Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

New: Search your groups and connections

We’ve added a new cross-library search feature. You can now search:

This opens up all sorts of possibilities: you and your family members or friends can create a group together and easily search across the all the books in your libraries, or start a neighborhood group*. You can look for interesting books within a given group. For example, Tim enjoys searching for “Alexander the Great” in the Alexander the Great group.

Be creative, and if you do something really nifty with this feature, make sure and tell us about it!

Come discuss it on Talk. Many thanks to members of the Board for Extreme Thing Advances for help developing this feature.

* I’m already seeing Tim combining this new feature with the “what should you borrow?” recommendations so that he can plunder my bookshelves!

Labels: connection news, features, groups, new feature, new features, search

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

LibraryThing still interviewing great PHP hackers

We’ve managed to fill our systems-administrator position. (We’ll tell you about him when he starts on Friday, but I can report he hails from the the Sunflower State.) But we’re still actively looking for 1-2 great PHP hackers. Applicants can be from anywhere, though Portland, Maine applicants get free coffee during their interview.

If you’re interested, check out this blog post. System administration skills are no longer a primary need, but they can’t hurt either.

If you want to test your brain a bit, check out the LibraryThing Programming Quiz. We’re asking all applicants to take it, and tell us how they did.

Labels: employees, employment

Monday, August 8th, 2011

August Early Reviewers Batch is up!

The August 2011 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 97 books this month, and a grand total of 2,219 copies to give out. This month’s batch includes new books by Matthew Pearl, Neal Stephenson, Charles Frazier, and Alison Weir!

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:

The deadline to request a copy is Tuesday, August 30th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, and a whole bunch more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Bloomsbury Orbit Books Taylor Trade Publishing
Henry Holt and Company Double Day Religion Putnam Books
Wave Books Mulholland Books Telegram Books
Saqi Books Ballantine Books The Permanent Press
Chronicle Books Orca Book Publishers Sterling Publishing
Divine Design Tundra Books South Dakota State Historical Society Press
WaterBrook Press Atomic Fez Publishing Sagebrush Press Bookstore
Eirini Press Gray & Company, Publishers Penguin Young Readers Group
The Writer’s Coffee Shop Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Quirk Books
St. Martin’s Griffin Skyhorse Publishing Crossway
Nolo Kensington Publishing Pomegranate
Scribner Indigo Ink Press Barbour Books
William Morrow Wilderness Press Menasha Ridge Press
Beacon Press JournalStone Prufrock Press
Gotham Books Totem Books Penguin Group (USA)
PediNatural (TLS Kids Books) Human Kinetics Avon
Alder Hill Press Cinco Vidas Random House
Spiegel & Grau Coffeetown Press Lee & Low Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Import your LivingSocial/Visual Bookshelf books and save your reviews

LivingSocial announced last week that they’ll be shuttering their Books section, formerly called “Visual Bookshelf,” as of August 10.

Living Social recommends migrating to another site, but if you do it you’ll lose all your reviews. Living Social splits your data up into multiple files and only the main one can be imported, the “collections” file. We’ve cooked up a better option that preserves your reviews as well.

As a bonus, anyone importing 25 books or more will get a lifetime account on LibraryThing!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to and click the “Join Now” button to create a LibraryThing account.
  2. Sign into your Living Social books account; you’ll see the large black box in the center of the page with three export buttons (Collections, Ratings*, Reviews).
  3. Click the “Export Collections” button and save the file to your desktop; then click the “Export Reviews” button and save that one too (they’ll be called “collection_books_….csv” and “review_books_…..csv”).
  4. On LibraryThing, go to the Import Books page (via the “More” tab at the top of any page on LibraryThing).
  5. Click the “Choose File” button and choose the “collection_books” file from your desktop, then click “Upload.”
  6. On the Import Options page, select the options you want and then click the “Import books” link at the bottom of the page.

To add your reviews:

  1. To add your reviews: once your titles have finished importing, return to the Import Books page and click “Choose File”; select the “review_books” file and click “Upload.”
  2. Under “Handle duplicates” at the bottom of the Import Options page, select the radio button for “Sync ISBN duplicates, importing user data,” and tick the “Replace Reviews with imported info.” Then click the “Import books” button and your reviews should import right into your LibraryThing catalog.

Come talk about it on Talk. And if you have any problems email

*Ratings: The Living Social ratings export option doesn’t seem to be working at the moment. If it starts working in the future, we can work through adding it too.

Labels: features, import

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Find your friends on LibraryThing

LibraryThing had a “friend finder” back before they were ubiquitous. But we’ve lacked one for a while. So we’ve just released a handy new Friend Finder for LibraryThing.

Friend Finder allows members to connect easily with their Facebook and Twitter contacts who also use LibraryThing, or invite their friends to join the site.

New members will see this as an (optional) step as they create an account, while current members can access the Friend Finder on the Edit profile and settings.

For people already on the site, Friend Finder gives you a one-step way to add them to your friends, interesting libraries, contacts and so forth. These work just like adding them from their profile page. For invites, we take a typically respectful approach: no invitations will be sent without your explicit consent and you have to send them one at a time—no spamming everyone you know. You can change the wording of the invitation before you send it. Twitter messages are posted @ your friend. Facebook messages are posted to your friend’s wall.

Come talk about it.

Labels: new feature, new features

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Goodbye John!

Goodbye John (Felius), LibraryThing’s long-time sysadmin.

John’s been great to us. He took on a system under severe scaling strain, going down all the time and held together with string, and he sized it up and made it reliable. He moved the whole system from Portland to Boston, and made it both safer and faster (example, example). After almost four years with LibraryThing, John is moving on to Engine Yard, a Ruby-on-Rails cloud-hosting provider. His work and his company—John was a lot of fun to chat with at night—will be sorely missed. John promises to hang around as a member. He’s been one since 2005—long before we hired him.

We finished hiring John’s successor. More news soon.

PS: John managed to time his exit to System Administrator Appreciation Day. Believe me, we appreciate ‘em.

Labels: sysadmin, systems adminitration

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Feature: Where did you get your books?

By popular demand, I’ve added a feature for members to keep track of where they got their books. “From where?” takes two answers, either venues from LibraryThing Local, including bookstores and libraries, or “free text.”

You can find the feature:

By default, members’ “From where?” data is public—unless their account itself is set to “private.” If you want to record the information but not share it, you can do so. The option is available on your account page and when you add a “From where?” location under “Privacy.”

Come talk about it here.

Labels: new feature, new features

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Legacy Libraries 2.0: lists, clouds, and more!

Thanks to some fantastic work by Chris Holland (conceptdawg) we’ve just launched a brand new homepage for the Legacy Libraries project, chock full of interesting features and data:

It includes the ability to search the contents of Legacy Libraries (LLs) as a whole or by selected subsets; you can also browse LLs by category (like Authors or Signers of the Declaration of Independence), and see a whole series of clouds about the libraries.

For each category of Legacy Library, like Authors, we’ve added new status markers (complete, in progress, proposed, unitemized), and you can sort each list by status, name, date, or library size.

We’ve also integrated data about the Legacy Libraries into a slightly modified version of Common Knowledge, so each library, regardless of completion status, now has an LLCK profile (here’s John Adams’) containing data about the person and their library (largely for cloud-creation purposes, among other things). Feel free to augment this data, but please do read the help page first, since there are some differences between this and the way other CK edits are done. Any questions, just let me know (, or jbd1 on LT).

This LLCK data allows us to do some really interesting things, like display proposed and unitemized libraries well for the first time (example) and also keep better track of project status. We also, at long last, have a way to highlight the many members of LT who’ve worked so hard on these projects over the (nearly) four years we’ve been cataloging Legacy Libraries (see the contributors cloud at the bottom of the page).

You’ll also notice some integration of these new features on profile and author pages, and Chris has whipped up a handy “Featured Legacy Libraries” module for your homepage (by default at the bottom of the right column).

For more on this, see the Talk thread, and as always, let me know if you have data on a library we should add or further information about any one already on our radar. Submissions of library data are always welcomed and appreciated!

Labels: common knowledge, legacies, legacy libraries

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Technical jobs: Work for LibraryThing

IMPORTANT UPDATE July 28, 2011: Jobs are still open. Programmers should also look at The LibraryThing Programming Quiz.

LibraryThing is hiring! We’re looking for smart, fast, diligent and creative people to work in Portland, Maine or remotely.

There are four “jobs” out there, which we expect to be filled by 2–3 people.

  • programmer. Work primarily on We have a lot planned. We need you to help us do it.
  • Library programmer. Work primarily on our library products, LibraryThing for Libraries and Library Anywhere. Both products are growing fast–already in over 400 library systems around the world. Library Anywhere is a technical marvel.
  • Designer-developer. Help spruce up LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries.
  • Systems administrator. We recently advertised for a Systems Administrator. We may keep that a separate position or distribute responsibilities between old and new technical staff.

Technical skills.

  • Necessary. LibraryThing is made with PHP, mostly in non-OO code. You should be a sure-footed, experienced and rapid PHP coder.
  • Core. JavaScript (with JQuery, Prototype), CSS, MySQL.
  • Bonus. Python, Solr, library systems and formats (OPACs, MARC, etc). A library degree is a definite plus—we have three MLSs on staff now. Publishing or bookstore experience is also a plus.
  • Design. The standard software and a keen eye.
  • Systems administration. If you think you could help out here, see the systems administrator job for more details.


  • We like to hire people who care about books and libraries, and believe in a open and humane vision of the future for both. We live to create technologies that make readers happy and keep libraries vital.
  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-pressure and high-energy environment. Programming is rapid, creative and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed and reliability, communication and responsibility.
  • Working remotely gives you freedom, but also requires discipline and internal motivation.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with members and/or libraries.
  • We develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • We do so much and with so many technologies, learning is a job requirement. Mentoring is somewhat limited by distance, so you need to be able to learn on your own.


LibraryThing is headquartered in Portland, Maine, but most employees are remote. We’d love to find someone local, but remote is fine. Unless you’re in Australia, we expect you to visit the office for group meetings from time to time.


Salary plus gold-plated health and dental insurance. We require hard work but are flexible about hours.


An excellent recent hire forced us to rethink our cheese-lovers-only requirement, and as much as Abby and I might want requirements to love wine or coffee are probably illegal. So this is the first LibraryThing job post without any food requirements. However, if you are partial to any of these, we can, um, guarantee you’ll get what you want at the LT office.

How to apply

Send an email and resume to Instead of a cover letter, go through the blog post in your email, responding to it, especially the skills and intangibles part.

Labels: employment, jobs

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

ReadaThing Planned for August 6-7

The good folks in the ReadaThing group have planned a 48-hour readathon for Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7*. You can join up here by signing up to read for an hour of your choice, and list what book(s) you’ll read on the participation wiki.

Or, if you’re up for a bigger challenge, Saturday August 6 (local time) is also the official 2011 “Do Nothing But Read” Day, for which you can sign up here. The organizers invite all to join in, so if your schedule allows and you’re in need of a nice long day of reading (and who among us isn’t!?), take the plunge!

* In keeping with the international spirit of LT, this ReadaThing is running from noon Saturday to noon Monday New Zealand time (8 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Sunday EDT). So depending on where you are, you could be reading anytime from 5-8 August!

Labels: DNBRD, Do Nothing but Read Day, reading