Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Show off your reviews in Facebook

Our new LTFL Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature lets you display recent reviews that have been written in your catalog right in Facebook—where your patrons are. This is a free update to any library that subscribes to our Reviews Enhancement. Make the most out of the reviews your patrons are writing and proudly show them off!

You can set it to show all recent reviews, or filter by category—show just the “staff picks” or “back to school” category you might have set up.

LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement is a great addition to your library catalog—letting patrons rate and review right within your OPAC. You can also share reviews with hundreds of other libraries that use the service, as well as draw from over a million hand-vetted user reviews written by LibraryThing.com members.

The Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature dovetails nicely with the last feature we added: social media integration—allowing patrons to sign in with and post their reviews to Facebook and Twitter.

More: Reviews Blog Widget

a reviews blog widget

While we’re on the subject of showing off reviews, the Reviews Enhancement also comes with a reviews blog widget, which lets you display new reviews anywhere (not just on Facebook!). Try adding a widget to your library’s homepage or blog to highlight the activity in your catalog. See for example the homepage of the Cass District Library, the blog of City of Hayward Public Library, or how the City of Port Phillip Library shows off “recent reviews from our catalogue.” Like the Facebook Pagetab, this feature also comes free with a subscription to the Reviews Enhancement!

Instructions on creating reviews widgets are here.

How to get Reviews in Facebook

If your library currently subscribes to the Reviews Enhancement, it’s quite easy to bring reviews into Facebook. Instructions to get started are here.

If you don’t yet subscribe to Reviews, just let me know if you’d be interested in a free trial! (email abby@librarything.com).

Labels: book reviews, facebook, librarything for libraries, ltfl, LTFL Reviews, new features, reviews, social media, social networking

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Book Display Widgets in Facebook

This new feature allows you to use our fantastic and versatile Book Display Widgets within Facebook. Add a Book Display Widget tab to your library’s Facebook page to easily show off new books, staff picks, featured collections, and more.

Check it out. Give it a try on our fake library Facebook page, here. If this were connected to a real library, clicking on a book would open to that item’s bib page in the catalog.

Set it up. If you already subscribe to Book Display Widgets, this is a free addition! Just read here for how to set up widgets on your library’s Facebook page. On that same page you’ll see a link to a screencast to help you get set up.

Learn more. Interested in Book Display Widgets for your library? Email me (abby@librarything.com) with any questions about this or any of the LibraryThing for Libraries products. To subscribe, contact Peder Christensen at Bowker—toll-free at 877-340-2400 or email Peder.Christensen@bowker.com.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Reviews Enhancement with Social Media Integration

We are very pleased to announce an upgrade to our LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement—social media integration.

The Reviews Enhancement lets your patrons rate and review items directly within your catalog. But it also comes loaded with reviews to start! You can share reviews with over 200 libraries who also use the service and draw from over 950,000 hand-vetted user reviews written by LibraryThing.com members. But we’re constantly improving, and we’ve just released the following new features!

Social media integration

  • Sign in with Facebook or Twitter. Your patrons can now login to write reviews in your catalog using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or they can continue to use the “reviews account” as usual. They will also be able to link an existing reviews account to their Twitter or Facebook login, for easy access in the future. (Simply log into an existing reviews account, click to account settings, and then connect.)
  • Post reviews to Facebook and Twitter. Once a patron’s reviews account is linked, they also have the ability to tweet the review they just wrote in your catalog, and to post it to Facebook. This is great for everyone. The patron gets to show their friends what they’re reading at the library they love—and your library gets fantastic visibility!

The links from Facebook and Twitter drive people back into your catalog, to discover even more of your collection.

Rating without reviewing

Just to sweeten the pot, we’ve added one more feature in here: the ability to rate a book with stars without having to write a review. Some people prefer to just rate, and we’ve made that possible.

How to get it

If your library currently subscribes to the Reviews Enhancement, and you want to make sure your patrons can take advantage of these improvements, you have to do… nothing, unless you want to turn social media integration off! If you’d like to disable this, just log into your LibraryThing for Libraries admin account, and go to the Configuration > Reviews page. At the bottom, you’ll see an option to disable social media integration. Toggle that, and the ability to sign in with and post to Twitter and Facebook will disappear from your catalog.

Learn more. If you’d like to subscribe to Review Enhancements, get a free trial, or just learn more: Email me (abby@librarything.com). To subscribe, contact Peder Christensen at Bowker—toll-free at 877-340-2400 or email Peder.Christensen@bowker.com.

Come see us at CIL. Tim and I (Abby) are at the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington DC this week—stop by the exhibit hall to see us!

Labels: facebook, librarything for libraries, ltfl, reviews, social media, twitter

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Improvements to Book Display Widgets

We’ve had a fantastic response to our newest LibraryThing for Libraries product, Book Display Widgets. Book Display Widgets were envisioned as a way for libraries to create virtual book displays—to show off specific collections and to highlight particular titles.  Importantly, we also wanted Book Display Widgets to be easy for libraries to create and to update.

And we want to make it even better! We’ve just implemented several new features:


(Note: This is a sample widget. If you were using this in a real library, then each book would link to the book record in the catalog when clicked.)

Our new multi-widget format saves on space by giving you the ability to showcase multiple widgets in one area. Just click header titles to switch between widgets.

Our example above is an assorted collection of types of widgets, but the possibilities are endless. You can imagine this being useful for showing a collection of widgets with new books, new DVDs, new children’s books, etc. Or a multi-widget that displays several different widgets full of staff picks. Or one that shows off all the different nominees for various book awards being chosen this month. Book Display Widgets provide the structure for anything you can think up!

Vertical display

This new vertical display option is great for use on pages with side columns that you want to populate—like on LibGuides, for example.

Two display types now offer the vertical option—carousel and scrolling. We’ve also added in a shelf or no-shelf option for the carousel display (previously it was only available with a shelf background).

Learn more

We’ve made a short (less than a minute, I promise) video, showing how truly easy it is to create a widget.

See our Showcase page for sample widgets in each display style, and to get inspiration.

What do you think? Let us know if you have any other suggestions (email abby@librarything.com), we’re always open to adding and improving!

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

New “Check Library” button for LTFL libraries

We’ve just introduced an exciting new LibraryThing for Libraries product, called the “Check Library” button.

In brief, the “Check Library” button is a “bookmarklet” that libraries can give to their patrons. It allows patrons to check if your library has a book while on another website, like Amazon.com or anywhere.

We think it’s nifty and useful—a great way to boost circulation and patron happiness. We really want it out there, however, so every current LibraryThing for Libraries customer gets it for free!

60-Second Video

Here’s a 60-second video about it. It’s really all you need. The video is general, but we use the High Plains Library District’s button as an example.

Other examples:

Not Using LTFL?

The “Check Library” bookmarklet comes with LibraryThing for Libraries. If you don’t use LibraryThing for Libraries but want your own “Check Library” feature, email abby@librarything.com. We’d love to give it to you, and won’t charge an arm and a leg.

Details for the Detail-Oriented

What is it? The button is a “bookmarklet,” a little button people can drag to their “bookmarks” bar.

Once you have it, you can use it anytime you’re on a page about books—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and more. The bookmarklet pops up a little mini-window on the page. This tells you if your library has the book, and links directly to all the editions your library has.

Behind the scenes it’s finding the ISBNs on the page, checking them against LibraryThing’s huge editions database, checking those against your holdings, and returning a list of those holdings with links. Although geared to books, it will work with anything that has an ISBN. It works even if LibraryThing has never seen the ISBN, so long as there’s an exact match in your holdings.

How to Get It. Every LTFL library gets its own bookmarklet that’s set up just for it. To get your library’s, LTFL customers should log in and go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/configure-bookmarklet.php and click “Your bookmarklet page.” That will take you to the “get it” page for patrons.

Once you have your page, promote it to your patrons. For example, so far, Port Phillips has put it on their home page and Burdekin Library have it on their Facebook page.

Customize It. Like other enhancements, the bookmarklet is highly customizeable. Go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/configure-bookmarklet.php

Update Your Holdings. Because the bookmarklet, like most LTFL enhancements, works off your holdings, it’s imperative you keep your holdings up to date. (If it doesn’t find something it suggests the user perform a catalog search, but how many users will do that?) You can upload holdings and review your recent uploads here.

If You Don’t Want It. If you don’t want the bookmarklet, do nothing. The page you get it from has an unguessable URL. If you want to make sure it’s turned off, go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/settings.php.

Let Us Know. As a new feature, we’re eager to get your feedback. And if you post about it on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, we’d love to know.

Labels: Uncategorized

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

BookPsychic gets better

Since the release of BookPsychic, LibraryThing’s first-of-its-kind recommendation service for library patrons, we’ve received a lot of feedback, and implemented four major changes.

Authors you’ve read. Some reviewers found BookPsychic recommended too many books by authors they had already read. Others thanked us for a useful way to discover backlist titles by authors they loved. The issue is basic. While BookPsychic, like LibraryThing, tends to “recommend down”—from more popular to more obscure books by an author—it certainly does recommend books by authors you rate.

Instead of establishing a new rule, like “no recommendations for authors you rate,” we decided to treat this as a display issue. Same-author recommendations should be there, but they should be clearly separated somehow.

To implement this we came up with a recommendation section for “Recommendations by authors you have rated” (seen at right). So the high-volume Danielle Steel reader can stop dealing with so many books you already know about, but the teenager who recently finished The Lord of the Rings can discover The Silmarillion or The Children of Húrin.

We also push same-author books back somewhat in the genre browsing. You’ll see them, but fewer of them.

Search. BookPsychic was designed as a recommendation system integrated into your OPAC, not an OPAC itself. So the first version passed you back into the OPAC when you wanted to search. But some reviewers found this clunky, and wanted a quick way to search for books to rate.

So we added a search box. It’s simple to use and keeps you in BookPsychic. You can rate items right from the results.

Other authors. Together with the search box, we added a back-of-book button for “more by this author.” It’s a handy way to give Steel or Tolkien a dozen thumbs up.

Coverage. BookPsychic’s coverage continues to improve, with most libraries seeing 55-75% of their ISBNs falling into one or more of its preset genres. A higher percent can be recommended, and everything can be rated.

The system now also picks up non-ISBN items in your library collection, and we’ve added a new genre for “Art and Design.” We’re eager to develop more genres, as wanted.

Speed. It’s faster!

Labels: BookPsychic, new features, recommendations

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

LTFL adds an Australian server!

For a company based in the United States, LibraryThing for Libraries has a surprisingly large number of library customers in Australia and New Zealand. For months we’ve been working on our infastructure to ensure that our data loads as fast as possible in those catalogues on the other side of the world. We’re pleased to announce that we’ve brought live our first server located just outside of Sydney, Australia!

This change means that the LibraryThing for Libraries data won’t have to travel around the world, so it will load considerably faster in each catalogue. Light can travel around the world 7.5 times in a second. But even 133 milliseconds isn’t nothing, and with all the other stuff that goes on, the internet never goes that fast. Sydney may not be right next door to all our Australian libraries, but it’s a lot closer than Boston, Massachusetts.(1)

Of the libraries that have switched to the Australian server so far, we’re seeing speed increases of about 100%—that is, if you’re in Australia, LibraryThing for Libraries’ load time has been cut in half! (Note that because LibraryThing for Libraries loads from your browser, if you hit these libraries from the US, you’ll find them slower—slow like Australia used to be.)

Currently the Australian server is running the catalogue enrichment (Ratings and reviews, Tags, Similar Books, Series, Awards, Shelf Browse, Stack Map, Other Editions, and Lexile Measures.), BookPsychic, and our new Book Display Widgets.

Up next, we’ll be working on moving libraries on Library Anywhere, our mobile product, over to the new server!

Let me know if your library (in Australia or New Zealand) subscribes to LTFL and needs assistance in moving to the new server. Email abby@librarything.com.

1. For now we’re going to hold off on a “LibraryThing Europe” server. The connections from the East Coast to Europe are very fast, and Europe is closer, so Europeans experience only lag by a hundred milliseconds or so.

Labels: australia, librarything for libraries

Friday, February 1st, 2013

A service tester for catalog-only computers

Libraries usually have special computers set aside for catalog searching only. They’re often set up to block non-catalog websites, so you don’t check Facebook from the catalog computers.

Unfortunately, the domain whitelists don’t always include all the enrichment services catalogs use, such as LibraryThing for Libraries, Syndetic Solutions, Google Books and so forth. (I discovered this recently at a local public library that uses LibraryThing for Libraries and Syndetic Solutions, neither of which functioned properly from the catalogs in the children’s section.)

To address this I created the Services Tester, a simple webpage to hit from catalog computers. As illustrated on the right, it reports on which domains worked and which didn’t, so a library can make sure all the needed domains are open.

I hope you find it useful! If you have other services to add, email me at tim@librarything.com. And if this gets you intrigued about LibraryThing for Libraries, check us out and email abby@librarything.com to find out more!

Technical notes:

  • Since catalog computers are often the oldest computers in the library, this has been tested down to XP IE6/FF3.
  • This works by loading images from the domains (in an invisible div) and using a sturdy, cross-browser way of identifying failed images. I couldn’t find a cross-browser (to IE6) technique for scripts, without looking for their internals, so I found images at each domain.
  • Subdomains vary extensively, either to split content across logical divisions or to thwart browser limits on concurrent downloads from a single domain. (In fact, of the library-specific services, only LibraryThing seems to do this. It makes a big difference.) To be sure services work, I recommend opening up all subdomains—except Google. If you open Google up all the way, catalog searchers will try to use Google’s main search page—and discover every link doesn’t work.

Labels: opacs, tools

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Book Display Widgets from LibraryThing for Libraries

We’re pleased to launch our newest LibraryThing for Libraries product—Book Display Widgets!

Book Display Widgets let you create virtual book displays for your library’s homepage, catalog, blog, or wherever you want to show off some titles! We’ve included a few examples here, but check out the Showcase page for more widgets in action.

New fiction titles (in a dynamic grid)
(Note: This is a sample widget. If you were using this in a real library,
then each book would link to the book record in the catalog when clicked.)

Book Display Widgets gives you the choice of four different display styles (dynamic grid, shelf browse, scrolling shelf, and 3-D carousel), and endless customization possibilities.

You can feed your widgets all sorts of things, including:

  • Pre-populated data sources. Includes series, awards, tags and genres. We’re smart enough to match them up with your holdings, so you just enter a series name, a tag or genre and we figure out the best books to show.
  • Your holdings. Pick all holdings, new holdings, popular holdings or holdings within a certain call range.
  • Custom lists. Create your lists, hand-entered or drawn from an RSS feed or a web page that lists books.
New York Times Bestsellers (in a 3-D carousel)
(Note: This is a sample widget. If you were using this in a real library,
then each book would link to the book record in the catalog when clicked.)

We built this to be extremely flexible and customizable, so you can create a variety of different widgets, and use them to showcase whatever your library wants to focus on—Booker Prize Winners, National Reading Week, a collection of paranormal romance titles, or staff picks.

See our Showcase page for sample widgets in each display style, and to get inspiration.

Learn more. Email me (abby@librarything.com) with any questions about this or any of the LibraryThing for Libraries products. To subscribe, contact Peder Christensen at Bowker—toll-free at 877-340-2400 or email Peder.Christensen@bowker.com.

See us in Seattle. LibraryThing will be at ALA Midwinter in Seattle later this week, showing off Book Display Widgets and everything else we do.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Pew study: Library patrons want personalized recommendations

A new Pew Internet study on Library Services in the Digital Age was released today, and it contains some findings we found particularly interesting. When asked whether they would use:

“Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior

29% of Americans 16 and older said they would be “very likely” to use such a service, with another 35% saying they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

That’s 64% of patrons interested in a library service which suggested books, audiobooks and DVDs to them based on their own preferences.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s not just Amazon that learns what you like these days. Personal algorithmic recommendations drive dozens of major sites, from Netflix and Pandora to Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. Patrons get this stuff.

As chance would have it, we know of only one service that integrates with library holdings and catalogs, allowing library patrons to receive personalized recommendations—our own BookPsychic. Yes, there are a few in-catalog services that offer recommendations book-by-book—including our own LibraryThing for Libraries “Similar Books”—but BookPsychic is the only library service that learns what you like and adapts accordingly.

What is BookPsychic? Launched in August, BookPsychic is an easy and fun personal recommender system for library patrons—like Netflix or Amazon, but all about what’s in and what’s popular at your library. As you rate books and DVDs, BookPsychic learns more and more about your tastes, and comes up with recommendation lists. And everything shown or recommended is available at your library. Simple “bookstore” genres, like “Recent fiction” and “History,” help you zero in on the books you want.

In the text of the full report (p.61) the researchers noted that some librarians were hesitant to endorse a recommendation service of this type due to concerns about privacy. For patrons, BookPsychic is a completely optional and opt-in system, with stringent privacy protections governing any ratings you make within BookPsychic or any recommendations made to you.

For more information on BookPsychic, see the announcement blog post, or come give it a try with the Portland Public Library. If you want to see what it can do in your library, we’d be happy to set you up with a simple no-commitment trial.

Abby and Kate will be at ALA Midwinter in Seattle this week, so stop by Booth 1108 and chat with them about BookPsychic, or any of the other LibraryThing for Libraries enhancements.

The Pew report is based on a survey of 2,252 Americans aged 16 and above taken between October 15 and November 10, 2012, with a mixture of cellphone and landline surveys. The margin of error is +/- 2.3%. For some more data related to this particular question within the survey, see page 61 of the full report.

Labels: BookPsychic, recommendations