Archive for the ‘jefferson’ Category

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Goodbye Jeremy

Jeremy wins one.

Tim and Jeremy lose one.

Yesterday LibraryThing turned eight, and today we say goodbye to Jeremy Dibbell (jbd1), LibraryThing’s social-media guy and all-around LibraryThing soul.

After nearly three years at LibraryThing, Jeremy is moving on. Next week he begins work as Director of Communications and Outreach at Rare Book School, located at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. We’ve loaned him to Rare Book School each summer he’s worked for us. He’s looking forward to joining the team there full time.

Jeremy is a long-time and much-loved member of the team. He was an early adopter, and became LibraryThing’s official-unofficial head of the Legacy Library project long before he came to work for us formally. Most members probably know him from the newsletter, our Facebook and Twitter feeds, from member-help emails, and for his Talk posts, helping new members and laying out his vision for LibraryThing’s development.

We aren’t going to lose him completely. Jeremy will continue on for a few weeks helping us where he can and giving his successor(1) some tips. And he will continue as head of the Legacy Library project. Indeed, as he says, he’ll have more time for it now. I suspect he’ll make his views about the site known too. I doubt he could help it.

It’s not easy to summarize everything Jeremy has done for us. Some highlights include:

  • Sending 10,600 emails, not counting those that came from info@librarything.com. He saved us from drowning, and far exceeded what a run-of-the-mill “social media” manager could have done.
  • Growing the size of the Early Reviewers program from around 1,200 books/month to today’s 3,500 or 4,000/month.
  • Helping to design, troubleshooting and discussing every major new feature in the last three years.
  • Continued growth of the Legacy Libraries program (see an overview here), including the new landing page, most of the Libraries of Early America (1,500+), and a number of wonderful LL flashmobs.
  • Special events, like our edible books contests, and book spine poetry.
  • Playing Santa for SantaThings 2010 (the Book Depocalypse), 2011 and 2012.

Jeremy moved to Portland to take this job, living only a block away from my house and the office. (My wife and my son were particularly grieved to hear he was leaving.) Being in the office gave his advocacy for members and his vision for LibraryThing extra impact. He’s been at the center of every major decision–from features to hires–for some time now. He’d be harder to miss if his contribution was not more obvious in the culture he leaves behind.

Sad as we are, we’re also excited for him too. He’s been passionate about Rare Book School for years–continuing to help out there in the summer was a condition of his taking the job. Charlottesville is a beautiful place. It is also close by Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson built his library. When he left Jeremy gave my son Liam a children’s book about Monticello and Jefferson’s love of books. It is fitting that Jeremy is there now, with his Jefferson-sized library and bibliophilia.

So, from me and all the LibraryThing staff, thank you Jeremy.


1. In case you’re wondering, our social-media job is still open, but closing fast. See the job post.

Labels: employees, employment, jefferson, jeremy dibbell, jobs, legacy libraries

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Signers’ Libraries on LibraryThing

Did you know that in addition to the libraries of more than 1.5 million members from around the world, LibraryThing is also home to the libraries of (so far) 19 Signers of the Declaration of Independence? The Legacy Libraries project started with a Signer (Thomas Jefferson), and we’ve continued to add to our “collection” over the past few years. You can see the status and source notes we’ve found so far for all 56 Signers here. Of the 19 that have been entirely or substantially added to LibraryThing already are four of the five members of the committee responsible for drafting the Declaration:

  • Thomas Jefferson (Virginia), 5,597 cataloged
  • John Adams (Massachusetts), 1,741 cataloged
  • Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), 3,747 cataloged
  • Roger Sherman (Connecticut), 105 cataloged*
  • The other Signers represented on LibraryThing so far:

  • John Hancock (Massachusetts), 91 cataloged
  • George Clymer (Pennsylvania), 41 cataloged
  • Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts), 326 cataloged
  • Button Gwinnett (Georgia), 12 cataloged
  • Stephen Hopkins (Rhode Island), 91 cataloged
  • Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), 503 cataloged
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr. (South Carolina), 38 cataloged
  • Thomas McKean (Delaware), 49 cataloged
  • Lewis Morris (New York), 113 cataloged
  • Robert Treat Paine (Massachusetts), 550 cataloged
  • George Read (Maryland), 13 cataloged
  • Caesar Rodney (Delaware), 13 cataloged
  • George Taylor (Pennsylvania), 35 cataloged
  • John Witherspoon (New Jersey), 988 cataloged
  • George Wythe (Virginia), 369 cataloged
  • All told, the Signers’ libraries added so far include 14,421 titles. You can check out the top books shared among the Signers’ libraries here. Top five:

  • Commentaries on the Laws of England by Sir William Blackstone
  • A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America by John Adams
  • The Spectator by Joseph Addison et al.
  • Euclid’s Elements
  • Virgil’s Poems
  • If you’re signed into LibraryThing, see what books you have in common with Signers of the Declaration of Independence on your Legacy Libraries stats page (just choose Advanced options and compare the Signers to you). Here’s my list, or see Tim’s.

    Browse the information we’ve collected so far about the other Signers’ libraries here; updates and new information is always appreciated; drop me an email anytime or post a message in the group! We’re always collecting new sources and adding new books for these libraries, so every little piece is welcome.

    Another key Founding-era library on LibraryThing is that of George Washington, who was otherwise engaged in July 1776. You might have seen one of his books in the news recently.

    Beyond the Signers are the broader Libraries of Early America; we’ve found data on more than 1,250 pre-1825 libraries so far, with more added regularly. Or there are the libraries of Mayflower passengers (one of my favorite groups to work with at the moment).

    We’ll be continuing to catalog additional libraries, and to enhance the tools we use to analyze, display and share this material with the world, so stay tuned!


    * The fifth member of the committee, Robert R. Livingston of New York, left Congress before the Declaration was signed. His library on LibraryThing is in progress. Also still to be added is the library of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress when the Declaration was signed.

    Labels: jefferson, john adams, legacies, legacy libraries

    Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

    Happy 1815! Thomas Jefferson is done.

    An unusual member has finished adding his 4,889 books to LibraryThing—our third president, Thomas Jefferson!

    Jefferson, 264, was assisted by sixteen LibraryThing members, led by jbd1. Together, they cataloged 4,889 books (6,487 volumes), added 187 of his reviews (a treat), and tagged them 4,889 times, according to Jefferson’s own innovative/weird classification system.

    It was hard work, but it only took them four months. They worked from scholarly reconstructions of Jefferson’s 1815 books, tracking down records in 34 libraries around the world. As is well known, Jefferson sold his books to the Library of Congress, replacing the one the British destroyed during the War of 1812. This 1815 library is Jefferson’s best-documented library. (Of course, Jefferson spent the rest of his life building up another personal collection.)

    Why do it? What’s the point? After all, scans of the scholarly catalog were already available from the LC. But browsing his library is a breeze now—it’s a LibraryThing library just like another.

    From Jefferson’s profile you can take advantage of all the special features, like spying on his author cloud, tag cloud, author gallery and stats page. (Everyone knows he was a Francophile, but it’s neat to see he had 45% as many French as English books.)

    What’s your Jefferson number? You can also find out how many books you share, either on his profile or a new section on your stats page. Right now the top shared-user is ellenandjim, with 69 works and 79 books. Your number is going to go up, however, as the combination work continues.

    About the effort. The effort to catalog Jefferson’s books was coordinated through the group I See Dead People[‘s Books]. Here’s the post announcing the completion.

    It was exacting work. I stalled after few dozen books. Thanks are therefore due to the sixteen members who contributed, and particularly to the two biggest contributors, jbd1 and jjlong. I met jbd1—Jeremy Dibbell—at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. He is just weeks short of an MLS from Simmons College, and has just taken a full-time job at the Massachusetts Historical Society. About jjlong, Jeremy doesn’t know anything more than his first name, Joel, and his state, Tennessee. [UPDATE: Jeremy has put up his own blog post.]

    Work has already begun on other dead worthies, with William Faulkner and Tupac Shakur the farthest along. I’m guessing that when Jefferson’s opponent John Adams is entered, they’re show up as each other’s top sharers!

    Why Jefferson is Web 2.0 hip. As Tim O’Reilly recently put it*, LibraryThing (and Geni.com) presents different sorts of “social graph” (social network). On LibraryThing it’s not just “friends”—a powerful but rather simple way of seeing the world—but a different set of connections: how you relate to others through taste and interest. We’re aiming for something more than “who are your bookish friends?” or “what are your friends reading?” but “what is the world of books, and how do you fit in?”**

    A paradoxical result of this—one that the “Web 2.0″-types mostly don’t understand—is that not all uses of our “social network” are social. I watch a number of users I have never spoken to; their taste in books is interesting enough. The tags and recommendations I watch work the same way. They’re socially created, but they’re not always about social interaction.

    In MySpace and the lot, dead people are boring. Recently-deceased people get tributes on their comment page; MyDeathSpace has even built up a ghoulish, ad-driven business*** off teen suicides and car wrecks. But that’s about it. Historical dead people are jokes and get deleted.

    On LibraryThing there are no such limitations. Books are a sort of mental world, and shared books a shared mental space. Dead or alive, it’s interesting to know that Jefferson and I share the world of Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe and de las Casas’ Destruction of the Indies (he read both in Italian!). It’s also interesting too to see that Jefferson, a Deist, had more books on Christian theology than all but a few libraries in LibraryThing, 25 books of Ecclesiastical history and 19 of Ecclesiastical law!

    And Jefferson is just the start. Every library, bibliography and list, every publisher, author, bookseller and reader adds meaning to the whole, and there is no end to how the data can be turned. What books had both Jefferson and King George read? How many of my books were in the libraries of Photius or at Monte Cassino. What living author has my taste in novels? What NYT reviewer hates the same books I do? What bookstore sells the books I like? What town buys the most vampire smut? Calculating book-to-book affinities, which founding father is most likely to have enjoyed Chicken Soup for the Cat-Lover’s Soul? (It’s Burr, definitely.)


    * Near the end. Geni.com is a Web 2.0 genealogy site, where the dead people are the metadata!
    **I like the word bibliosphere, with its implicit comparison to the blogosphere. As stuffed-shirts like Michael Gorman fail to recognize, books have always been subjective, imperfect and in conversation with other books.
    ***A page of suicides is currently giving me a Viagra ad. They also make money from tshirts. Blech.

    Labels: jefferson, social networking, special libraries