Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Sneak Peek: TinyCat for Small Libraries

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We’ve done a lot of hinting about unveiling some big news at ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco this week, and now, we’re giving you a sneak peek… at TinyCat.

What is TinyCat? TinyCat turns LibraryThing into a powerful, simple, online catalog for so-called “tiny libraries” (less than 10,000 titles).

These smallest libraries—churches, synagogues, small schools, community centers, academic departments, etc.—have been using LibraryThing to catalog their collections for almost a decade. That continues with TinyCat. TinyCat offers a new way to view the catalog that’s cleaner and focused on helping patrons find and discover books in your library.(1)

TinyCat is:

  • Simple. TinyCat is simple and clean. Faceted searching adds power.
  • Mobile. TinyCat looks and works great on every device and platform.
  • Flexible. TinyCat supports all media types, not just the books that drive LibraryThing.
  • Professional. Import and export MARC records. Track patrons and show item status.
  • Secure. HTTPS always.
  • Enhanced. TinyCat includes the best, most useful enhancements LibraryThing can offer—more than almost any “big-library” catalog has.

Screenshots (click images for large size)

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detail_partial

Method to our madness? It’s no coincidence that we’ve been rolling out lots of new features lately, many of which have been necessary to make TinyCat possible (think Barcode Support, Circulation, Advanced Search and now New Feature: MARC Import). There’s still more to come. We couldn’t be more excited.

TinyCat is coming soon. (We were aiming for ALA, so it’s very close.)

See us at ALA. Stop by booth 3634 at ALA Annual this weekend in San Francisco to talk to Tim and Abby and see TinyCat live. (We’ll show it with your collection, if you have one.)

If you need a free pass to the exhibit hall, details are in this blog post.

Interested? If you’re a librarian of a small library who might be interested in beta testing TinyCat, get in touch! Drop us an email at info@librarything.com.


1. In library terms, TinyCat is the OPAC (“Online Public Access Catalog”), and LibraryThing is the ILS (“Integrated Library System.”)

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, TinyCat

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

New Feature: MARC Import

This is not a bobcat

MARC is the library standard for bibliographic records. We’ve always parsed MARC records behind the scenes, when members searched one of our 700 library sources, or our Overcat collection. A few years ago, we introduced the ability export your LibraryThing collections as MARC records, even if your records didn’t start out in MARC.

Now, we’re adding the last piece: MARC importing, for all the small but professionally-cataloged libraries that use LibraryThing.

Try it Out. Check it out on Import or directly to MARC Import.

How it works. To use MARC import, you’ll need to have your library data in a .marc file format. Depending on how large a file you’ve got, the import process may take a few minutes. The good news is, you’ll receive a notification from LibraryThing once it’s ready. From there, you’ll be able to review your import options—just like you would with any other import—and select the collections, tags, etc. you’d like to apply to the items you’re importing.

What is MARC? MARC stands for Machine-Readable Cataloging. It represents a set of digital formats for describing items held by libraries: books, maps, CDs/DVDs, etc. You name it, if it’s in a library, MARC can handle it. Libraries the world over use MARC to standardize their item records in such a way that information about different types of items can all be fed into (and retrieved from) cataloging systems uniformly.

MARC fields are denoted by numerical tags, that indicate what type of information is contained in that field. For example, the title of a given work is always in field 245.

Don’t Upload The New York Public Library! This is for small—or, better the tiny—libraries that use MARC records and LibraryThing. Uploads are capped at 10,000 records total, so don’t try to upload 100,000 records. “Regular” libraries, big and small, should check out LibraryThing for Libraries, a remarkable suite of catalog enhancements.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new features, small libraries

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

New: Printed Library Barcode Labels

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IMG_5305

Keep track of your books like a pro.

Yesterday we released our new Barcode support feature along with our new Take Inventory feature for Your Books. Good things come in threes, so today we bring you a new product to our Store lineup—printed barcodes!

Why barcodes? Barcodes are for tiny libraries and private individuals who want to keep better track of their books. Slap a barcode on a book and you’ve got a readable, scannable, unique number forever. Once its got a number, you can do inventory and lend books the right way.

For regular users, a small barcode, on the back cover or inside, is an excellent way to know when you’ve cataloged a book and when you haven’t.(1) Users who want to do inventory can add them to all their books, or just to the ones without scannable back-cover ISBNs.

Where do I get them? You can order your own custom barcodes right here in our Store:

Price

  • We’re charging $10.00 for the first 500 labels, and $5.00 for each additional set of 500.
  • That’s 20-25% of what traditional vendors, like Follett, charge.(2)
  • No really, this is a steal!

Other details

  • Quality. Our labels are acid-free, premium stock for archival use. They have a pH-neutral, permanent, pressure-sensitive adhesive.
  • Size. The labels are 1 1/4 x 5/8 inches. That’s small enough to be visually inconspicuous, but it fits numbers up to 100,000 easily. They come in sheets of 100 (102, actually, because math).
  • Symbology. We chose Code 39, perhaps the most common library barcode format. The codes also include the number, written out, in case the barcode won’t scan.
  • Customization. You can add your own text above the code, such as your name or LibraryThing ID (up to 25 characters). You can also add a tiny LibraryThing icon ( ) before your text. Or you can go for barcode-only labels.
  • CueCat Support? The LibraryThing barcodes work great with LibraryThing’s super-cheap CueCat scanners. LibraryThing search and Take Inventory features even read unmodified CueCat codes.

Go ahead and check it out.

You can read more about using barcodes in Your Books here. And of course join our discussion on Talk!

Here are some more photos:

IMG_5317IMG_5315IMG_5312IMG_5310IMG_5309IMG_5308IMG_53052015-06-15 13.15.422015-06-15 13.12.222015-06-15 13.09.372015-06-15 13.04.022015-06-15 12.53.332015-06-15 12.51.302015-06-15 12.44.42

1. Other members use our stamp or mini-stamp.
2. Comparable barcodes cost about that much. In fairness, however, if you spend even more from these companies you can get more durable barcodes, intended for high-circulation public collections.

Labels: barcodes, new feature, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

New Feature: Barcode support

scanner_photo2

Keep track of your books like a pro.

Two big features in one day? Yup. And we’ll have a big product announcement tomorrow!

Short version. We’ve just added barcode support for your books, and a barcode settings page. If your books are already barcoded, or if you want to add barcodes, this is the feature for you.

Long version. In a few short weeks, we’ll be announcing a new feature, specially designed for “tiny” libraries—those small collections found in churches, historical societies, community centers, academic departments, classrooms and so forth.

To prepare for that day, we are releasing another feature that tiny libraries will find useful: comprehensive support for inventory barcodes.

Inventory barcodes go nicely with our other new feature Take Inventory.

Why use barcodes? Besides small collections, barcode inventory may appeal to many regular users. Regular users may not want to barcode every book—scanning the ISBN barcode works great too. But barcode labels make non-ISBN books much easier to inventory.

(Now, “where do I get cheap barcode labels?” I hear you ask. Ask me again tomorrow, will ya?)

Using Barcodes.

fields

Editing Barcodes. Editing barcodes in your catalog is as simple as double-clicking. If you’ve elected for sequential numbers, you can click to get the next one. Or just add the barcode you see. There are no rules, except that every barcode must be unique among your books.

catalog

Setting the Rules. The rules for barcodes got so large that we gave it it’s own page. You can edit your Barcode settings at LibraryThing Settings > Barcodes.

In addition to settings, you can also bulk-add barcodes on this page (under “Actions”). If you don’t already have barcodes, the easiest thing to do is to add barcodes to your whole collection, then apply the labels to your books one-by-one.

settings

This feature was primarily created by me (TimSpalding). Come and Discuss this feature on Talk.

Labels: barcodes, new feature, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

New Feature: Take Inventory

UPDATE: It’s been a big day here at LibraryThing. We’ve now added barcode support for your catalog. Read below or see the blog post for more info on that.

Take Inventory, the best name we could come up with(1), is designed to help members check their physical collections against their LibraryThing catalog. It can be used to see what books have gone missing, or, because a failed search produces a link to add the book, to check that everything in your library has actually been cataloged.

Here’s where to get it:(2)

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Here’s Taking Inventory in action:

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Note that clicking the big, colored circles changes the inventory status(3).

The feature is designed for either manual searching or scanning with a barcode scanner, like our CueCats. You can scan either the ISBN barcode or your own barcode, if you’ve turned on the new barcodes feature for your library. The “flow” is such that you can scan books one after another, without touching the keyboard. Scanning a book marks it as “present.”

If you prefer to type in your searches, it assumes that, if one only one book appears, you want that marked as “present.” (If you don’t, you can click the large inventory circle to change it.) If multiple items show up, you’ll have to mark each one manually. If nothing comes up, you can click to go to Add Books and search for it.

Our original plan was to have this feature on a separate page, but having it within the regular catalog, with the ability to change other fields and sort the data differently gives this method particular power. Note that you can add the Inventory column outside of the “Take Inventory” functionality itself.

This feature was programmed by me (TimSpalding). Chris (ConceptDawg) worked out the color-circles interface.

Come discuss the feature on Talk.


1. The choice of name was exceedingly vexing. I asked both librarians and bookstore people on Twitter, and no consensus emerged. Other options included “shelf read,” “shelf check,” “stock check,” “stock take” and even “section report”!
2. Note that we’ve gotten rid of the special and somewhat odd Tags box. Tags can now be found with all the other pages under the menu it formerly touched. We’re still mulling this over.
3. We like the functionality, but we’re not entirely sure everyone will get this. Your thoughts?

Labels: features, new features, small libraries

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

June Early Reviewers batch is live!

The June 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 97 books this month, and a grand total of 2,935 copies to give out, including a new novel from Salman Rushdie, out this fall. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk!

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Then request away!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, June 29th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and more! Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

MSI Press Kregel Publications Lion Fiction
Beacon Press Medallion Press Taylor Trade Publishing
Prufrock Press William Morrow Humanist Press
Sakura Publishing Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Thurston Howl Publications
Prospect Park Books CarTech Books Velvet Morning Press
Random House Five Rivers Publishing Marina Publishing Group
Gray & Company, Publishers Dream of Things Gefen Publishing House
HighBridge Audio Akashic Books Kaylie Jones Books
Recorded Books Marble City Publishing Bethany House
Small Beer Press Orca Book Publishers Arbiter
Information Today, Inc. In the Garden Publishing Apex Publications
Ballantine Books Chameleon Publishing Inc. Human Kinetics
Bantam Dell Tumblehome Learning Booktrope
BookViewCafe Harper 360 Brandeis University Press
JournalStone Gotham Books Henry Holt and Company
The Plaid Raccoon Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

One LibraryThing, One Book: The Night Watch

This June, we’re finally bringing back One LibraryThing, One Book. June being LGBT Pride Month, we wanted to join in the festivities with our OLOB choice. I give you The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, The Night Watch is set in 1940s London during and after World War II. The story follows the disparate lives of five main characters during this period, and the secrets they have in common, although their experiences are different.

Details

Since it’s been a while, here’s a quick refresher on how One LibraryThing, One Book works.

To participate, be sure to join the One LibraryThing, One Book group. That’s where all discussion will be taking place. Say “hi” on the “Introduce Yourself” thread, or tell us what you think as you read over on the “First Impressions” thread.

We’re going to do things a bit differently this time around. Official discussion for The Night Watch will kick off Monday, June 1st at 12pm Eastern. I know that’s nowhere near enough time for readers to have already finished the book—we’ll be breaking this one up into chunks. On June 1st, we’ll only be discussing the book and the events therein through Chapter 3—the 1947 section. LT Staff will be posting a few starter questions right before 12pm that day, after which point the floodgates open and other members are welcome to post their own questions and discussion topics.

From there, we’ll be reading about 150 pages every two weeks over the next six weeks. You can read ahead, of course, but we ask that members keep discussion topics spoiler-free for events beyond the set reading point. Here’s a full list of how we’ll be breaking it down:

  • June 1: 1947 section, all
  • June 15: 1944 section, chapters 1-3
  • June 29: 1944 section, chapters 4-5
  • July 13: 1941 section, all

More

If you’re disappointed we didn’t give members the option of voting on this OLOB pick, don’t worry. We’ll be bringing back voting for future OLOB reads. We just wanted to get this one off the ground quickly.

You can also find more information about what inspired OLOB in our original introductory blog post, and you can see past selections by hitting the One LibraryThing, One Book tag on the blog.

Labels: One LibraryThing One Book, reading

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

New Feature: Advanced Search

A few months ago we introduced a new search syntax, allowing you to execute complex searches like:

tag: history author: gibbon

We’ve now added a handy, “Advanced Search” feature, more like that offered by many traditional library catalogs.

You can find it in the search options in “Your Books”:

Screenshot 2015-05-14 10.48.42

It opens up a box like this:

Screenshot 2015-05-14 10.48.14

When you search it converts your advanced search options into the text syntax, so it’s also a way of showing how that works.

Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, search, small libraries

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

May Early Reviewers batch is live!

The May 2015 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 88 books this month, and a grand total of 2,340 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk!

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Then request away!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, May 25th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Chronicle Books Beacon Press Harper 360
Prufrock Press Humanist Press Henry Holt and Company
Prospect Park Books Bethany House Iron Twine Press
Bookkus Publishing William Morrow Akashic Books
Gotham Books Post Mortem Press CarTech Books
In the Garden Publishing Human Kinetics Firbolg Publishing
EsKape Press Eerdmans Books for Young Readers BookViewCafe
Crown Publishing HighBridge Audio Recorded Books
Bantam Dell Ballantine Books Chosen Books
Booktrope Orca Book Publishers Booktrope
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Congrats to Our Edible Books 2015 Winners!

Thanks to all who entered our Fourth Annual Edible Books Contest! Your confections look amazing, and my only regret is the sugar craving you’ve left in your wake. You can check out all the submissions for this year’s Edible Books Contest over in the “EdibleBooks2015″ tag gallery. Without further ado, I present our winners for 2015.

Grand Prize

This year’s grand prize goes to LT member W.MdO, whose assortment of sugar cookie book covers from iconic works like To Kill a Mockingbird and Catch-22 wowed us all. Iced by hand entirely with royal icing, most of LT Staff agrees, these look almost too good to eat. We’d be willing, though, to save anyone else from having the destruction of such masterpieces on their conscience.

In addition to the requisite fame and glory, W.MdO will be receiving $50 worth in books, hand-picked by LT Staff! We’ll also be sending some LT swag their way: an LT t-shirt or tote bag, an LT library stamp, a CueCat barcode scanner, an LT sticker, and two lifetime gift memberships, to bestow as they see fit. Amazing work!

2nd Place

Our first runner-up award (and the accompanying prestige and prizes) goes to LT member powerfulpotentiality, for their truly magical (sorry) cake, inspired by Annie Sage’s fantasy novel, Magyk. powerfulpotentiality’s work is the spitting image of the tome itself, in cake form—crafted as a hummingbird cake (banana pineapple spice cake, for the uninitiated) with browned buttercream frosting. I’d love to know how our baker achieved the shimmer gold effect on the accents!

3rd Place

Second runner-up honors (and prizes) go to LT member gofergrl84, for their impressively faithful reconstruction of the eponymous cake, from Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half masterpiece, “The God of Cake”—if you haven’t read this yet, go do it, now. Complete with looming caricature of the author in the background and marshmallow animals, we can only wonder how gofergrl84 managed to contain the need for sugar long enough to photograph their work. Well done!

Thanks, everyone!

Winners, be sure to check your profile comments shortly for details on claiming your prizes.

Competition was fierce this year—while it was a small batch, the sheer quality across the board submissions really knocked our socks off. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout-out to StJohntheBaptist‘s heartfelt and detailed pop-up cake, depicting the grand opening of their church’s lending library. LT member marcottm made a beautiful, hand-painted Rice Krispie treat castle, complete with a boy and his dragon, inspired by When a Dragon Moves In. The apple pie shipwrecked on an island of marshmallows created by milibrarian was clever and sounds delicious! And—particularly as a fellow cat-owner—morningwalker‘s cat box cake (complete with scoop!) amused me to no end. You are all far better bakers than I. Thanks so much for sharing your talents with us!

Labels: contest, contests, fun