Thursday, January 7th, 2016

ALAMW 2016 in Boston (and Free Passes)!

Abby and KJ will be at ALA Midwinter in Boston this weekend, showing off LibraryThing for Libraries. Since the conference is so close to LibraryThing headquarters, chances are good that a few other LT staff members may appear, as well!

Visit Us. Stop by booth #1717 to meet Abby & KJ (and potential mystery guests!), get a demo, and learn about all the new and fun things we’re up to with LibraryThing for Libraries, TinyCat, and LibraryThing.

Get in Free. Are you in the Boston area and want to go to ALAMW? We have free exhibit only passes. Click here to sign up and get one! Note: It will get you just into the exhibit hall, not the conference sessions themselves.

Labels: Uncategorized

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

For ALA 2015: Three Free OPAC Enhancements


For a limited time, LibraryThing for Libraries (LTFL) is offering three of its signature enhancements for free!

There are no strings attached. We want people to see how LibraryThing for Libraries can improve your catalog.

  1. Check Library.

    The Check Library button is a “bookmarklet” that allows patrons to check if your library has a book while on Amazon and most other book websites. Unlike other options, LibraryThing knows all of the editions out there, so it finds the edition your library has. Learn more about Check Library

  2. Other Editions

    Let your users know everything you have. Don’t let users leave empty-handed when the record that came up is checked out. Other editions links all your holdings together in a FRBR model—paper, audiobook, ebook, even translations.

  3. Lexile Measures

    Put MetaMetrics’ The Lexile Framework® for Reading in your catalog, to help librarians and patrons find material based on reading level. In addition to showing the Lexile numbers, we also include an interactive browser.

Easy to Add

LTFL Enhancements are easy to install and can be added to every major ILS/OPAC system and most of the minor ones. Enrichments can be customized and styled to fit your catalog, and detailed usage reporting lets you know how they’re doing.

See us at ALA. Stop by booth 3634 at ALA Annual this weekend in San Francisco to talk to Tim and Abby and see how these enhancements work.

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

Sign up

We’re offering these three enhancements free, for at least two years. We’ll probably send you links showing you how awesome other enhancements would look in your catalog, but that’s it.

Find out more or email Abby Blachly at

Labels: alaac15, Lexile measures, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

ALA 2015 in San Francisco (Free Passes)

Kate at ALAMW15
Our booth. But this is Kate, not Tim or Abby. She had the baby.

Tim and I are headed to San Francisco this weekend for the ALA Annual Conference.

Visit Us. Stop by booth #3634 to talk to us, get a demo, and learn about all the new and fun things we’re up to with LibraryThing for Libraries!

Stay tuned this week for more announcements of what we’ll be showing off. No, really. It’s going to be awesome.

Get in Free. In the SF area and want to go to ALA? We have free exhibit only passes. Click here to sign up and get one. It will get you just into the exhibit hall, not the conference sessions themselves.

Labels: ala, alaac15

Monday, February 9th, 2015

New “More Like This” for LibraryThing for Libraries

We’ve just released “More Like This,” a major upgrade to LibraryThing for Libraries’ “Similar items” recommendations. The upgrade is free and automatic for all current subscribers to LibraryThing for Libraries Catalog Enhancement Package. It adds several new categories of recommendations, as well as new features.

We’ve got text about it below, but here’s a short (1:28) video:

What’s New

Similar items now has a See more link, which opens More Like This. Browse through different types of recommendations, including:

  • Similar items
  • More by author
  • Similar authors
  • By readers
  • Same series
  • By tags
  • By genre


You can also choose to show one or several of the new categories directly on the catalog page.

Click a book in the lightbox to learn more about it—a summary when available, and a link to go directly to that item in the catalog.


Rate the usefulness of each recommended item right in your catalog—hovering over a cover gives you buttons that let you mark whether it’s a good or bad recommendation.


Try it Out!

Click “See more” to open the More Like This browser in one of these libraries:

Find out more

Find more details for current customers on what’s changing and what customizations are available on our help pages.

For more information on LibraryThing for Libraries or if you’re interested in a free trial, email, visit, or register for a webinar.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, recommendations, similar books

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Subjects and the Ship of Theseus

I thought I might take a break to post an amusing photo of something I wrote out today:


The photo is a first draft of a database schema for a revamp of how LibraryThing will do library subjects. All told, it has 26 tables. Gulp.

About eight of the tables do what a good cataloging system would do:

  • Distinguishes the various subject systems (LCSH, Medical Subjects, etc.)
  • Preserves the semantic richness of subject cataloging, including the stuff that never makes it into library systems.
  • Breaks subjects into their facets (e.g., “Man-woman relationships — Fiction”) has two subject facets

Most of the tables, however, satisfy LibraryThing’s unusual core commitments: to let users do their own thing, like their own little library, but also to let them benefit from and participate in the data and contributions of others.(1) So it:

  • Links to subjects from various “levels,” including book-level, edition-level, ISBN-level and work-level.
  • Allows members to use their own data, or “inherit” subjects from other levels.
  • Allows for members to “play librarian,” improving good data and suppressing bad data.(2)
  • Allows for real-time, fully reversible aliasing of subjects and subject facets.

The last is perhaps the hardest. Nine years ago (!) I compared LibraryThing to the “Ship of Theseus,” a ship which is “preserved” although its components are continually changed. The same goes for much of its data, although “shifting sands” might be a better analogy. Accounting for this makes for some interesting database structures, and interesting programming. Not every system at LibraryThing does this perfectly. But I hope this structure will help us do that better for subjects.(3)

Weird as all this is, I think it’s the way things are going. At present most libraries maintain their own data, which, while generally copied from another library, is fundamentally siloed. Like an evolving species, library records descend from each other; they aren’t dynamically linked. The data inside the records are siloed as well, trapped in a non-relational model. The profession that invented metadata, and indeed invented sharing metadata, is, at least as far as its catalogs go, far behind.

Eventually that will end. It may end in a “Library Goodreads,” every library sharing the same data, with global changes possible, but reserved for special catalogers. But my bet is on a more LibraryThing-like future, where library systems will both respect local cataloging choices and, if they like, benefit instantly from improvements made elsewhere in the system.

When that future arrives, we got the schema!

1. I’m betting another ten tables are added before the system is complete.
2. The system doesn’t presume whether changes will be made unilaterally, or voted on. Voting, like much else, existings in a separate system, even if it ends up looking like part of the subject system.
3. This is a long-term project. Our first steps are much more modest–the tables have an order-of-use, not shown. First off we’re going to duplicate the current system, but with appropriate character sets and segmentation by thesaurus and language.

Labels: cataloging, subjects

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

LibraryThing Recommends in BiblioCommons


Does your library use BiblioCommons as its catalog? LibraryThing and BiblioCommons now work together to give you high-quality reading recommendations in your BiblioCommons catalog.

You can see some examples here. Look for “LibraryThing Recommends” on the right side.

Quick facts:

  • As with all LibraryThing for Libraries products, LibraryThing Recommends only recommends other books within a library’s catalog.
  • LibraryThing Recommends stretches across media, providing recommendations not just for print titles, but also for ebooks, audiobooks, and other media.
  • LibraryThing Recommends shows up to two titles up front, with up to three displayed under “Show more.”
  • Recommendations come from LibraryThing’s recommendations system, which draws on hundreds of millions of data points in readership patterns, tags, series, popularity, and other data.

Not using BiblioCommons? Well, you can get LibraryThing recommendations—and much more—integrated in almost every catalog (OPAC and ILS) on earth, with all the same basic functionality, like recommending only books in your catalog, as well as other LibraryThing for Libraries feaures, like reviews, series and tags.

Check out some examples on different systems here.


BiblioCommons: email or visit See the full specifics here.
Other Systems: email or visit

Labels: Uncategorized

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

NEW: Annotations for Book Display Widgets

Our Book Display Widgets is getting adopted by more and more libraries, and we’re busy making it better and better. Last week we introduced Easy Share. This week we’re rolling out another improvement—Annotations!

Book Display Widgets is the ultimate tool for libraries to create automatic or hand-picked virtual book displays for their home page, blog, Facebook or elsewhere. Annotations allows libraries to add explanations for their picks.

Station Eleven

Some Ways to Use Annotations

1. Explain Staff Picks right on your homepage.
Column McCann
2. Let students know if a book is reserved for a particular class.
3. Add context for special collections displays.
Blueberries for Sal

How it Works

Check out the LibraryThing for Libraries Wiki for instructions on how to add Annotations to your Book Display Widgets. It’s pretty easy.


Watch a quick screencast explaining Book Display Widgets and how you can use them.

Find out more about LibraryThing for Libraries and Book Display Widgets. And sign up for a free trial of either by contacting

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, new feature, new features, widgets

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Send us a programmer, win $1,000 in books.

We just posted a new job post Job: Library Developer at LibraryThing (Telecommute).

To sweeten the deal, we are offering $1,000 worth of books to the person who finds them. That’s a lot of books.

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to the local, chain or online bookseller of your choice.

To qualify, you need to connect us to someone. Either you introduce them to us—and they follow up by applying themselves—or they mention your name in their email (“So-and-so told me about this”). You can recommend yourself, but if you found out about it from someone else, we hope you’ll do the right thing and make them the beneficiary.

Small print: Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible and completely dictatorial. It only applies when an employee is hired full-time, not part-time, contract or for a trial period. If we don’t hire someone for the job, we don’t pay. The contact must happen in the next month. If we’ve already been in touch with the candidate, it doesn’t count. Void where prohibited. You pay taxes, and the insidious hidden tax of shelving. Employees and their families are eligible to win, provided they aren’t work contacts. Tim is not.

» Job: Library Developer at LibraryThing (Telecommute)

Labels: jobs

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Job: Library Developer at LibraryThing (Telecommute)

Code! Code! Code!

LibraryThing, the company behind and LibraryThing for Libraries, is looking to hire a top-notch developer/programmer.

We like to think we make “products that don’t suck,” as opposed to much of what’s developed for libraries. We’ve got new ideas and not enough developers to make them. That’s where you come in.

The Best Person

  • Work for us in Maine, or telecommute in your pajamas. We want the best person available.
  • If you’re junior, this is a “junior” position. If you’re senior, a “senior” one. Salary is based on your skills and experience.

Technical Skills

  • LibraryThing is mostly non-OO PHP. You need to be a solid PHP programmer or show us you can become one quickly.
  • You should be experienced in HTML, JavaScript, CSS and SQL.
  • We welcome experience with design and UX, Python, Solr, and mobile development.

The highly-photogenic LibraryThing staff only use stock photos ironically.

What We Value

  • Execution is paramount. You must be a sure-footed and rapid coder, capable of taking on jobs and finishing them with attention and expedition.
  • Creativity, diligence, optimism, and outspokenness are important.
  • Experience with library data and systems is favored.
  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-pressure and high-energy environment. This puts a premium on speed and reliability, communication and responsibility.
  • Working remotely gives you freedom, but also requires discipline and internal motivation.


  • Gold-plated health insurance.
  • Cheese.

How To Apply

  • We have a simple quiz, developed back in 2011. If you can do it in under five minutes, you should apply for the job! If not, well, wasn’t that fun anyway?
  • To apply, send a resume. Skip the cover letter, and go through the blog post in your email, responding to the tangibles and intangibles bullet-by-bullet.
  • Also include your solution to the quiz, and how long it took you. Anything under five minutes is fine. If it takes you longer than five minutes, we won’t know. But the interview will involve lots of live coding.
  • Feel free to send questions to, or Skype chat Tim at LibraryThingTim.
  • Please put “Library developer” somewhere in your email subject line.

Labels: jobs

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

NEW: Easy Share for Book Display Widgets

LibraryThing for Libraries is pleased to announce an update to our popular Book Display Widgets.

Introducing “Easy Share.” Easy Share is a tool for putting beautiful book displays on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, email newsletters and elsewhere. It works by turning our dynamic, moving widgets into shareable images, optimized for the service you’re going to use them on.

Why would I want an image of a widget?

Dynamic widgets require JavaScript. This works great on sites you control, like a library’s blog or home page. But many sites, including some of the most important ones, don’t allow JavaScript. Easy Share bridges that gap, allowing you to post your widgets wherever a photo or other image can go—everywhere from Facebook to your email newsletters.

How do I find Easy Share?

To use Easy Share, move your cursor over a Book Display Widget. A camera icon will appear in the lower right corner of the widget. Click on that to open up the Easy Share box.

How can I share my widgets?

You can share your widget in three ways:

  1. Download. Download an image of your widget. After selecting a size, click the “down” arrow to download the image. Each image is labeled with the name of your widget, so you can find it easily on your computer. Upload this image to Facebook or wherever else you want it to go.
  2. Link. Get a link (URL) to the image. Select the size you want, then click the link icon to get a link to copy into whatever social media site you want.
  3. Dynamic. “Dynamic” images change over time, so you can place a “static” image somewhere and have it change as your collection changes. To get a dynamic image, go to the edit page for a widget. Use the link there to embed this image into your website or blog. Dynamic widgets update whenever your widget updates. Depending on users’ browser “caching” settings, changes may or may not happen immediately. But it will change over time.

You can also download or grab a link to a image of your widget from the widget edit page. Under the preview section, click “Take Screenshot.” You can see our blog post about that feature here.

Check out the LibraryThing for Libraries Wiki for more instructions.


Find out more about LibraryThing for Libraries and Book Display Widgets. And sign up for a free trial of either by contacting

Labels: Book Display Widgets, new feature, new features, widgets