Archive for the ‘ltfl’ Category

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

LTFL Reviews now works with iBistro and Voyager catalogs

When we decided to add Reviews as an enhancement to LibraryThing for Libraries, we wanted to work on just a few OPACs at a time.

Otherwise, it would be 2010 before we finished Reviews (and no one wanted that). We started with Horizon Information Portal and WebPac, for a number of reasons*. Next, we decided to get iBistro and Voyager† on board.

We’ve had a couple of iBistro libraries add the Reviews Enhancement, but no Voyager libraries are live yet. You can check out the full list here.

* We knew the systems well, many libraries use them, and who doesn’t like saying HIP?
† I can’t talk about that particular OPAC without pronouncing it ‘vee-ger’ in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

Labels: book reviews, enhancement, ExLibris, iBistro, librarything for libraries, ltfl, sirsidynix, Voyager

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Randolph County Public Library wins award for using LTFL

Congratulations are in order for the very hip (pun intended for you OPAC geeks) Randolph County Public Library for receiving the Outstanding Library Service Innovation Award from the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (NCPLDA) for their implementation of LibraryThing for Libraries.

They also won the Outstanding Library Promotional Project Award for their electronic newsletter and email alert service.

Well done, Randolph County Public Library!

Coverage in the Randolph Guide newspaper.

Labels: awards, librarything for libraries, ltfl, ltfl libraries, North Carolina, randolph county public library

Friday, June 27th, 2008

LibraryThing at ALA—with reviews in your catalog!

I’ve only brought one rhino this time—two rhinos cut down on the standing room—but the rhino and I will be at ALA 2008 in Anaheim (booth 2878), showing off LibraryThing for Libraries.

I’ll be showing off our new reviews feature, which allow any library to add patron-reviewing to their OPAC, with review sharing between libraries and a base of 200,000 librarian-approved reviews from LibraryThing.

I think it’s going to be a big deal. With luck, I’ll get a screencast about it out before morning…

Labels: ala2008, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The Nifty Fifty

big bucket of fifty chicken nuggetsWe’ve just hit our first major milestone: there are now 50 libraries using LibraryThing for Libraries. See the full list here. For a visual representation of what may be the opposite of LibraryThing for Libraries, but of the same number, look to the right.

We’re also pleased that number 50 is Portland Public Library, in LibraryThing’s hometown. We attended the implementation, and we’re happy to say that their bouncing baby catalog enhancements are doing just fine.

These first 50 libraries include early innovators like Seattle Public Library and San Francisco State University. It was satisfying to hear prospective libraries say they watch these innovators for emerging technology to look into, and that’s how they found out about us. Three cheers for word of blog.

We’re convinced that LTFL is a highly enriching supplement to the white bread that is the standard online catalog and we’re happy that we can create something that meshes with OPACs to make them more functional.

So what’s next? We’re getting the reviewing enhancement ready to show. If anyone wants to come check it out, we’ll be showing them off at the ALA annual conference. In the meantime, you can pat our backs at Book Expo America.

Thanks to deovolenti for the image.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, ltfl libraries, Portland Public Library, San Francisco State University, Seattle Public Library, web 2.0

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

LibraryThing for Libraries adds statistics

LibraryThing for Libraries now has stats! Libraries in the program can see just where LibraryThing for Libraries is working for them, and where it’s not. You can evaluate changes, and justify it to your bosses.

To see your statistics, go to the Stats tab. Statistics include:
  • Real-world coverage numbers and percentages for each enhancement
  • Recommendation and similar books link-usage
  • Tag popup and search usage
The tab itself is basic, but we included a link to download your statistics in CSV/Excel format. Pie charts? Go crazy.
Of course, statistics are a two-edged sword for us. Although overall rates are good, some libraries aren’t getting the best results. In general, if you’re hiding your enhancements behind a tab, you can expect much lower rates.

We certainly suspect that LibraryThing enhancements are getting a lot more play than some other browse links—like LCSH subjects—or those of our competitors’, who put their enhancements on external pages. Indeed, we’re wondering if libraries would like to use LTFL’s stats structure to track other links too?

LibraryThing for Libraries Email List. We’ve set up a Google Group for LibraryThing for Libraries customers. We hope member libraries will join up. We’ve sent out invites to all the primary contacts.

Sign up to have your voice heard. We will be talking about the future of LTFL and where it should go.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, new feature, stats

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Job: LibraryThing for Libraries

LibraryThing is looking for someone to take over the non-coding parts of LibraryThing for Libraries, our innovative plan to bring Library 2.0 gold to OPAC 1.0 slag.

The position is part basic tech and part “sales.” If you come from tech you have to prove you’re personable. If you come from sales you have to prove you’re very sorry about it.


  • Smart. We value brains over experience.
  • Personable. We’re a bunch of trogledytes. Outshine us.
  • Hard-working. LibraryThing is a startup, so hard work is expected. And you have to want that. This is the job you think about in the shower.
  • Organized. We have a few hundred libraries interested in LibraryThing for Libraries already. You’ve got to be able to keep them straight and not get behind on emails.
  • Techy. This isn’t an engineer position, but you need to be comfortable with this world. HTML and CSS strongly preferred. Experience with one or more OPAC/ILS systems preferred.
  • Fast learner. Don’t know anything about XML? Spend today with this book.
  • Library-ish. We’re 3-4 library people now (with 2 MLSs). Even us out.

Location: Portland, ME or Boston, MA preferred, but we’ll entertain all possibilites. Relocation not necessary, but might help.

Money: Salary, commissions, excellent plated health insurance. LibraryThing for Libraries is growing very rapidly. It’s got the potential to change the world. You could be at the center of that. And you get paid?

Contact: Tim Spalding (

Labels: employment, jobs, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Crazy ideas for LibraryThing for Libraries

One big question around LibraryThing these days is “Where do we take LibraryThing for Libraries?” There is an obvious answer–direct user participation. Right now, LibraryThing for Libraries provides services that “arise from” user generated data without bringing that sort of interaction to the OPAC. So we provide tag-based searching based on LibraryThing’s almost 30 million tags, but patrons can’t tag books in their catalog. Nor can patrons assemble book lists, write reviews and so forth.

We’re clearly going this direction. We’re not sure that patron tagging is a big deal, but there are things to do here. And that’s all I’ll say about that!

But what else can we do? We have interesting data, an interesting technology, Casey Durfee, and the will to act on small, interesting ideas quickly. Direct us!

So here are four ideas I’ve been having. I wonder what the people—and particularly the 37 LTFL libraries—think of them:

Idea 1: Widgets. We could give libraries an easy way to let their patrons create library widgets for their blogs and Facebook pages. These would be little “what I’m reading” widgets–covers and titles–not unlike the popular LibraryThing widgets–but they would integrated with the library catalog. Clicking on a book would take you to the catalog, of course. The library could also add a “Add to my widget” buttons to their catalog pages.

I think widgets are a great missed opportunity for libraries. Although RSS is supposedly “Web 2.0,” there’s something backwards about libraryland’s embrace of this static, pushy technology. Although the vendors have all rushed to implement it, not that many people really want to turn an OPAC search into an RSS feed and insert a catalog search into their otherwise human and enjoyable feed reader. (And feed readers are still a cool fringe activity–a step above drinking absinth.) But people love to show off and tell their friends what they’re doing. As the saying goes, patrons don’t want “your” content, their want “their” content. Widgets would be perfect there, and the data and hooks LTFL has puts us in an excellent position to do this.

Idea 2: Super-simple catalog API. We could provide an extremely simple API to individual LTFL library catalogs–just checking whether a library has a book, and maybe returning the ISBN, title, author, the direct URL and maybe related editions in the library. That’s basically all we know, but it’s 95% of what API developers want and 900-times easier than trying to figure out Z39.50 and MARC.

I’m not sure libraries would do anything with this, but I think some patrons would. Lightweight, fast APIs are red meat to mashups. Also, it’s only a day or two of coding. I like projects like that.

Idea 3: Library Bookmarklets. Along similar lines, we could provide bookmarklets and Greasemonkey scripts that would help patrons link their library in with the rest of their online book experience. So, for example, a patron is on an Amazon page thinking about buying a book. They click their library bookmarklet and up pops a little box that says their library has the book, and links to the page.

Idea 4: Put libraries in LibraryThing itself. Right now, LibraryThing tells you if a book is available in a small number of independent bookstores and seven or eight swap sites. But it doesn’t tell you if a library has it. For most libraries, we can’t know. But we do know for LTFL libraries.

Five ideas is enough for now, I think.

As mentioned before, Abby and I are at ALA, boothless and fancy free.
Tim’s cell: 207 272-0553

PS: I left on—multiple tag searching and library tag clouds. We don’t need your feedback on those; we already think they’re good ideas.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

LTFL at 33 34 36 / Abby and Tim at ALA

Casey has just updated our list of LibraryThing for Libraries customers. We’ve hit 33 libraries, which is wonderful. (See the full list.) With no sales force and only half a developer, that’s fantastic. LTFL is clearly starting to matter in the library world. We will be adding resources to it accordingly, and look forward to finding out more about what current and potential libraries want from it.

Not coincidentally, Abby and I are going to ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia. We didn’t buy a booth; they’ve expensive and tie you down a lot. Instead, we’ll be going to as many talks as we can, meeting with people and describing cheesesteaks as a “business expense.” If you’re at ALA and want to chat in passing or over a beer, let us know.

Contact details:
cell: 207 272-0553 (note area code 207, not 208, as first posted!)

UPDATE: Thirty-FOUR. As Casey whooped: “I totally outsold Jesus” (source). Then Casey dropped dead.
UPDATE 2: Thirty six. Holy smokes.

Labels: ala, ALA midwinter, librarything for libraries, ltfl, ltfl libraries

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

LibraryThing for Libraries: October

October was another good month for LibraryThing for Libraries, with 7 new libraries coming on board.

First up on the list is the Los Gatos Public Library in California. Although a very small library, they show yet again that you don’t need to be big to innovate. They’ve promoted LibraryThing for Libraries extensively on their blog; they’ve even made a cool little video on YouTube of the widgets in action.

Library number two is the East Brunswick Public Library in New Jersey. Much more than most libraries, EBPL has really positioned themselves as a part of their community. You can see this in their offering of notary and passport renewal services at their libraries and their involvement with the community TV station, EBTV. I like seeing libraries that try to integrate themselves into their patrons’ daily lives like that. For an LTFL action shot, here’s “Treasure Island” in their catalog.

Next up is the Institute of Technology Tallaght, Dublin, our second library in Ireland. Along with our first one, the Waterford Institute of Technology, they’re a part of our nefarious plan to get every Irish engineering major hooked on LibraryThing.

Number four is the Kingston Information and Library Service in Melbourne, Australia. They have the honor of being our first Australian library, but we’ve got a bunch more on the way, starting with number five, the Australian Tax Office. The ATO’s running LibraryThing for Libraries on their intranet only, so I don’t have a demo URL for them. I’d like to thank them for coming up with a righteous javascript hack to make our widgets work with SirsiDynix’s new EPS/Rooms system.

Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois is next up. I’ve already had a couple of other prospective customers ask to have their installation “look like Arlington Heights.” You can see why — they’ve done a great job blending LibraryThing for Libraries into their III catalog.

Finally, GMILCS is a consortium of academic and public libraries in New Hampshire. GMILCS runs SirsiDynix’s Horizon Information Portal catalog. It’s been cool to work with so many of the same people I knew when I used to support Horizon Information Portal for Dynix. Tim will be giving a talk about LibraryThing for Libraries at the CODI, the annual SirsiDynix user conference tomorrow along with Colleen Medling of the Salt Lake County Public Library. It should be a good one, so if you’re at CODI, check it out.

Along with picking up pencils, spatulas, and other stuff with vendor names on them, and talking to a lot of people in denim shirts, annual user conferences are always a good place to learn about new ways to make the software you’re stuck with do new things. That’s really valuable when change happens so slowly in the library software world; I remember helping GMILCS out when they first brought up their current catalog back in 2002. 5 years is a lifetime on the internet, and the gap between the speed that enterprise library software moves and the speed the web moves only seems to be getting bigger and bigger. So it’s vital for software vendors to make catalogs that can be modified, extended and customized both internally and externally. Customers shouldn’t have to wait for years for the shiny next generation product to get new features. It’s not just up to the vendors, though; customers need to keep finding ways to improve their out of the box systems (like David Pattern’s interesting new HIPPie project), library managers need to create a culture where change is embraced, and services like LibraryThing for Libraries need to keep adding more new functionality to existing systems. Legacy library software is inescapable — major upgrades will always be a gigantic chore, and even minor changes to the core of the system will often have huge repercussions on dozens of staff and thousands of patrons. That should not keep libraries from constantly making improvements to their public interfaces.

Labels: ahml, arlington heights, ato, australian tax office, codi, east brunswick, ebpl, gmilcs, iii, itt tallaght, kils, kingston, librarything for libraries, los gatos, ltfl, sirsidynix, slco