Archive for the ‘librarything local’ Category

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Little Free Libraries, BookCrossing Zones and more in LibraryThing Local

Short Version:

LibraryThing members have banded together to add all known “Little Libraries,” including Little Free Libraries®, BookCrossing Zones™, the Dutch project “Minibieb” and others to LibraryThing Local, LibraryThing’s index and map of over 87,000 bookstores, libraries and other bookish places. Members have already added 749 of them. A slew of new features supports the project.

Check it out:

SqueakyChu‘s library, The Little Free Library of Twinbrook, in Rockville, MD

Long Version:

A long-time member, SqueakyChu, recently requested that we add Little Free Libraries (LFLs) to LibraryThing Local. Apparently the LFL people have been unable to keep up with all the new libraries, and have fallen months behind. Their own map is also limited compared to LibraryThing’s robust feature set. And having LFLs in LibraryThing Local would allow LibraryThing members to discover them, as well as users of our Readar iPhone app.

If you don’t know, Little Free Libraries is a grassroots movement sweeping the country and the world. “Stewards” build or buy them, set them up somewhere, often in their front yards, and fill them with books. Visitors take and leave books as they wish. BookCrossing, around since 2001(!), is a similar concept, encouraging and tracking the free exchange of books from reader to reader. Books can be released “into the wild” anywhere, but “BookCrossing Zones” (BCZs) are special spaces set up to facilitate this exchange.

We’ve discussed similar efforts before, and approached both organizations for a feed, without success. We’d love to work with either or both, and will (of course) share our data. But we’re not going to wait. We want people to know about these great projects, and all the other informal sharing libraries out there. So we jumped in. Before releasing it, we had our “Board for Extreme Thing Advances” group to work on it, and they added almost 700 venues, and worked out all the conventions we needed.

Little Free Libraries in Connecticut

New features

How do I add venues?

If you’re interested in adding Little Libraries, here are some resources:

Little Free Libraries

  • Members have set up a Wiki Page, recording what states and countries have already been entered, and which haven’t
  • Check out the discussion topic, where members hash out conventions and trade tips

BookCrossing Zones

We’re still figuring out how to find and add all official and unofficial zones. If you’re interested, join the conversation.

Other libraries

“Little Libraries” is for small collections of every type, not just book exchanges. The Dutch projects MiniBieb and Boekspots are closely analogous to Little Free Libraries, so they fit. But, as I’ve written before, cities and towns throughout the world are filled with such collections, from coffee shops to churches, from community centers to advocacy groups. At present we’re focusing on fully “public” venues, but the many types available to choose from means it can all go in, with suitable filters for what you want and what you don’t want.

Come Talk about this project.

Labels: librarything local, local books, member projects, new feature, new features

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

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Mark the bookstores and libraries you’ve visited

UPDATE: See below for some new privacy controls we’ve added.

LibraryThing has long had a way to mark your favorite bookstores and libraries from LibraryThing Local, LibraryThing’s database of more than 80,000 bookish venues and 60,000 upcoming events.

Today we’ve added a way to mark places you’ve visited—in general or, by a simple “check in” button, the day you visit somewhere. You also get new lists of where you’ve been, and maps.

Here’s what the new visited options look like on a venue page.

By default everything you mark as favorite is also marked “visited.” But you can un-click “visited,” if a place is a favorite but you haven’t visited it.

Update: I’ve changed it so that the default is that favorites do NOT show up “venues visited.” To make them show up there, either mark them as visited or edit your local settings. By popular request on Talk, I’ve also added new settings to allow members to make both venue favorites and venue visited private—visible to themselves only. Here’s what the options look like, with the default state. Understand, venue favorites have ALWAYS been public. So this is an increase in user privacy. (Note that author favorites are still public. We will work to make them optionally private.)

Here’s the “Your visited” page, listing all the venues you’ve visited and the ones you’ve checked into. At present, all check-ins are public. (There will be preference options soon.)

Here’s what the large map of venues you’ve visited looks like:

You can see my list of visited venues and my large map. They’re a work in progress, but it’s liberating to be able to record all venues, not just those I want to mark out as special favorites.

Whether on a venue page, your visited page or in your News Feed page, you can share your status on Facebook and Twitter. When you click “share” it looks like it usually does:

Let us know what you think, report bugs or suggest improvements on Talk at New Features: Mark the bookstores and libraries you’ve visited.

Labels: bookstores, librarything local, new feature, new features

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

New Local: LibraryThing Local Gets a Redo

We’re very excited to announce a whole series of improvements to LibraryThing Local, your gateway to tens of thousands of bookstores, libraries, book festivals, author readings and other bookish venues and events.




The major improvements are:

Speed. As the data grew, Local got slow, especially if you lived somewhere like New York. The html pages for places like that were also gigantic. (And I mean gigantic. They crashed browsers!) New Local is much faster, with page-load times of a few seconds at most, and pages under 100k.

Better, bigger maps. You can now zoom, click and drag the maps and new venues will come in dynamically. (Before they just stopped outside the sample area.) Each map also has a full page mode (see New York, NY) that fills the page.

More venues! More events! Our recent push for events produced a huge influx of new venues and events. We also wrote special scrapers for most of the major publishers, and B&N and IndieBound stores, which more-than-doubled what users entered.

We’re up to 80,500 venues, including 28,000 bookstores and 45,000 libraries, and 118,000 bookish events, including nearly 10,000 upcoming.

All-in-all, we’re confident that no other source has as much information on bookish events as LibraryThing Local.

Books for Ghana. We’re also extremely pleased that by adding events to LT Local, members raised more than $1,700 for needy readers. So far we’ve contributed $600 of that to Keith Goddard’s Books4Ghana campaign on Indiegogo, putting that effort over the top. This will fund the shipping of several thousand books to the Bright Future School in Keta, Ghana this spring. We hope to work with Keith more going forward.

New version of Readar. We’ve updated Readar (formerly Local Books) to make it compatible with the 5S.

If you haven’t used it yet, Readar is a simple app for bookstores, libraries and bookish events near you. I use it all the time at home—every time I want to call a bookstore, they’re all right there. And I use it whenever I go on a trip, so I know where to spend my free time.

Local Members. The Local members page, which shows members near you who’ve chosen to make their location public, has been thoroughly revamped and updated, with a pleasant checkerboard view. It’s on “infinite scroll,” so that it loads ahead of you, like Pinterest. The members are sorted semi-randomly, with members who are more active on LibraryThing or share something with you nearer the top.

To add a public location, or remove yours, edit your profile. As of now, only about 27% of members have public locations. You also have a “private location,” so you can find out what’s going on in your town without telling anyone where that is!

Profile page changes. Just some slight tweaking on your profile page: we’ve moved the “About me” and “About my library” sections up a bit, so they now appear before your lists of groups and favorite authors and venues. We’ve added a “Favorite venues” link directly to your LT Local Favorites page.

Event filtering. Back in November we added a way for members to filter out events they didn’t have any interest in seeing. We’ve expanded that to filter out some less “pertinent” events—mostly all the Nook demos at B&N stores—at a global level, so they won’t show unless you want them to. You can toggle to seeing absolutely everything by choosing “all” instead of “most” above event lists.

Helper stats. We’re rearranged the Stats/Memes page a bit, adding a Helper section where you can see all your Helper badges, your Common Knowledge contributions, and your additions to LibraryThing Local. The new Local page shows all the venues and events you’ve added so far. (See yours or MDGentleReader‘s.)

Better Venue Linking. Linking up the brief location info on publishers sites (eg., “Tattered Cover, Denver”) to their real-life LibraryThing venues (e.g., this) has become a crucial step in getting so many events in LT Local. We’ve improved the Help Connect Bookstores and Libraries to LibraryThing page to help helpers out more—providing a list of best matches. It speeds things up enormously. (Many thanks to MDGentleReader, rosalita, eromsted, lilithcat, SqueakyChu and many others for doing so many the old way.)

Talk about it. Come talk about the changes here! If you find a bug, tell us here.

Labels: events, librarything local, new features

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

Monday, November 19th, 2012

LibraryThing Local Events upgrades

We’ve been making some changes to how events are added and displayed in LibraryThing Local. The big change is a simplified way to add events: the old system, involving picking authors, picking books and characterizing the event (“X reads from Y”) is out, replaced by a simple description box, but with the ability to add touchstones, just like on Talk.

To add events, go to the venue page or just go to “Add event” http://www.librarything.com/local_add_v2.php

The goal is simplicity. The new interface requires less—some people will just paste descriptions in. But events are primarily about what’s going on near you, not finding out where in the country so-and-so is speaking next month. If you use touchstones, however, it creates the links and puts the events on the author’s LibraryThing page, which is handy.

Here’s what it looks like:

Come discuss in the Talk thread.

Events added under the new system can also include a cover image (it will display the most popular cover of a work touchstoned in the event description):

And finally (though there’s more coming soon!), there’s now a way to filter out events you don’t want to see or aren’t interested in (by author, store, or keyword).

When you mouse over the event, clicking on the “x” leads you to a list of options. Basically, you can filter out the event, the venue, or any events with certain words in them (eg., “storytime”). You can set your event filters at http://www.librarything.com/editprofile/local (the “Local” option under “Edit profile and settings.”). Come discuss here.

Stay tuned for some more news on LT Local and events soon!

Labels: events, librarything local, new feature, new features

Friday, September 24th, 2010

All US Libraries in LibraryThing Local, we think

Thanks to some serious work on the part of volunteers, all libraries (and branches) in the United States have a page in LibraryThing Local. Volunteer members took information for each library from publiclibraries.com, and created or added it to Local. The last bazillion entries were done by lemontwist, to whom we are very grateful.

Since we also added the ability to upload more than one venue photo, I suggest we start an official LibraryThing sport, the goal being to take a photo of yourself in front of as many public libraries as you can visit, and add them to each library’s page. Here, I’ll start.

You can read the thread about adding all the libraries here.

This also means that you should be able to find any US library when you’re out and about with your iPhone, with the Local Books app.

Do we really have them all?
The volunteers were as thorough as possible, but if you find a library or branch that isn’t listed, go ahead and add it (here’s the help page). If you live outside the US and find a list of your country’s libraries, let us know, and we can work on adding all your libraries into Local as well.


Cambridge Public Library photo by Nicole Hennig, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Seattle Public Library photo by the Seattle Municipal Archives, Copyright: Item No. 147779 Use with attribution allowed. Permission info here.

Labels: librarything local

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Local Books iPhone application!

» Take me right to iTunes

Short version. We’ve just released our first foray into iPhone development, a free application called “Local Books.”

Local Books resembles popular dining apps like LocalEats or UrbanSpoon—but for book lovers. It shows you local bookstores, libraries and bookish events wherever you are or plan to be.

I’ve been using beta versions on my trips for months already; it’s the ideal travel companion. Even if you know your area well, you’re almost certain to find new places. We hope it will be a shot in the arm for physical bookstores and libraries—a new way to see how much bookishness there is around you.

At present Local Books does not show inventory from local bookstores and libraries. But, well, isn’t that a good idea?

Check it out on iTunes.

Features. Features include:

  • Search for venues (bookstores and libraries) as well as events near your current location using the iPhone’s built-in location features.
  • Search for venues and events at any location or by name.
  • Venues can be sorted by distance, name, or type.
  • Venues are color coded, following the maps on LibraryThing Local (colors correspond to the colors used on maps in LibraryThing Local).
  • Each venue has a detail page with a map. Tap it to jump to the iPhone Maps application.
  • Venues often sport a description, clickable website and phone number links, events, and a photo.
  • You can favorite locations and events, and there’s a “Favorites” list where you can find them.(1)

Powered by LibraryThing Local. Local Books is powered by LibraryThing Local, the LibraryThing member-created database of 51,000 bookstores and libraries around the world. Events too are drawn from LibraryThing Local. Notably, since last night we’ve had a four-fold increase in events, as we started pulling in events from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waterstones and Indigo/Chapters, as well as IndieBound.

Why We Did It. Creating Local Books wasn’t free. We hired an outside house to help us. (Well, semi-outside; half of ConceptHouse is our in-house programmer Chris/ConceptDawg.) There’s no “monetization” at all.

We did it because, despite the dozens of dining, clubbing and other location applications, nobody had done a good book one before. True, IndieBound recently came out with an elegant iPhone app.(2) But indies are not the only bookstores. And libraries, which far exceed bookstores and are almost everywhere, are absolutely critical. We’ve always thought of the book world in the largest possible terms, and we wanted an iPhone application that did that too.

Most of all, Local Books is our contribution to keeping the book world interesting. Amazon and other online retailers are great. LibraryThing is great too. But book lovers can’t be happy in a world with fewer and fewer physical bookstores, and a rising threat to libraries. The more we know about this physical book world, the better we can foster it, and the better we can use websites like LibraryThing and Amazon to improve our world, not replace it.

How You Can Help. Even with 51,000 venues, not every bookstore and library is in LibraryThing. If you know of one that’s not in there, go ahead and add it. If you represent the bookstore or library in question, you can “claim” your venue page, and start using LibraryThing to connect to your customers or patrons.

Even if they’re all there, most are still missing something—a photograph, a phone number, a good description, a Twitter handle. Events—especially indie bookstores and libraries—are a particular need.

It’s a virtuous cycle. The better we can make the data, the more people will find the application useful, and the more people who will make it better

Oh, and vote up the application, will ya? :)

Links.


1. The favorites feature in the app is not tied to your favorites list on LibraryThing.com. We didn’t want to require sign-in and so forth.
2. The IndieBound application does allow you to search for books, but only off their online catalog. There’s no tie-in to local holdings. Even if it had that, most Indie bookstores do not upload their inventory to IndieBound, and, again, neither bookstores or independent bookstores should be the only option for book lovers.

Special thanks to the “Board for Extreme Thing Advances,” our beta group, who put the application through it’s paces before release. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Labels: iphone, librarything local, local book search, local books

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Four times as many event listings

Overnight I added 3,364 bookish events to LibraryThing Local.

That more-than quadruples the number of events in LibraryThing Local!

The new events were from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waterstones UK and Indigo/Chapters stores. Together with IndieBound—already in the system—this covers the largest English-language bookstore chains that also have event listings.

We are, of course, looking for new event sources. Publishers are probably our next stop. But members have been the largest single source of events, and will always be critical, especially for libraries and independent bookstores that don’t use IndieBound event listings.

It should also be said that none of this would be possible if members hadn’t helped us to add LibraryThing venues for all the stores in question, and hook their numbers up to ours. This was critical for our innovative Local Book Search, and we plan to do even more with these linkages in the future.

To add a new event go to LibraryThing Local, or just start here.


PS: This isn’t a coincidence. We’re going to be releasing something related—and big—tomorrow! :)

Labels: events, librarything local, local book search, members

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Augmented reality for LibraryThing Local

See more screenshots. Yes, that’s Portland new The Green Hand Bookshop!

LibraryThing programmer Mike has put together a LibraryThing “overlay” for the mobile phone app Layar. It draws on LibraryThing Local to show you the closest bookstores and libraries.

Layar turns your mobile device into an “augmented reality” window on the world. In our case, the app. shows you dots for local bookstores and libraries, so you can head in the right direction, as well as information about it.

Visit Apple’s app store or the Android market to get it. Unfortunately, because it relies on the “compass,” you’ll need an iPhone 3GS (the new ones) or Android phone.

I’m somewhat skeptical of the augmented reality idea, at least until we have heads-up displays inside our eyeglasses. It doesn’t help that Mike’s Android phone has a misaligned compass. But Layar has map and list functions that are extremely useful. Travelers will be particularly impressed by the ability to land somewhere, and instantly know where the local bookstores are.

We have our own “Local Books” application coming out soon. We think it’s going to be a big hit. Until then—and for the added kick of augmented reality—this is some pretty cool stuff.

Come let us know what you think.

Labels: augmented reality, layar, librarything local