Archive for October, 2008

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

OCLC deletes personal cataloging?

Something’s going on over at OCLC. And it looks very worrisome.

LibraryThing members who care about library data should gird their loins. Ditto those who support the Open Library project, and other efforts to free library data.

Note: Sorry I can’t give more details yet. I will when I can. So far it’s a mix of messages on AUTOCAT and phone calls I can’t disclose. Also, I’m figuring someone in the library world who has more access to OCLC communication will post about it soon. So far, no posts.

Updates: Will post ‘em here:

Labels: Uncategorized

Friday, October 24th, 2008

New: Recent library reviews widget

Following on the release of LibraryThing for Libraries’ new Reviews Enhancement, I’ve created a widget for libraries to show off their most recent reviews.

These are the three libraries that are live so far.

Recent reviews from High Plains Library District

Recent reviews from Los Gatos Public Library

Recent reviews from Mount Laurel Library

Update: Our Mount Laurel is having some trouble with book titles. We’ll fix it soon.

Labels: book reviews, librarything for libraries, widgets

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Rhinotossing

Internet Librarian ended up worth it. There weren’t that many people, but our booth was mobbed even so. Some came for the free LibraryThing t-shirts (being secretly given out, but word got out), free CueCats barcode scanners or the free laptop stickers. Most came to see LibraryThing for Libraries and our new reviews feature. To my great surprise, people got the Facebook application.

But what do you do when the conference is winding down for the day, and no customers are around. First, you run around with a rhino, attacking other exhibitors. Then you settle down to a nice game of rhino-catch!

Many apologies to the esteemed Christa Burns, whose presentation was affected by rhinos–mostly wondering what the heck was going on.

Next party or conference, we’re going to organize a formal game of rhino sports. I think it’d be particularly fun to half-fill the rhino with water—a full rhino would be immovable—and see whom it burst upon.

Labels: fun, il2008, internet librarians, rhinos

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Internet Librarian—help!

This blog rarely hosts up-to-the-minute reportage, but here it is: Internet Librarian is a bust!

Most everyone we see loves LibraryThing for Libraries and our new reviews feature (announced today)—but nobody’s here! There are only two rows for exhibitors, and attendees aren’t walking them. According to an unnamed source—unnamed because I don’t know his name—attendance is way down this year.

So, if you’re here, come by! We’d love to show you the remarkable new system we’ve built. And we’ve got laptop stickers, t-shirts and cuecats to give out. And we’ve got nothing to do tonight either. Last night Sonya and I had a business meeting at a Denny’s.

Don’t make us do that again!
Update: Things looked up for about 30 minutes.

Labels: il2008, internet librarians, librarything for libraries

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Introducing Reviews for LibraryThing for Libraries!

We’ve just released a new feature for LibraryThing for Libraries: Reviews. We’ve been working on this for months, and are itching to show it to you. (If you’re at Internet Librarian in Monterey, come by the booth for a full demonstration.)

The idea is simple:

  • Your library patrons get to review anything in your library.
  • Libraries share reviews, so a critical mass can build.
  • Implementation is absurdly simple—one short piece of JavaScript added to the catalog template. Period.

The “extras” send it into orbit:

  • It comes with 200,000 high-quality, vetted reviews from LibraryThing.
  • Your patrons get blog widgets and a Facebook application to show off their reviews—and their love for their library. Don’t get why this is great? Keep reading.

Check it out. Three libraries are currently showing reviews, together with the other LibraryThing for Libraries enhancements–similar books, tags and other editions and translations. Click on the reviews wording (see above) to launch the reviews “lightbox.”

Reviews in your catalog. The reviews wording shows up on all detail pages–not just books. You can also elect to show reviews on “search” or “list” pages. (Neither Los Gatos or High Plains have done this.)

LibraryThing for Libraries is not an “external” service. Everything happens in the catalog, not on some external site. “Reviews” works the same way. Like the rest of LTFL, it loads after the rest of the page, so it doesn’t slow it down.

Lightbox magic. Other reviews solutions have either put showing and editing reviews in an external window–kludgy and likely to trigger pop-up alerts–or shoe-horned reviews into the catalog page, mucking it up and subjecting reviews to space and style constraints.

We decided to do something different, putting reviews in a “lightbox,” like our Tag browser. This combines the best of both solutions–in-place action and a rock-solid, stylish look. Reviews are in the catalog, but they aren’t imprisoned by it.

Two-hundred thousand LibraryThing reviews. We think LibraryThing for Libraries reviews, especially with our widgets and Facebook app., are going to push patron reviewing to a new level. But the fact remains that no library project has yet managed to get patrons reviewing on the scale of an Amazon or a LibraryThing. And nothing kills people’s incentive to review than a desert–like restaurants, emptiness begets emptiness and success success.

So we’re kicking in over 200,000 LibraryThing reviews–gently vetted by LibraryThing staff.

These 200,000 reviews put LibraryThing miles ahead of our only “reviews” competitor, Chilifresh. They doesn’t release totals, but their numbers are low. Here for example are Chilifresh vs. LibraryThing for Libraries numbers for the last eight Pulitzer winners:

Pulitzer Prize winners Chilifresh LibraryThing
2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz 1 review 24 reviews
2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy 8 reviews 199 reviews
2006 March by Geraldine Brooks 1 review 50 reviews
2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 0 reviews 45 reviews
2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones 1 review 40 reviews
2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 1 review 120 reviews
2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo 1 review 32 reviews
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon 1 review 69 reviews
2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 0 review 27 reviews

When push comes to shove, you don’t need 199 reviews. But Putlizer winners are popular books. When a popular book has 199 reviews, less popular books will have five or ten. Conversely, if Gilead and Interpreter of Maladies can’t get a review, the rare stuff definitely won’t have it.

Want to blog that table? (I wish you would. It took me forever to make.) Here’s the HTML.

My reviews at Los Gatos Public Library

Blog widgets and Facebook application. I do a lot of talking about “User Generated Content” (a horrible, dehumanizing phrase). Again and again I hit one point that–I think–Library 2.0 too often misses: User Generated Content isn’t about “getting something”–it’s about giving something.

People don’t review books to help a library, or even their community. They do it to get something back–a record of what they read and an opportunity to express themselves–and express themselves to the people they know.

This means two things. First, unlike some other systems, we made sure every member had a page–and one with a permanent link, so they could send it to friends. And second, it meant that we make sure patrons could showcase their reviews outside of their library catalog, where they “live” on the web. Both options are available from review members’ “settings” page.

Check out LibraryThing for Libraries’ “Reviews at My Library” on Facebook in the screen-shot. (The application is here, but you need to have a Facebook membership to get to it.) Here’s the blog widget in action:

More soon. I’ve got to run to our booth at Internet Librarian, but I’ll blog more soon. LibraryThing members will want to know how the two systems connect.*

*Members can opt-out of their reviews being seen in libraries–just edit your profile, although, because of caching, changes are not immediate.

Labels: book reviews, internet librarians, librarything for libraries, new features

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

LibraryThing at Internet Librarian / Reviews at My Library

We’ll be at Internet Librarian in Monterey, CA, Monday-Wednesday. We’re at booth 316, in the boonies, I think.

We’ll be showing off LibraryThing for Libraries and our new “Reviews at my Library.”

We’re going to blog “Reviews at My Library” on Monday or Tuesday, but you can take a sneak peak at reviews in action at High Plains Library District or Los Gatos Public Library.

Labels: il2008, librarything for libraries