under: Activities off Campus,Literature — O. @ 3:29 pm

stack_of_books2If you’re visiting an English Department’s blog, and not by accident, then there’s a good chance you like books and a 50/50 chance you love them. If you also own a lot of them (book-lovers differ on the definition of “a lot”), like to or have long hoped to catalog them, and are interested in who else around the world reads what you read, then Library Thing may be of interest to you.

Library Thing is a venue in cyberspace where you may catalogue your books online. The cataloging is made easier by automatic links to amazon.com, the Library of Congress, and other data-bases.

You may assign the titles different categories, also known as “tags.” You may write brief reviews. And you may join groups of other Library Thing users who read what you read. There are groups based on genres, sub-genres, authors, and even single books, as well as on books in different languages or from different parts of the world.  Many of the groups maintain ongoing conversations, trivia-contests, and so on. One  of the most intriguing functions is  a “tag cloud,” which is a college of the book-tags (categories) you’ve created in which the word representing the tag gets larger depending on the number of books you log under that title. So if a large portion of your library is devoted to science fiction and you’ve used that tag, the font of science fiction will become enormous in the collage  The tag-cloud pales, so to speak, in comparison to the author-cloud, wherein the photos of all the authors of books you own appear.

So if you’re having way too much fun in the sun this summer, or are working too hard, or otherwise need a bookish moment, you might check out Library Thing.  You may catalog up to 200 titles for free. You may catalog more books after joining for 10 dollars a year–or 25 dollars for . . . a lifetime.  Once you’ve started cataloging (and there’s no rush), you may also identify others’  “libraries” that you especially like, visit the “pages” of authors you like, join groups, and so on.  Some libraries are a bit daunting.  It is not uncommon to see a personal library of 10,ooo books, and at least one member has confessed that she owned so many books, the weight of them broke a joist in her floor.  –Merely an occupational hazard of loving books, of course.

But not to worry: many members of Library Thing catalog only a hundred books or fewer, and all libraries are welcome.

The link:  http://www.librarything.com/

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