Archive for the ‘new features’ Category

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

BOOM! Add Books Adds 749 Library Sources, 38 New Countries

UPDATE: As of today (May 19th), we’ve reached a grand total of 2,160 working library sources, covering 110 countries! See the updated map at right reflecting our latest stats. New countries include: Ethiopia, Egypt, Bahrain, Nepal, Belarus, Luxembourg, (Northern) Cyprus, and the US Virgin Islands.


Last week we announced six new data sources: Amazon in India, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Spain and China.

Today we’re announcing a far larger advance in sources—a leap from 426 working library sources last week to 1,175 working library sources today! For this, as we will explain, we have LT members to thank.

All told, we’ve gone from sources in 40 countries before, to sources in 78 countries now, covering many new regions and languages.

Entirely new sources total 668, but another 81 were fixed—sources that had died sometime in recent years. Other “working” sources were tweaked, fixing search and character-set problems.

Dead sources accumulated because LibraryThing didn’t have the staff resources, or a good system to monitor and edit existing sources. We now have a new, interactive system for adding, editing and testing library sources. And we have also opened this up to members, starting with a hand-picked set of librarians and library workers with experience handling these systems (z39.50 servers).

We expected we’d get help, but we were astounded by how much. Top honors go to davidgn, who added more than 500 new libraries, and fixed many as well. Members lesmel and bnielsen also contributed considerably, together with LT staffer Chris Catalfo, who wrote the code for the new system. A round of applause for all!

New Sources, New Countries, New Languages

At the top of this post is an animation demonstrating the growth of the sources—initial sources, new countries (red), and finally, where we are today.You can see the individual frames here, here, and here.

You can see big advances in Central and South America, which went from one source in one country to 35 sources in nine countries. Africa went from 0 countries to six, and many were added in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. The countries that already had many sources also grew—the UK went from 44 to 60, Canada from 42 to 106 and the USA from 261 to 544! (The generosity and public-spiritedness of American public and academic libraries in providing open z39.50 connections is truly remarkable.)

Some of the most useful and important new sources are:

North America: Brooklyn Public Library, California State Library, Massachusetts Historical Society (USA), National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (USA), Maine State Library (Maine), Vancouver Public Library (Canada), University of Toronto (Canada), University of Waterloo (Canada), University of Ottawa (Canada), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico).

South America: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia), Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno (Argentina), Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru).

Europe: London School of Economics (UK), University of Warwick (UK), University of Cyprus (Cyprus), Armenian Libraries Union Catalog (Armenia), FENNICA and VIOLA, the national bibliography and discography of Finland, Latvian Academic Union Catalog, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (Portugal), Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain/Catalonia), Universidad de Sevilla (Spain).

Africa and the Middle East: University of Ghana, American University of Kuwait, American University of Beirut, University of Lagos (Nigeria), Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, Sultan Qaboos University (Oman), National University of Lesotho, Ege Üniversitesi (Turkey).

Asia and Oceanea: University of Melbourne (Australia), Okayama University (Japan), National Taiwan University, University of Macao, Africa University (Zimbabwe).

A New, User-Editable Sources System

As mentioned above, the updates were made possible by a new system which allows select LibraryThing members to edit and add library sources. Those members are able to change any out of date connection parameters, which have been a perennial problem as libraries change systems and settings over time.

See the screenshots on the right for how it works.

How can you help?

Post your feedback and questions on Talk. If you have a library you’d like to be able to use in cataloging your books here on LibraryThing, post them on that same Talk thread! Going forward, you can post about it in the Recommended Site Improvements group at any time.

If you’re a librarian or library professional who’d like to help with updating and adding new sources, get in touch with our developer Chris Catalfo (ccatalfo) and we’ll add you to the group Library Add Books Sources Maintenance, which opens up source editing. Because the details are so technical, and there’s some danger of messing things up, we’re making group membership by request only.

Labels: cataloging, new features

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Six New Sources: Amazon India, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and China

We’re pleased to announce the addition of six new Amazon sites to LibraryThing’s cataloging sources. They are:

This is big news, because although we’ve had academic library sources for these countries and languages, Amazon has far more books for most readers, and is always faster.

UPDATE: Books, Music, and Movies

Initially these sources were available for books only. However, we’ve now added movies and music data from all but one of them. Amazon Brazil only has data for books available. Amazon India, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and China all have the option to search their books, music, and movies data.

To use them, go to Add Books, look under “Search where?” on the left-hand side of the page, and click “Add from 1077 sources.”

If you run into any issues, or have other feedback or questions, post them on Talk.

LibraryThing in Not-English?

Many members don’t know, but LibraryThing is available in more than a dozen languages, including ones for the new sources:

All translations have been done by members—an amazing amount of love and effort. Other sites include French, Germany, and our best-maintained translation, Catalan. See all of them.

Labels: cataloging, new features

Monday, August 15th, 2016

New Feature: True Excel Export

After years of CSV and TSV exports, we’ve added a “true” Excel export for your catalog. Find yours here: https://www.librarything.com/export.php?export_type=xls.

It’s a minimal, simple implementation. We made the headings bold, changed some column widths and defined some columns as text and some as numbers, but otherwise left the data as-is. We tested it out, but there are so many versions of Excel out there, that we’d appreciate feedback from members too.

Let us know what you think in Talk.

Screenshot 2016-08-15 15.39.59

Labels: export, new features

Monday, October 19th, 2015

LibraryThing App!

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We’re thrilled to announce the official LibraryThing iPhone App!

Free accounts. We’re giving away lifetime memberships to anyone who uses the app for the next month. Register for a new account using the LibraryThing App, or sign into the app with an existing account, and you’ll be automatically upgraded.

What it does. This is our first version, so we’ve limited it to doing the most basic functions you’ll need for cataloging on the go:

  • Browse and search your library.
  • Add books by scanning barcodes. Scanning to add is VERY FAST!
  • Add books by searching.
  • Browse and upload covers, using the iPhone camera.
  • Do minor editing, such as changing collections and ratings. Major editing sends you to LibraryThing.

Check out the app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/librarything/id948824489?mt=8

Come tell us what you think, and join the discussion on Talk. Need help? Check out our App Help Page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an Android version of the app?
Not yet. With luck, we’ll do that next. Tim outlined some of the key reasons why we did iPhone first here.

Does it work on wifi? Offline?
Wifi, you bet. Offline, no.

Can I use it on my iPad?
It’s designed for the iPhone, but works on the iPad. NB: iPad cameras don’t have a built in flash, so you’ll want to make sure you’re scanning barcodes in a well-lit room.

Will you add X, Y, or Z features?
The app will never do everything, but future versions will do more. Your feedback is welcome on this Talk topic.

Labels: app, new features

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Music and movie cataloging (but we’re still a book site)

Short version: LibraryThing is and will remain a book site. But we never stopped people from cataloging other media, like movies and music. We’re now making it much easier to do. Check it out and add your non-book library at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks.

Medium version: LibraryThing is a book site, and will remain so. But many members, especially our small libraries, have always cataloged other media, such as movies and music. We allowed it, but didn’t support it well at all. In particular, we disabled non-book searching on Amazon, allowing it only on our library sources.

A few months ago we introduced a robust concept of media format. We’ve now opened up cataloging other media on the Amazon sources, which are far easier and better for the purpose.

Check it out at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks

trash_moviesmusic

Long version:

Why Are We Doing This? Adding other media has been planned for years. The main driver has been small libraries—churches, community centers, small museums, etc.—a major constituent of LibraryThing’s success. Although small libraries mostly collect books, they don’t limit themselves to books any more than public and academic libraries do. Our failings in the area really hurt us.

This change means that LibraryThing is now a “complete” cataloging system. This lets us reach small libraries as we never could before—something we plan to do even more strongly when TinyCat debuts.

We are also conscious that many “regular” members wanted to catalog their non-book libraries. I want to, anyway, and I know I’m not alone.

Worried? We are conscious of some members’ worries, for example that LibraryThing is “turning into” a movie site. These are valid concerns. Here’s how we responded and will respond:

Screenshot 2015-09-14 14.16.30
Movies have been on LibraryThing for a long time.
  • LibraryThing is a site for book lovers and readers. This isn’t going to change.
  • Books get me and the rest of the team up in the morning. That isn’t going to change.
  • LibraryThing has had movies and music since the beginning—hundreds of thousands are already cataloged. Directors and composers have had author pages since the beginning. The recommendations system has recommended movies and music since the beginning. If movies “pollute” LibraryThing, it’s been polluted for a long time.
  • Now, however, we know what’s a book, a movie, and so forth. Knowing means we can adapt the site’s features to deal with that. As a start, by popular request, we’ve changed our site search to “facet” by format. Other accomodations, like a way to refuse all non-book recommendations, can certainly be considered.
  • We don’t expect a crushing influx of non-book media or members. But if LibraryThing appeals to new people who want to catalog all their media, that isn’t a bad thing.

New Features. The following features have been added, or changed, in order of importance.

  • Add Books sources now include music, movies and combined sources for all the Amazon national sites (e.g., “Amazon.com books, music and movies”).
  • To build awareness, we’ve added one “Amazon books, music and movies” source to all members’ sources. If you don’t want it, the new Add Books sources system makes it easy to delete. There are also sources for just movies and just music.
  • Amazon-added movies and music have covers, based on the ASIN, not the ISBN. This change also gives LibraryThing ebook covers.
  • We’ve added media-based faceting in site search.
  • You can search both Amazon and Overcat by UPC.

Cataloging Non-Books Media. Movies and music aren’t books, but libraries catalog them with some of the same basic structure and concepts. Movies and music have titles, publication dates, subjects, Dewey classifications, etc. “Authors” is more complex. Library records generally mix directors, actors, producers and screenwriters into one set of contributors, with their roles not always marked. Amazon records are better here, clearly delineating the various roles. But they don’t have the name-control libraries have.

We’ve solved this as follows:

  • When possible, movies get director as their main author. This is always possible with Amazon records, but not with library records.
  • We’ve improved how we handle author names from Amazon, leveraging Amazon data against what we know from tens of millions of library records. So, for example, we’re handing “The Beatles” as “The Beatles” not “Beatles, The.” This change improves Amazon cataloging generally.
  • Where listed, actors, producers, musicians and so forth get secondary author status and roles. This means that actors have LibraryThing author pages. (But they had them before, as noted above. If this proves a problem, we can mark them somehow as a site-wide feature.)
  • We’ve improved media format detection of MARC records within Overcat, especially for odd MARC formats, like DANMARC (a specialized MARC format used in—you guessed it—Denmark).

Let Us Know. Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new feature, new features

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Edit and reorder sources in Add Books

Good news: We’ve improved the sources system within Add Books a lot.

Bad news: We had to transition to an entirely new sources system. Most members kept their sources, but some members and some sources couldn’t go into the new system easily. If you lost sources, you may need to choose them again. Fortunately, the new system’s a lot better at that.

You can find the new options on Add Books:
searchwhere

Everything now happens in a light box. The “Your Sources” tab allows you to reorder and delete sources.
yoursources

You can browse and choose sources, divided into “Featured” and “All Sources” on the other two tabs.
featured

As you’ll notice, a fair number of our sources are currently down. We’re working to get as many up again as possible, and add new ones. If you’d like to help and know something about Z39.50 connections, you’ll find we give our current connection details when you click the yellow warning marker.

You’ll also see other, very significant new stuff. But that’s a matter for another blog post!

Three cheers to our developer Ammar for the add-books changes!

Labels: cataloging, new features

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Cover Improvements!

As we’ve hinted, we’ve made some big changes to covers on LibraryThing recently. There are more covers to choose from than ever, and we’re excited to show you what’s new!

1. All of the Covers from Amazon

No, really, all of them. LibraryThing now shows all Amazon covers for your books and other media—this includes covers for books with ASINs (and no ISBNs). So many of your ebooks, CDs and DVDs now have Amazon covers available to use.

You can also see stats on your cover usage—where your covers come from, and how many of them you’re using from various sources. To see where your covers are coming from, check out the Book Covers section of Stats/Memes.

2. Change your cover, keep your ISBN

Changing the cover for one of your books to a different Amazon cover no longer forces you to change the ISBN of your book. You’ll still have the option to switch ISBNs if you like, but it’s no longer required. When switching to a new Amazon cover that’s associated with a different ISBN, you’ll see the dialog box pictured at right, with a check box to indicate whether you’d like to change your ISBN, too.

3. Cover Flagging

Members have long been able to flag cover images that are not valid covers for a given work, by voting “yes” or “no” on an individual cover. Now those flags really matter—covers with enough flags can’t be chosen as the main cover for a work. Like this picture of some seals on a beach, which is definitely not a cover.*

To try it out, select a cover image, click the “Information” magnifying glass, and then click the “Flag this cover” link in the detail box that pops up.

UPDATE: I FORGOT TO ADD!

4. Real fake covers
Screenshot 2015-09-10 16.57.20Lastly, works without covers are now showing the title on the fake cover. See example, example, example. Or see the image to the right.

The trick is, the words aren’t superimposed on the covers. We’re actually making images that include the words on the covers. This is a neat trick, allowing us to produce “fake” covers at any size we want, wherever we want–on any page, inside or outside of LibraryThing.

So far this technology is only on work pages. It’ll be spreading elsewhere soon.

Questions? Comments?

Any questions or trouble with new covers? Come join the discussion on Talk.


* Covers will be flagged down if:
  • Vote “yes” totals at least 4.
  • Vote “yes” totals at least 3x vote “no”.

Labels: covers, new features

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Sneak Peek: TinyCat for Small Libraries

tc_wordmark_lt_700

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

What is TinyCat? TinyCat turns LibraryThing into a powerful, simple, online catalog for so-called “tiny libraries” (less than 20,000 titles).

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

TinyCat is:

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

Screenshots (click images for large size)

search_partial

detail_partial

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

New Feature: MARC Import

This is not a bobcat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labels: cataloging, new features, small libraries

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

New: Printed Library Barcode Labels

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IMG_5305

Keep track of your books like a pro.

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

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

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

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

Price

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

Other details

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

Go ahead and check it out.

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

Here are some more photos:

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

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

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