Archive for the ‘features’ Category

Friday, January 10th, 2014

New Feature: Spoiler Alert!

To accompany the next few rounds of One LibraryThing, One Book, we’ve rolled out another nifty feature that’s been requested for quite some time now: a spoiler tag. Use it throughout OLOB discussion, and anywhere you deem necessary on LibraryThing.

How does it work?

All you have to do is enclose the spoiler-y text in a “spoiler” tag, like so:

“And the real murderer was actually <spoiler>you</spoiler> all along!”

Your result will look like this:

“And the real murderer was actually you all along!”

If you’re desperate to share what happened at the end of a good book, but don’t want to give too much away, just wrap the sensitive lines in a spoiler tag. You’ll avoid unintentionally ruining someone’s read-through (and if they do actually click on it, well, they’ve had fair warning).

Questions? Comments?

Let us know over on Talk.

Labels: features, new features

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

LibraryThing’s Chocolate Redesign

Before and after, band-aid to chocolate.
An anonymous member sent us a box of dark chocolate-covered cherries. Very appropriate, and very much appreciated!(2)

We’re rolling out lots of changes. See also The New Home Page »

You may have noticed a few changes around the site … last week we pushed live the first major redesign of the LibraryThing site in… ever!(1) The final concept and design were something of a group effort, but the vast majority of the work was done by Christopher Holland (conceptdawg). Note that the new design is separate from the new Home page, blogged about here.

New colors. The top nav bar has turned chocolate brown with red highlights. Goodbye, band-aid/dead salmon color! You’ll see other new accent colors around the site as well.

Smaller, “fixed” top nav. The top nav is 25% smaller than the old version. This means you see more content on each page without scrolling. Like many sites today, the top nav is now “fixed,” remaining at the top when you scroll down the page. This feature is disabled on mobile devices, which handle “scrolling” differently, and, by request, we’ve also made this optional. To turn it off, click this at the bottom of the page.

Profile tab. We’ve removed the “Profile” tab. But you can still get to your profile with one click from anywhere on the site: just click your member name in the upper right corner! You can also get to your profile from the “subnav” on the home page.

New comments indicator. You’ll see a small yellow box appear in the upper right corner of the site when you have a profile comment. It will now even tell you how many new comments you’ve received.

A work in progress.

We’ve begun the process of standardizing the entire site to make all of the hundreds of LT pages look nice with the new color scheme, etc. We’re not quite there yet. There’s lots of work left to do, mostly little things where the old design is still poking through. We’re hacking away at those now.

Members who joined prior to the launch of the redesign can revert to the old design for the moment. This will not be available permanently (it’s simply too much work to try and maintain two different systems), but it’s there for now.

We want your thoughts. What do you think? What do you particularly like, or dislike? Come tell us in the New design – Comments #3 Talk thread.

Found a bug? Come report it in the New design – Bugs #2 thread.

Previous threads of interest (we’re well past 1,700 posts about the design alone…)


1. For a few months LibraryThing’s color was an even more terrible greige.
2. Truth be told, 72?!? That’s over 3,800 calories!

Labels: christopher holland, design, features

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The New Home Page

This blog post is the “coming-out” party of the new home page, introduced last week. After extensive discussion—over 1,000 messages—with many changes and improvements suggested and implemented, “home” is effectively done.

What’s the point? The new page is designed as a simple but rich “home” for how you use LibraryThing. It is a “central place” that puts everything in front of you and keeps you up-to-date. But since members use LibraryThing in so many different ways—cataloging, keeping track of current reads, getting new recommendations, socializing, etc.—it had to be a menu of options, and extensively customizable.

The new home page replaces the old, introduced five year ago, which had grown cluttered, long and slow. It was customizable, but limited and buggy, and many members skipped it.

Pages and Modules. The new home page is divided into pages like “About you” and “Recommendations,” plus a main “Dashboard” area.

The pages sport 47 modules—more than twice as many as before. Modules do things like list your most recent activity, recommend books, update you on what your friends are reading, and track your contributions to the site.

Customize it. The home page was designed to start off useful, but many users will want to customize it.

  • You can reorder the modules on every page.
  • You can put the modules in one column or two, and set where the column break is.
  • You can move modules on and off your dashboard, and other home pages.
  • Every module can be customized, often extensively (see the example below).

Most members will want to focus on their dashboard—adding, deleting and reorganizing the modules until they’ve got the perfect jumping-off page for the rest of their LibraryThing.

What’s new? New modules include:

  • Member Gallery. See pictures in your gallery and add new ones from the home page.
  • Recent Member-uploaded Covers for Your Books. Keeps you up-to-date on the newest covers other members have uploaded for your books.
  • Your Notepad. Create a handy list of shortcuts or notes.
  • Your Library over Time. A cool chart showing how your LT library has grown.
  • Lists. Modules for Your Lists, Active Lists, Recent Lists, Lists You Might Like bring LibraryThing’s Lists feature in the mainstream.
  • Your Recent Reviews. Reminds you what you’ve reviewed recently.
  • Reviews for Your Books. Find out what other members are saying about your books.
  • LibraryThing Roulette. Click for a random book, author, series, etc. Weirdly addictive, and helpful for helpers.
  • Helper modules. A page with statistics and links to venue linking, work combining and the dozens of other ways LibraryThing members help each other.
  • Recent Haiku. See book summaries / by members cleverly put / in five-seven-five.
  • Thingaversaries. Members have been celebrating the anniverary of their joining LibraryThing for years; the home-page module makes that easier.

What’s improved? Along with all the new features Tim also thoroughly redesigned and streamlined many of the existing Home page modules:

  • Tag watch is back! The much-missed Tag watch feature has returned, much simpler and easier to use.
  • Recommendations now includes subsets. You can choose between top automatic recommendations, recent automatic recommendations, and recent member recommendations.
  • Dates. Recently-added books and recent recommendations now include dates, so you can see when you added a new book or when a recommendation was made for you.
  • On This Day now factors in the popularity of the authors, so it gives you the most relevant author birth- and death-days. By default it also prefers to show authors you have. There’s also a new “On this day” Common Knowledge page.
  • We redesigned the Featured Authors section (in the Books section under Discover), to show more LibraryThing authors.

Background: We also recently released a new design—out with the “band aid” or “salmon” and in with the chocolate. Staff, especially Chris (ConceptDawg) is still working on that design, tweaking color choices and making sure it works right on all the browsers and devices out there. See the design blog post for more.

The changes to the Home page are largely based on discussions in the Wide open: What to do with your home page? thread, and Tim (timspalding) had great fun coming up with the new layout and all the brand-new, nifty features that are part of this.

What do you think? Come tell us in the New home – Comments #3 Talk thread.

Find a bug? Report it in the New home – Bugs continued again thread.

Additional threads of interest:

Labels: design, features, home

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Happy Thingaversaries

For a while now members have been celebrating “Thingaversaries,” anniversaries of the day they joined LibraryThing. As LibraryThing is now almost eight years old, a lot of our earliest, most active members have been celebrating 5-, 6- or 7-year Thingaversaries. The tradition is to use the occasion to buy as many books as your year.

Yesterday, norabelle414 (Nora), celebrated her six-year Thingaversary, and posted this to the “75 Books Challenge for 2013″ group:

“Today is my SIXTH Thingaversary! Six whole years and I still can’t believe that I found this wonderful website that has changed my life, and that I get to talk to you lovely, like-minded people almost every day! It is Thingaversary tradition to buy oneself one book per year on LT, plus one to grow on. However, I’m trying to curtail my book buying this year. So instead, I’m going to buy myself one brand-new, sorely needed BOOKSHELF!”

In Nora’s honor, we’ve done two things:

1. We bought a cake in honor of Nora’s Thingaversary. Unfortunately, Nora lives hundreds of miles away, so LibraryThing staff in Maine—Tim, KJ, our 15-year-old intern Eddy and his two younger brothers(1)—are going to have to eat it for her! Sorry Nora, and thanks.

2. We’ve added a new Selected Thingaversaries module in the (new) “Folly” section on the home page. It highlights your connections who are having Thingaversaries and a semi-random set of members having their Thingaversary today—weighted by how active they are the site now.

So, congratulations Nora, and thanks to her and all the other members who joined years ago, and still love LibraryThing!

Feature-discussion here.


1. LibraryThing is turning into a summer camp. Alas, Jeremy is in Virginia this month for Rare Book School.

UPDATE: I added a notice of your next Thingaversary.

Labels: features, holiday, humor

Friday, April 26th, 2013

A raft of LibraryThing improvements

Our developers have made a whole slew of improvements recently. If you’re not following New Features, you may have missed them. Here’s a roundup.

The person who normally draws our yellow arrows died.

Share buttons on Add Books

We’ve added “share” buttons to the add books page, so you can share your new books on Facebook and Twitter easily. Come discuss.

Date formats and date-read changes

Change your default date format. You can now edit the way you’d like dates to appear in your catalog for the date-read, date-acquired, and entry date fields. 2013-04-26, or “YYYY-MM-DD,” is still the default, but you can change it to M/D/YYYY, or “January 1, 2012,” or several other display options. Change this setting on any book’s edit page, from Edit your profile > Account settings, or in the lightbox which appears when you edit the reading-date fields in your catalog.

“Imprecise” or “fuzzy” dates. Rather than having to enter a full year-month-day (2012-12-23) date, you can now just enter a year and a month (2012-12) or a year (2012).

Non dates and bad dates. You can even enter non-dates (“Banuary 2012″ or “Sometime in college”) and the text will save and stick. It will, however, be displayed as red text. Dates from before 1970 now save correctly too.

New lightbox for editing dates. Editing reading dates from within the catalog now works slightly differently: if you double-click one of the reading date columns you’ll now see a lightbox appear, and you’ll be able to edit any reading dates for that particular book.

“Reading dates” catalog field added. We’ve added a new “Reading dates” field to Your books: this uses two columns and includes both the “Date Started” and “Date Finished” reading date fields. It sorts by the latest date in either “Date Started” or “Date Finished,” which is usually what you want. Add this to one of your display styles at http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/styles.

Back-end changes. These improvements required various important back-end changes, basically completely revising how and where the date-read data is stored. These were important not only for the improvements mentioned here, but also as we move into more changes to the “currently reading” structure (coming soon). This is step one of a multi-step process.

Questions, comments, bugs to report? Come discuss on Talk.

View, sort by work’s average rating

By popular request, we’ve adding a way for you to view or sort by a work’s average rating in your catalog. The column is called “Work: Average Rating.” Add it to one of your display styles at http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/styles. The column shows the work’s rating graphically (with stars, making it easy to compare your ratings with the average) as well as numerically, to allow more precision. The total number of ratings is also displayed.

For more on this, see the Talk thread. Over 250 members voted on how to style it, and we ended up coming up with a compromise.

Import/sync improvements galore.

With the recent influx of imports from Goodreads members and others, we took the opportunity to spend some time with our import code, and it is now much improved. There are still some major improvements to be made, but it’s running much more smoothly than before. Key changes:

Importing is much faster. You should see a marked increase in speed when it comes to processing imported files: we’ve dedicated some more processing power to handling imports, and made some speed improvements in the queue-processing code as well.

Syncing. You can now sync between Goodreads and LibraryThing accounts, allowing you to periodically update your LibraryThing library from your Goodreads account. Synced fields include reviews, ratings, date read and shelves/tags.

Bug fixes. We fixed a number of bugs in the import code. Here’s a sampling:

  • There were a number of issues with imports from Shelfari, Anobii, and Calibre that were causing all sorts of strange things to happen. Imports from those sites should now be much more successful (author names should come in completely, for example, rather than partially as they were in many cases).
  • A bug which caused collection assignments to go awry was eliminated.
  • Books which only include an ISBN-13 are now imported using the ISBN, rather than as ISBN-less books.
  • We’re now blocking any records without any data in the title field, as well as any blank rows in the imported file, from adding as blank LibraryThing book records.

Better tracking. During this process we added a number of new and very useful tracking measures on the back end so that we can monitor imports in a more coherent way and help to troubleshoot bugs much more easily.

Need to import? Head over to http://www.librarything.com/more/import and add or sync your books.

“Left-nav” standardization

As a first step in the direction of a site redesign, we’re working on standardizing various elements of the site, so they all look the same across LibraryThing. We’ve begun this process with the “left nav”—what we call LibraryThing’s secondary, left-aligned navigation menus on Talk, Groups, Recommendations and lots of other pages. Basically the code for these was the same, but a whole bunch of differences cropped up depending on which page you visited.

We’ve now standardized these based on the version previously used in Talk, with the addition of a blue “call out” bar by the item you’ve selected.

Labels: design, features, import, new feature, new features

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

New: Search your groups and connections

We’ve added a new cross-library search feature. You can now search:

This opens up all sorts of possibilities: you and your family members or friends can create a group together and easily search across the all the books in your libraries, or start a neighborhood group*. You can look for interesting books within a given group. For example, Tim enjoys searching for “Alexander the Great” in the Alexander the Great group.

Be creative, and if you do something really nifty with this feature, make sure and tell us about it!

Come discuss it on Talk. Many thanks to members of the Board for Extreme Thing Advances for help developing this feature.


* I’m already seeing Tim combining this new feature with the “what should you borrow?” recommendations so that he can plunder my bookshelves!

Labels: connection news, features, groups, new feature, new features, search

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Import your LivingSocial/Visual Bookshelf books and save your reviews

LivingSocial announced last week that they’ll be shuttering their Books section, formerly called “Visual Bookshelf,” as of August 10.

Living Social recommends migrating to another site, but if you do it you’ll lose all your reviews. Living Social splits your data up into multiple files and only the main one can be imported, the “collections” file. We’ve cooked up a better option that preserves your reviews as well.

As a bonus, anyone importing 25 books or more will get a lifetime account on LibraryThing!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to http://www.librarything.com and click the “Join Now” button to create a LibraryThing account.
  2. Sign into your Living Social books account; you’ll see the large black box in the center of the page with three export buttons (Collections, Ratings*, Reviews).
  3. Click the “Export Collections” button and save the file to your desktop; then click the “Export Reviews” button and save that one too (they’ll be called “collection_books_….csv” and “review_books_…..csv”).
  4. On LibraryThing, go to the Import Books page (via the “More” tab at the top of any page on LibraryThing).
  5. Click the “Choose File” button and choose the “collection_books” file from your desktop, then click “Upload.”
  6. On the Import Options page, select the options you want and then click the “Import books” link at the bottom of the page.

To add your reviews:

  1. To add your reviews: once your titles have finished importing, return to the Import Books page and click “Choose File”; select the “review_books” file and click “Upload.”
  2. Under “Handle duplicates” at the bottom of the Import Options page, select the radio button for “Sync ISBN duplicates, importing user data,” and tick the “Replace Reviews with imported info.” Then click the “Import books” button and your reviews should import right into your LibraryThing catalog.

Come talk about it on Talk. And if you have any problems email tim@librarything.com.


*Ratings: The Living Social ratings export option doesn’t seem to be working at the moment. If it starts working in the future, we can work through adding it too.

Labels: features, import

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Physical description fields added

We’re currently rolling out to all members some brand-new fields for physical description:

  • pagination (both Roman- and Arabic-numeral)
  • height, length, and thickness*
  • weight
  • volumes

In addition to the six separate fields, available for display and sorting your books, there are also two summary fields. “Dimensions” summarizes height, length and thickness in a “8 x 10 x 1.5″ format, and “physical summary” replicates the standard library-data format, displaying volume count, pagination, and the height of the book. The latter is also user editable.

The data comes comes either from the library or bookseller record you used to add your book, or, when data is missing, from the ISBN level. As elsewhere, data from your book is shown in black text, and data from another level is shown in green. The green text will turn black if you edit it or tab through the fields to confirm it.

You can edit all these new fields on either the book edit page or by adding them to “List” view on the “Your books” tab. To do that, click the little “gear” symbol on the top bar.**

Once added, double-clicking on any of these fields will bring up an “Edit Physical Properties” lightbox and allow you to make changes. There’s also an option there to convert the data for that record between pounds/inches and centimeters/kilograms, if you’re so inclined.

Naturally all these neat goodies lend themselves very well to cool statistics and charts, so we’ve also added a statistics/memes page. You can find yours here. If you’re not signed in, check out Tim’s here.

Find our how your books stack up (literally) against a hobbit, a giraffe, Michelangelo’s David, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramid of Giza and so forth. Discover how many U-Haul book boxes it would take to pack your collection, or the value of your books’ weight in gold. If all the pages in all your books were laid out end-to-end, how far would they stretch? All that and more on the new stats page.

We’ve also included a handy chart showing how many of your books don’t contain data in these fields, in case you want to run off to grab the ruler and scale.

If these fields aren’t yet showing for you, they will be soon; you’ll receive a profile comment when the fields are available. Many thanks to the members of the Board for Extreme Thing Advances for their assistance with getting this feature ready!

Come discuss the new fields and the stats page in Talk.


* height = head to foot of spine; length = spine to fore-edge; thickness = “width” of the book on the shelf

** There’s also an option here to “Show volumes, pagination, dimensions and weight fields.” If you choose to hide them, they simply won’t display anywhere.

Labels: features, new features, statistics

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Melvil Decimal System View in Your books

We’ve just added some handy new browsing functions to our Melvil Decimal System (MDS).

What is MDS? MDS is the Dewey Decimal System, Melvil Dewey’s innovative classification system, as it has been applied to books in LibraryThing members’ books. The base system is the Free Decimal System, a public domain classification created by John Mark Ockerbloom. The wording comes from out-of-copyright sources.

Here are some examples:

What’s new? You can now easily examine the MDS classifications of the books in your library, using the Melvil Decimal System view (accessible via the “Your books” tab; click the little divot to the right of Tags to show the available views).

When you click on one of the ten top-tier MDS classifications, you’ll see the books in your library which have been assigned to that level, and the second tier of MDS classifications will also display. You can continue drilling down through all five tiers of MDS classification.

See Tim’s books by MDS view at http://www.librarything.com/membermds/timspalding, or yours at
http://www.librarything.com/membermds/MEMBERNAME.

We’ll probably be adding some bells and whistles to this feature as we go forward. We’re planning to add a similar Library of Congress view of your library soon, so watch for that as well!

Come discuss in Talk.


Dewey, Dewey Decimal, Dewey Decimal Classification, DDC and OCLC are registered trademarks of OCLC. Read more about OCLC and the DDC on their website. LibraryThing is not affiliated with OCLC, but we have the same hatter.

Labels: features, member projects, new features

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Top ten suggestions


Member lilypadma suggested we hire more people. But finding new good people is hard, so we opted for cloning.**

Just over a week ago* we asked members to come up with their recommendations on “Ten Ways to Make LibraryThing Better.” We promised to pick twenty-five winners, including ten winning answers and fifteen random picks.

Members heard the call, writing 259 answers for a total of 45,000 words–slightly longer than Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. Last week Sonya, Abby, Casey and I got together to work on LibraryThing for Libraries. We took a break on Wednesday to (drink and) read through the answers. We couldn’t pick just ten winners, so I’ve expanded it to 17–32 winners total. We could have easily done 50 more.

The Prizes. Winners get to chose between (1) A CueCat barcode scanner; (2) A LibraryThing t-shirt; (3) First dibs on a LibraryThing Early Reviewers book.

Winners should let Abby (abby@librarything.com) know what you want. If you want the Early Reviewer book, you’re also going to need to change your Early Reviewers picks to select just one book. We’re going to give you an “ER mojo” of a million, so whatever you pick, you’ll get.

The Winners. Random Winners: rfb, maryanntherese, jocainster, Imprinted, circeus, jabogaer, rastaphrog, claudiuo, jjmcgaffey, arnzen, trojanpotato, surly, phoenixfire, sigridsmith

sophies_choice (7): “Let us mark which books are our favourite.” I’m divided whether to make this work like author and venue favorites, or to make it a “collection.”

PhoenixTerran (31): “Update debris and author pages immediately after combining/separating has occurred” A big leap is going to happen here very soon, with the introduction of a more stable “editions” layer. I’m actually doing edition-level calculations in the background today, with an eye to inaugurating the system on a limited basis tonight.

Philtill (160): We all loved Philtill’s ten suggestions, which amount to “Make LibraryThing more like Tickle.” There are dangers to personality tests and statistical correlatons, of course. But we love to play with data, and “tell me about myself” is one of the main reasons people use LibraryThing anyway. So, expect us to take these ideas seriously.

jocainster (28): “Add a link to the book’s main page in the ‘Recently Added’ section.” Abby had to be restrained after reading this one.

parelle (44): Parelle wrote two related suggestions–LT bookmarks and a parnership with Moo Cards. dreamlikecheese focused in on sending cards to libraries and bookshops. This is one area we’re definitely going to look into.

sabreuse (152). “I was at a conference last week where I picked up several new books, but didn’t have internet access all day. And I realized that I want to be able to add books by SMS, the same way I can send photos directly to flickr or add events to my google calendar by text message, both of which I do all the time. I’d love to be able to add new ISBNs to my library while I’m out shopping, or traveling, or tied up away from a computer.”

nperrin (17): “Some ingenious way to link books to books about them. If I’m looking at a novel, I want to know how to find the best criticism of that novel or author.”

usquam (109): “Work with publishers to get better integration of their catalogues into LibraryThing. They should have covers, contents, editions, etc – as per the new ‘series’ area, it would be interesting to see what we have from a particular publisher, and then have them show other editions or titles we might like or are missing.”

susiebright (155): “I loved Secret Santa; it was the hightlight of my Xmas gift giving because it was so entirely unexpected. I think you should offer a ‘Birthday Surprise’ gift program of the same kind. You pick a ‘birthday kid’s name’ out of the hat, and send them a book based on what you glean from their library!’” We’re thinking that BirthdayThing could be hard to arrange, but doing a mid-year (June 25?) Secret Santa sounds fun. This time, members are doing the ordering!

yhoitink (9): “Add the European Library as a source.” Casey is squarely behind this one.

amysisson (87): “a virtual ‘badge’ or ‘ribbon’ (like LT author) for on the profile pages of people who’ve contributed over a certain level(s) of info, such as CK or combining” I’d love to do something like this. I’m attracted to the Barnstar model.

papyri (95): “Provenance, ex-libris (previous owner(s)) info listing (can be done like multiple authors). Possibly including dates and locations. Privacy option for this would be nice.” Sophies_Choice also suggested this be integrated with LT Local. Good stuff.

ssd7 (111) “Cross Source Searching. So, I would like to get my data from the LoC. But I would also like to just punch in an ISBN. These two desires are not always compatible since searching on ISBN’s often yields nothing from the LoC. When a search returns no results why not use the LT database or Amazon to find the title and then research for the user? Or at the very least let me set up a ‘priority’ listing of the sources so that if LoC yields nothing, it will automagically search Amazon.” ssd7 (111) also suggested “Open source the code.” This continues to interest us. No promises.

hegelian (16): “OpenID might be a smarter way to login for some people.”

_Zoe_ (24): “The ability to reset the unread marker at the message you’ve actually read up to.”

zcannon (25): “A widget that works on WordPress.”

TerrierGirl (34): “Could each book’s original copyright year be added to the my library, add to library screens? This would help interested potential readers place each book in time. Also, it would tell a reader when a particular book fell within that writer’s career.” I’ve wanted to do this for some time.

Notes on Method. We decided to leave off a small number of common topics, including collections, author disambiguation, HelpThing, tagging of groups, web links on book pages, more than seven columns, and a Facebook application. They are very much on our radar already. Seeing them over and over again had its effect, you can be sure.

We also left off suggestions for features completed since we asked the question, like better tags, and to avoid new features in favor of bug-fixing. It’s a delicate thing, and not one we’ve always gotten right, I’ll admit. I’ve been on a bug-fixing and performance kick recently.


*That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!
**The person you don’t know is Mike, a local Portland programmer working with us part-time for a few months. Note, I was supposed to be also sitting in the chair—reading Everything is Miscellaneous—but there was a tragic head/butt airspace issue.

Labels: employees, features, fun