Archive for September, 2005

Friday, September 30th, 2005

LibraryThing adds 10 new libraries

LibraryThing has made another great leap forward. Until now LibraryThing drew exclusively on the Library of Congress and the five national “Amazons.”

Today ten more libraries have joined the mix:

  • United States: Boston University, The University of California system, The University of Chicago, Yale University
  • Britain: The National Library of Scotland, The London School of Economics, The National Library of Wales
  • Canada: The Canadian National Catalogue
  • Australia: The National Library of Australia
  • Denmark: Det Kongelige Bibliotek

Searching for books should also be faster, both because connections are shared between users and because you can now shift libraries when one doesn’t respond well.

It is a starter list. The US additions are a strong start. I hope Canadians, Australians and Danes will be happy seeing their national libraries included. Brits may feel the absence of Cambridge, Oxford and the British Library—the latter two are open and will be added. The French and Germans were, I confess, slighted, although the Canadian National Library has a lot of French literature. And what can I say to the Brazilians who have flocked in such numbers after LT was profiled in O Globo? I’ve looked and I will keep looking. I have an open Z39.50-based library in Portugal, but it is either down or on the blink. There are also some private universities in Brazil that are said to have open catalogs. I will find something for you!

There are a number of ramifications to the change that aren’t yet resolved:

  • Although I now have richer data and can populate additional fields, including series, language and edition, I have not yet exposed them to viewing and editing.
  • You will note that newly added books lack accents. Look on the bright side—they don’t have the wrong accents.
  • Fortunately, accents are coming. New books have a checkbox for “Update as cataloging data improves.” Keep this checked and accents will soon appear where once there was none. All I have to do is crack the obscure character set Marc records employ…

Labels: 1

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

250,000 books

Cheers to all for another milestone!

Labels: 1

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

How much library info is too much?

Library-expansion is another day or so off, but librarians and other interested parties are invited to weigh in on what new fields I should provide.

“MARC” records open up a world of data. I can finally parse all names correctly, add secondary authors, strip “a”s and “the”s from sorting, separate out publisher, place of publication and date of publication, and even wring automated sense from “xix, 230; ill., 25 cm.”

I don’t want to go overboard. Library records have more in them than most users need. Who but an institution needs to distinguish between “Uniform Title,” “Title Statement” and “Varying forms of Title”? Who scans their shelves confused between Dan Brown (1964–), author of the Da Vinci Code, and Dan Brown (n.d.) the publisher of the 1704 tract Novum Lumen Chirurgicum vindicatum?

For starters I can dump publisher and physical info into the “publication” field. And I can put everything into a static “card catalog” field, as I currently do with Library of Congress data. But what details should I “pull out” and allow to be edited, sorted by, and displayed in catalog view?

My candidates are:

  • Secondary authors, editors and illustrators (It is likely their role will be elided, except in the cataloging field)
  • Number of pages (Arabic numeral pages only)
  • Language

If you’re not a librarian, see Understanding MARC Bibliographic for Marc’s “commonly used” fields. Then thank you librarian for knowing this kind of thing AND dealing with people who come in and ask for “that red book, you know.” Incidentally, and taking that seriously, if a book’s “variant tile” includes such wishy-washy info as the spine-title (when different from the “real” title), why doesn’t it capture the dominant cover color? User hh219 appears to be doing that; perhaps it helps when looking for something.

Labels: 1

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Oxford coming up; Librarians suggest libraries

Stay tuned for Oxford University’s collection, coming on line later today or tomorrow. Then I’ll start bringing other Z39.50 libraries on fairly quickly, in order of user interest, connection speed and record parseability (I’m trying to do everything with Marc records now). Oh, and they need to be open to anyone and available all the time. The Z39.50 world is fairly new to me, but there are apparently thousands of people involved in it.

If you’re a librarian and know what the heck I’m talking about, feel free to suggest candidates. For starters I’d like to add some large US university libraries, to fall back on when the LC is slow. Oh, and I need a shoulder to cry on: Marc21 is blithering nonsense!

Labels: 1

Monday, September 26th, 2005

Amazon Associates!

Your complaints have been heard—Amazon gave it a thumbs up! You can now use your Amazon Associates id within a blog widget, and take back a small fraction of the $1/day all 200 or so blog widgets are making me. You don’t even need to have a paid account to run off with my haypence. That’s how generous I am.

(Frankly, I’d rather not to link to Amazon, but it’s a requirement if I use their cover image. Of course the text links go to your library or the book itself.)

Labels: 1

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

Better URLs for users

People were complaining that the LibraryThing URLs were too complex and it was hard to find the URL for a direct link to your collection. From now on you can use URLs like:

The catalog one will “redirect” to a more complex URL, the server rules being extremely difficult and hazardous to play with while dozens of people are on. Your URL is also listed on your profile page.

Labels: 1

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

LibraryThing makes the Mainstream Media, in Brazil

Special thanks to a reader of the Brazilian newspaper O Globo for forwarding me their blurb. I never managed to find it on the website, but I have the original. After spending about 2 seconds puzzling over it, rusty French and Latin at the ready, I threw it into Google:

Sunday toast For who has some familiarity with the English, access to the InterNet and thinks about fichar its library. A small farm makes success that receives the heading from a book, searchs it in the Library of the Congress of the United States, captures its fiche and plays it in the archive of the customer. is called and was created by Tim Spalding, an American pc hacker with the feet in the classic culture. It is in the version Beta (with the risks that this means) and leaves favour for who wants to catalogue up to 200 books. For bigger libraries, it charges USS 10 for the limitless use of the instrument. In less of one month, librarything joined four a thousand users who ficharam 177 a thousand books. It gained news article in the “The Guardian” and the forecast of that somebody goes to gain money with this business. If it will not be Spalding, will be another person. The Library of the Congress is a colossus. Its catalogue has 28 book million in 470 languages. For example: 18 headings of Fernando Gabeira. (who to want to sapear, an acknowledgment: the instrument of not accepted search accents nor cedilhas.)

This is great, if largely from Brown’s Guardian piece. My only fear is that ten Brazilians will try to start their own LibraryThing, looking for that money. (The money ain’t happening, people. It’s nice not to feel guilty about searching for freelance, but this is not making me rich. Then again, I might be rich if I were in Brazil.)

One question: At least for me the “instrument” seems to work with “search accents and cedillas” (that part ought to be “the search engine does not accept accents or cedillas,” instrumento de busca não aceita acentos nem cedilhas). Am I the only one?

Labels: 1

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

200,000 books!

Users have now cataloged 200,000 books, and the pace is increasing day-by-day. Three quarters were cataloged in the last two weeks.

I expect LibraryThing to keep growing for some time. Not only do most users have a lot of books to go, but only a fraction of the world’s book-lovers have ever heard of LibraryThing.

Bloggers—Thank you for blogging LT; it would never have gone anywhere without you. Bloggers who haven’t blogged about it—What are you waiting for?

On a related note, LibraryThing will go down for scheduled maintenance at 2am Sunday morning EST. It will probably be down until 5am. When it comes up it will be ready for the next 200,000.

Labels: 1

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

Shelf view

You can now switch to seeing your book covers displayed side-by-side together as if they were on a shelf. (On a shelf facing out, which no book-lover would do!) Check it out.

Some notes:

  • This post was originally a request for QA help. I think all the errors can be traced to something which is now fixed. Before reporting an error, quit out of your browser and come back in. The “stylesheets” in your cache may be old.
  • If you report an error, also tell me you browser and OS. If you’re feeling generous, also give me a screenshot.
  • I will look into ways users can contribute cover images. I’m worried about it from storage, security and spamming angles. I might add such a feature, but restrict it to external URLs at established booksellers and publishers.
  • The effect is something like what Delicious Library does, although Delicious Library improves Amazon’s images and puts them on a photo-realistic shelf. (Rectangles floating in space is about all I can handle right now!) For what it’s worth, I didn’t steal the feature from DL. I doubt he patented it, but I’ve got prior year prior art from an eBook project I worked on at my former employer, Houghton Mifflin.

Labels: 1

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

New Amazon bookmarklet

I’ve made an Amazon bookmarket, a little bookmark you put on your toolbar. When you’re on Amazon and want to add a book to your library, click on the bookmarklet and it will add it to your library. Get the Amazon bookmarklet out the extras page.

Labels: 1