Archive for the ‘new features’ Category

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Rate Recommendations

I’ve added a new feature for members to help improve the quality of LibraryThing’s automatic recommendations. It mirrors something we did for author recommendations. This time it’s for works, addressing those times when you see a bum recommendation, or spot a book that’s too low on the list.

You can find the new “Rate Recommendations” feature in the “LibraryThing Recommendations” section of work pages. Click on “Rate Recommendations” and you get the expanded “rating” view.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.04.23 PM

Rating is divided into ten boxes.(1) All things being equal, giving something six or more sends the recommendation up, and giving something five or less sends it down. We’re going to see how it develops before finalizing the algorithm, which will remain intentionally obscure.(2)

In addition to appearing on work pages, I’ve also made a page for members to rapidly peruse their works’ recommendations, and chime in on them, without going work page by work page. It keeps track of how many works’ recommendations you rated, among other statistics.

You can find your page here:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.08.59 PM

Here’s the Talk post about it. Come tell us what you think!

(1) It’s the same system as five stars, with half stars. Indeed, that was the original system for the author recommendation rating. But we decided it was too much like rating the book.
(2) At present, we’ve giving it a lot of power. This will probably be reduced. Either way, there’ll be factors other than the mere presence of a rating at work.

Labels: new feature, new features, recommendations

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

LibraryThing adds SSL


LibraryThing has added SSL encryption to all pages that ask for private data.

That means the data you submit for signing in—signing up, changing your password, changing your email, etc.—is securely encrypted between you and LibraryThing. Depending on your browser, this will show up as a “lock” symbol, or just a change in the LibraryThing URL from http:// to https://.

Is LibraryThing going all-SSL?

We have decided on this as a first step, with the intention of going to all-SSL, or all-SSL for signed-in members only, as soon as practicable.

Going all-SSL is going to require considerable work, sifting through all the non-http URLs to avoid “mixed content” messages. Although these vary in their obtrusiveness browser-by-browser, going all-SSL without extensive testing is likely to lead to a lot more in confusion that it solves in potential problems.

As a result of this change, if you previously chose to browse LibraryThing using SSL, ignoring the warnings, you will no longer be able to do so. Rather, if you’re on one of the selected, user-data pages, it now forces you to use https. If you’re not on one of these pages, it forces you to use http.

At present, the solution covers and all its subdomains, like (Danish), (Brazilian Portuguese). It is not installed on separate domains, like (Germany) and (Holland). We will be weighing our options there, as SSL certificates are expensive.

Come discuss this on Talk, if you like.

Labels: new features, security, servers

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, 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

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

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 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 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

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

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”

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 (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

Monday, November 5th, 2012

New ways to slice books by tags

LibraryThing members have added more than 91 million tags. It’s a truly unique repository of how real readers think about their books—the only sizeable bookish “folksonomy.” To bring out more in that data, I’ve added three new ways to slice the books for a given tag—sorting by a weighted proportion, recent popularity and recent publication.

Come learn more and talk about on Talk.

Labels: new features, tags

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

New feature: your list statistics

LibraryThing Lists is still a “semi-released” feature, but we’ve added a simple statistics feature to show you where your books match up with lists created so far:

If you’re signed in, you can find List statistics here:

If you’re not signed in, here’s Tim’s:

You can find lists (and create your own!) here:

Here’s a look at the by-list view:

And in the by-work view:

Come discuss the feature here.

Labels: new feature, new features, statistics