Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Flash-mob: Help catalog Eisenhower’s Library!

Thanks to LibraryThing member kcgordon, we have a list of the books at the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg, PA, so we thought it would be fun to do a quick flash-mob of these (there aren’t a huge number of books, so this probably won’t take too long).

We’ve kicked things off already (see Eisenhower’s profile page) but there are quite a few books still to be added, and we’d love to have your help!

See the Talk thread or jump right to the project wiki page to get started and claim your section of the library list. No worries if you haven’t worked on a Legacy Libraries project before – this is definitely a good introduction to them! I’ll be helping out too, and will answer any questions you have on the Talk thread.

NB: Another LTer is working on obtaining a list of additional Eisenhower books from his home in Kansas, so with any luck at all we’ll be able to add those soon as well. We’ll keep you posted!

Labels: flash-mob cataloging, fun, legacy libraries

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Books for Ghana: LibraryThing teams up with Books Matter!

Between November and April, LibraryThing members raised nearly $2,600 for needy readers by adding events to LibraryThing Local!

When we announced this initiative we asked for your help in coming up with the best way to use this money to put books directly into the hands of readers who would benefit the most from them. We wanted to find a project where our contributions can really make an immediate, tangible difference, and one with which LibraryThing and its members can build an active and ongoing relationship.

We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve found just such a project!

Books to Ghana

In February we donated donated $600 of the funds raised to Keith Goddard’s Books4Ghana campaign on IndieGogo, enough to put that effort over the top. Keith, who’s been a public school teacher in Toronto for the past fifteen years and has family connections in Ghana, began collecting books last summer for the Bright Future School in Keta, Ghana, a K-9 school with 600 students and thirty faculty members.

The first batch of 200 math textbooks and 500 children’s books were sent in August 2012, and arrived in October. Another 3,100 books Keith collected from schools around Toronto (and stored in his house!) were shipped this February after the successful IndieGoGo campaign, and arrived just a couple weeks ago. They will be delivered to the school later this month. You can browse the catalog of these books at http://www.librarything.com/profile/booksmatter. As the project expands and books arrive at additional libraries, we’ll be separating these out into separate LT catalogs for each library, so that they can be optimized to fit the specific needs of each school (and so that they can be updated as needed, of course).

Keith has now launched a new website for the Books Matter project at http://www.booksmatter.org, and is in the process of registering as an official charity. He’s currently rounding up the next batch of books to ship over to Ghana, and identifying the schools there that will benefit most from books we send.

Phase One: How to help now

Right now the major need is funding for shipping already-donated books to Ghana: payment for a shipping container, sea transport to Accra, Ghana, and then transportation from Accra to the schools in the Volta region). It costs approximately $1 per book to pay for shipping (as Keith says, “$10 sends 10 books, $50 sends 50 books: the math is simple, but the effect is profound”).

We’re going to be giving more of the money members raised by adding events to LT Local for this, and we invite you, should you feel so inclined, to head over to Books Matter and donate directly to the cause as well. If you donate, make sure to mention you’re a LibraryThing member!

Phase Two: Collection Development

This is about more than money. Books Matter is cataloging everything they send to Ghana.

Having everything cataloged allows us to do more than send random books. We can get involved in collection development—sending the right books to the right schools to fill gaps or to focus on areas of interest. We can do this site-wide or in groups. So, for example, wouldn’t it be cool if the “Green Dragon” and “Science!” groups could collaborate to make sure they’ve got a good collection in their area? And teachers and children at the schools can also participate, telling us what they need and how we can help!

That’s our idea. We’ll support it with some money and with features. But members will have to drive it. Let’s see what we can all do for readers in another country.

Come talk about phase two here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/153515

Why we’re doing this.

We’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time. We feel it’s important to give back when we can, and we want to give our members an easy way to contribute to a worthy project that puts books in the hands of readers who need them. By working with Keith and Books Matter, we’re in on the ground floor of a new, exciting project with lots of growth potential, and will be able to work with him to make sure that our contributions get where they need to go.

We’re really delighted about this, and we hope you all will be too!

Labels: events, fun, gifts, librarything local

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Edible Book Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered our second annual virtual Edible Books Contest! Once again your biblio-culinary talents impressed and amazed! Check out all of the entries in the gallery.

Without further ado, your winners …

The grand prize goes to new member GSCK for this sinister tableau of books by David Wong: This Book is Full of Spiders and John Dies at the End. The books are made of vanilla and chocolate cake, with fondant and white chocolate spider webs. Another view here.

Along with the honor and fame, GSCK wins a $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books, an LT t-shirt, stamp, and sticker, plus a CueCat and three lifetime gift memberships to LibraryThing!

We picked two runners-up: both will win their choice of an LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat, plus two lifetime gift memberships. First we have mellu for an anagrammatic and delicious-sounding take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, made from “layered sponge cake filled with raspberry mousse + bilberry jam, decorated with red marzipan and white sugar paste.”

Our second runner-up this year is v4758, for a birthday cake of “desert island books,” made from “innumerable batches of Victoria sponge and enough fondant icing to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.” v7458 even provided a cross-section. The books are Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, as well as Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

We also chose a couple of Honorable Mention winners; each will receive a lifetime gift membership. These are jorkar for an axolotl cake to celebrate the release of Susan Hood’s Spike, the Mixed-up Monster and debwalsh51 for her take on Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

And just because it made me laugh, I have to mention “Maybe Tomorrow” by GSCK: It’s captioned “Homage to The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing made out of frosting. I haven’t gotten around to making the cake yet.”

I’ll be contacting the winners to claim their prizes.

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks again to all the entrants!

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Edible Books Contest deadline extended!

It’s been just a little bit busy around here these past few days, so we’re going to extend the deadline for entering this year’s Edible Books Contest.

The new deadline for entry is 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 18. The original post is below, with all the contest info, how to enter, all the prizes, and more. Check out all the entries submitted so far at the EdibleBooks2013 gallery.


We had so much fun with last year’s virtual Edible Books Contest, we’ve decided to make it an annual event!

How to participate:

1. Create an “edible book.” We’re defining this broadly, so entries can include dishes:

  • referencing a book’s title or characters (puns are entirely welcome)
  • inspired by a book’s plot
  • in the shape of an actual book (or eBook, or scroll, etc.)
  • takeoffs on the LibraryThing logo

2. Take some photos of what you made. The photo at right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest. See more of the winners here or all of the entries in the gallery.

3. Upload the photo to your LT member gallery. Sign in, then go here and click the “Add another picture” link to add the image.

4. When adding the image, tag it “EdibleBooks2013″. This will add your image to the contest gallery, and counts as your entry into the contest. If your photo doesn’t have the tag, we won’t know that you’ve entered. You’ll be able to see all the entries here.

5. Tell us about it in the “Title/description” box.

Deadline: Add your photos by 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 18.

What we’ll do:

Based on all the images in the “EdibleBooks2013″ photo gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • A $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books
  • An LT t-shirt (size/color of your choice)
  • An LT library stamp
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Three lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • Two lifetime gift memberships

We may also pick a few Honorable Mentions—final number will depend on the number of entries received—and they’ll receive a lifetime gift membership.

Have fun!

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. Your dish must be made of edible ingredients (no hats, lost-wax sculptures, performance art), and by entering the contest you certify that it is your own creation. Entries submitted to previous LibraryThing Edible Books contests will not be considered. All decisions as to winners will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less runners-up. Any images you load stay yours, or you can release them under a copyleft license, but we get a standard “non-exclusive, perpetual” right to use them.

Questions? Feel free to post questions/discussion/etc. here.

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Free accounts through Sunday

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

Here’s what the profile comment looks like. You should get it pretty quickly:


Photo by flickr member chamisa flower.

Labels: amazon, fun, gifts

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The 2nd annual LibraryThing Edible Books contest!

We had so much fun with last year’s virtual Edible Books Contest, we’ve decided to make it an annual event!

How to participate:

1. Create an “edible book.” We’re defining this broadly, so entries can include dishes:

  • referencing a book’s title or characters (puns are entirely welcome)
  • inspired by a book’s plot
  • in the shape of an actual book (or eBook, or scroll, etc.)
  • takeoffs on the LibraryThing logo

2. Take some photos of what you made. The photo at right is the grand-prize winner from last year’s contest. See more of the winners here or all of the entries in the gallery.

3. Upload the photo to your LT member gallery. Sign in, then go here and click the “Add another picture” link to add the image.

4. When adding the image, tag it “EdibleBooks2013″. This will add your image to the contest gallery, and counts as your entry into the contest. If your photo doesn’t have the tag, we won’t know that you’ve entered. You’ll be able to see all the entries here.

5. Tell us about it in the “Title/description” box.

Deadline: Add your photos by 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 4.

What we’ll do:

Based on all the images in the “EdibleBooks2013″ photo gallery, LibraryThing staff will choose the following winners:

Grand Prize (1)

  • A $50 gift certificate to Longfellow Books
  • An LT t-shirt (size/color of your choice)
  • An LT library stamp
  • A CueCat
  • An LT sticker
  • Three lifetime gift memberships
  • Great honor

Runners Up (2)

  • Your choice of one LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat
  • Two lifetime gift memberships

We may also pick a few Honorable Mentions—final number will depend on the number of entries received—and they’ll receive a lifetime gift membership.

Have fun!

Fine Print: You can enter as many times as you like, but you can only win one prize. Your dish must be made of edible ingredients (no hats, lost-wax sculptures, performance art), and by entering the contest you certify that it is your own creation. Entries submitted to previous LibraryThing Edible Books contests will not be considered. All decisions as to winners will be made by LibraryThing staff, and our decisions are final. LibraryThing staff and family can enter, but can only be honored as prize-less runners-up. Any images you load stay yours, or you can release them under a copyleft license, but we get a standard “non-exclusive, perpetual” right to use them.

Questions? Feel free to post questions/discussion/etc. here.

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Add events to LibraryThing Local, Give books to needy readers!

Short version:


Long version:

For every bookstore and library event added to LibraryThing Local from now until January 1 April 4, 2013, LibraryThing will donate up to 15 cents to put books in the hands of the needy.

Adding events is easier than ever. To add events go to LibraryThing Local and choose “Add event” there or under a specific venue (bookstore or library).

In addition to manually entering events, programmers can also use our new Add Events API (also see blog post) to add events by the hundreds. Go ahead, cost us millions.

Price list.

$0.15   Manually-added event with author and work touchstones
$0.05   Manually-added event with no touchstones
$0.04   Automatically-added event with working author and work touchstones
$0.02   Automatically-added event without touchstones

We’re only going to count events added to real-world bookstores and libraries, and the events must be future events, not past ones. Events can be in any country.

What happens after January 1 April 4? We don’t know. If it’s a success, we’ll probably keep doing this.

Where Will The Money Go? We need to find a good place for the money to go, and ask for help finding one—or creating our own project from the ground up. Some projects that inspired us include:

  1. Buy India a Library, which, builds and staffs a library in a poor part of India (see my friend Andromeda Yelton’s YouTube video about it, another friend, Justin Hoenke is also involved).
  2. One Library at a Time, responsible for creating two libraries in Panama and starting another in Ghana.
  3. Libraries Without Borders

There must be many more. I’m also interested in South Sudan, where LibraryThing member johnthefireman works.

Come discuss where we should spend the money on Talk here.

Why we’re doing this. LibraryThing Local has been a success, but mostly as a way for members to mark and broadcast their favorite bookstores and libraries.

LibraryThing Local Events originally included some automatically-added events, especially a full event feed from Booksense/IndieBound, but IndieBound eventually decided to stop providing event feeds to sites like LibraryThing after booksellers complained that their events were being, yes, listed on the web. (Really.) Meanwhile, automatic feeds from some other sources foundered on the lack of a good way for members to filter out low-interest events, such as daily storytimes.

All-in-all, events have suffered. The fewer events showed up, the less attractive the events system seemed. LibraryThing members continue to curate and improve the system constantly (with over 4.6 million edits to Common Knowledge, 3.4 million work combinations and separations, etc.), but events have lagged behind.

Meanwhile, LibraryThing has become a profitable company (clap, clap, clap). We’re not wildly profitable, and are spending most of our money on hiring new people, but I feel it’s important to give something back the moment we can do so. Staff and members have long wanted to help build a library in a poor country, or for a disadvantaged population. As someone said, “what you can do, you should do.” We can do this.

But if we’re going to do it, why not get members involved–improving the site for all and “buying into” the charitable project?

The Fine Print. Events added to LibraryThing Local, whether manually or using the Add Events API must be connected to a unique LibraryThing account and conform to the the LibraryThing Terms of Service. The addition of spurious, spam or any other non-events is not permitted, will not count and may result in the suspension of your LibraryThing account. If event quality suffers, we may have to adjust what qualifies. What events qualify is up to our sole and final discretion.

LibraryThing shall determine how the money will be spent, when and where. We are setting an initial, optional limit of $1,000 per member and $5,000 overall, just in case someone figures out how to add 500,000 events we didn’t know existed.

We reserve the right to modify the fine print at any time, and to cancel the program as well.

We are giving ourselves legal leeway here. We want no basis for getting sued. But if we scrooge this up, you are encouraged to excoriate us for it everywhere you can.

Come discuss the feature in general here.


Image of coins courtesy Flickr user freefotouk (Ian Britton).

Labels: events, fun, gifts, librarything local

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

LibraryThing is Seven: Summon the AllThing!

LibraryThing’s employees (from left): Chris Catalfo, Abby, Jeremy, Kate, Brian, Tim, Mike, Chris Holland

LibraryThing turned seven today.(1) Seven years! It’s been a blink of time in my life, but it’s a long time, and positively an eternity online. Where so many of our 2005 web 2.0 cohort died, sold out or burned out, LibraryThing somehow survived. We’re stable, profitable and growing, with over 1.5 million members using LibraryThing.com and the other language sites, and over 400 library systems around the world using our library services.

Chris and Abby win.

Jeremy and Tim lose.

Chief praise goes to our members, the best book people I’ve met online. When LibraryThing went up I wasn’t sure that more than a few hundred people would ever want it. I’m happy I was wrong! After the members, LibraryThing was created by its employees. We’ve had many fine employees before, but I feel (and Abby and Chris H. agree) that we’ve got the best team we’ve ever had right now—a harmonious and balanced mix of talented people. Our most recent project, BookPsychic, solidified my feeling that we had it right. We know we’ve got a lot to do. I look forward to working with them. (You can see the team above.)

To talk about the future, the LibraryThing staff (minus one) came to Portland last week for what we’ve been calling AllThing12—a week of strategic discussions, user-interface arguing, employee scheduling, and lots of eating and drinking.(2) Families and friends came at the end, so we branched off into barbecue and sandcastles.

Some of our pictures can be seen here, at the AllThing12 gallery.

A few main points emerged, especially about LibraryThing.com development:

  • LibraryThing will live and prosper. It’s been rough at times, but we’re bullish on the future.
  • Taking the time for BookPsychic and another near-complete feature for libraries was worth it. They are models for future development, and potentially explosive products.
  • LibraryThing.com needs significant work, especially in fixing bugs and making good features better. Our design needs small but significant updates.
  • Our plans for mobile did not work out—the path we were going down is dead. Finding a new path must be a priority.
  • We crafted a new schedule whereby LibraryThing.com development is ramped up, with Tim recommitting his time and at least one of the other three programmers working with him at all times. Tim’s happy about this (so is Jeremy).
  • We have the development schedule through February plotted out. The two stand-out projects for LibraryThing.com will be in revising how members search for and add books, and getting it together on mobile.

All told, it was a great meeting. We made some strategic decisions, hammered out parts of the interfaces and planned for the future. And we reconnected socially—a vital task for a company that’s almost entirely virtual. We drank and made off-color jokes. We heedlessly mixed business and family. And when our director of HR fell off her chair, we laughed our heads off and took pictures—and we still have our jobs!


1. Or maybe yesterday. It’s not entirely clear.
2. Our sysadmin, Brian, in Kansas, had classes and wasn’t able to join us—so we video Skyped him in. Next time!

Labels: allthing, birthday, fun

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Edible Book Contest winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered our first virtual Edible Books Contest! We were delighted at the number and range of entries, and I think we’ll plan to do it again next year! Check out all of the entries in the gallery.

Without further ado, your winners …

The grand prize goes to TheCriticalTimes for this edible version of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, made of sponge cake and edible paper, complete with fondant Kraken.

Along with the honor and fame, TheCriticalTimes wins an LT t-shirt, stamp, and sticker, plus a CueCat and three lifetime gift memberships to LibraryThing!

We picked two runners-up: both will win their choice of an LT t-shirt, stamp, or CueCat, plus two lifetime gift memberships. The runners-up are Unexpected, for “The Luggage,” from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (chocolate cake with marzipan and “lots of little pink icing feet”) and mellu for this take on Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman, made of marzipan (with a real carrot nose!).

We also chose a couple of Honorable Mention winners; each will receive a lifetime gift membership. These are infomagnet for War and Pizza, and exlibrislady for the delicious-sounding (and looking!) Gregor and the Apple (“a crunchy peanut butter mousse covered in a hard chocolate shell on caramel feet. The plate is garnished with raspberry coulis and a single apple crisp. It must be eaten in a grey, bleak building while the rain falls dispassionately outside”).

I’ll be contacting the winners to claim their prizes.

Congratulations to our winners, thanks again to all the entrants, and watch for an announcement next spring for our second Edible Books contest!

Labels: contest, contests, fun

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Reminder: Edible Books Contest!

Quick reminder: we’ll be accepting new entries for our Edible Books Contest until 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 10.

See the contest announcement for all the details on entries, rules, prize information, etc. Or check out the entries submitted so far in the photo gallery.

Labels: contest, contests, fun