Thursday, August 30th, 2012

LibraryThing is Seven: Summon the AllThing!

LibraryThing’s employees (from left): Chris Catalfo, Abby, Jeremy, Kate, Brian, Tim, Mike, Chris Holland

LibraryThing turned seven today.(1) Seven years! It’s been a blink of time in my life, but it’s a long time, and positively an eternity online. Where so many of our 2005 web 2.0 cohort died, sold out or burned out, LibraryThing somehow survived. We’re stable, profitable and growing, with over 1.5 million members using and the other language sites, and over 400 library systems around the world using our library services.

Chris and Abby win.

Jeremy and Tim lose.

Chief praise goes to our members, the best book people I’ve met online. When LibraryThing went up I wasn’t sure that more than a few hundred people would ever want it. I’m happy I was wrong! After the members, LibraryThing was created by its employees. We’ve had many fine employees before, but I feel (and Abby and Chris H. agree) that we’ve got the best team we’ve ever had right now—a harmonious and balanced mix of talented people. Our most recent project, BookPsychic, solidified my feeling that we had it right. We know we’ve got a lot to do. I look forward to working with them. (You can see the team above.)

To talk about the future, the LibraryThing staff (minus one) came to Portland last week for what we’ve been calling AllThing12—a week of strategic discussions, user-interface arguing, employee scheduling, and lots of eating and drinking.(2) Families and friends came at the end, so we branched off into barbecue and sandcastles.

Some of our pictures can be seen here, at the AllThing12 gallery.

A few main points emerged, especially about development:

  • LibraryThing will live and prosper. It’s been rough at times, but we’re bullish on the future.
  • Taking the time for BookPsychic and another near-complete feature for libraries was worth it. They are models for future development, and potentially explosive products.
  • needs significant work, especially in fixing bugs and making good features better. Our design needs small but significant updates.
  • Our plans for mobile did not work out—the path we were going down is dead. Finding a new path must be a priority.
  • We crafted a new schedule whereby development is ramped up, with Tim recommitting his time and at least one of the other three programmers working with him at all times. Tim’s happy about this (so is Jeremy).
  • We have the development schedule through February plotted out. The two stand-out projects for will be in revising how members search for and add books, and getting it together on mobile.

All told, it was a great meeting. We made some strategic decisions, hammered out parts of the interfaces and planned for the future. And we reconnected socially—a vital task for a company that’s almost entirely virtual. We drank and made off-color jokes. We heedlessly mixed business and family. And when our director of HR fell off her chair, we laughed our heads off and took pictures—and we still have our jobs!

1. Or maybe yesterday. It’s not entirely clear.
2. Our sysadmin, Brian, in Kansas, had classes and wasn’t able to join us—so we video Skyped him in. Next time!

Labels: allthing, birthday, fun


  1. Kirsten says:

    I’m so crashing AllThing13. Congratulations on 7 years, and thanks for all you do!

  2. Diego says:

    Congratulations and many thanks for these seven years of work!!

  3. Tricoteuse says:

    Congrats! I joined LT shortly after it was created, and I’ve used it regularly for all 7 years and still love the site. Keep up the awesome work!

  4. Michaela Jans says:

    Hello, LT-gang, and CONGRATULATIONS!
    It just so happened that today i reached the 200 free limit, so without hesitation i signed up for a lifetime membership. Totally worth it.
    Keep up the good work, i find this the best website i have discovered in years.
    All the best to all of you <3

  5. kath says:

    Happy Birthday LT! An thank you LT team for making this a welcoming social forum, as well as a place to catalog and investigate books, and the opinions others have. The good energy seems to draw really great people here to play.
    I for one ( and there are more, I know ) appreciate all you do to make this so.

  6. sunny says:

    Still one of the best sites on the whole www! I’m proud to have known you from when you were little and looking forward to what you will grow into.

    Very best wishes to you all
    Manuela / sunny

  7. John Dalton says:

    Still skyping in the sysadmin! 😉

    Congrats on seven years! My seventh thingiversary is only about a fortnight away. Great to see LT still going strong, and everyone looking happy and healthy. Here’s to the next seven years!

  8. Max says:

    Well Done, LT! It’s a wonderful site and it means a lot to all who use it. Thanks a million.

  9. Peterk says:

    been a member since 2006, even used it to catalog the books in my parent’s estate (over 800 books) so that they could be divided equitably amongst the heirs.

    I do wish that you had a good android app

  10. Linda says:

    Congrats on 7 years! Thanks for all your hard work!!

  11. andree says:

    Happy Birthday, LibraryThing!

  12. Janice says:

    Congratulations on 7 years. I found you in early 2007 and after entering a few of my books I joined in February 2007. Now over 6000 books later I count on your site for cataloging all my books. I appreciate how you have added new fields listening to your members. I have found new authors, won some books and have made some book friends along the way. Thanks.

  13. Sarah says:

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday. I hadn’t realised I was a relatively early user of the site. My 6th Thingaversary is very soon.
    May you live long and prosper as a certain alien says.
    And a few more users from the UK would be good too.

  14. Morag (mta) says:

    Mealaibh ur naidheachd! Congratulations LibraryThing! Warm good wishes for future success and thanks for all the fish.

  15. esta1923 says:

    Each year I spend more time with you….so thanks to one and all for making my life more interesting.

  16. Connie53 says:

    Congratulations on the 7 years! I cannot imagine live without LT. Thanks for all the work.

  17. Congrats, I only recently started using LT but have had an account for a while, and been hearing good things about you even longer!

    Looking forward to the new add books page and mobile plans. Would love to be able to add books from my phone by scanning a bar code…

    Also in regards to your roadmap above, have you given any thought to open-sourcing the code for the site? I’d bet you have a lot of users with great ideas, and the skills to implement them. (As long as there’s a strong centralized control to keep the metaphorical kitchen sinks out of the code.)

  18. Nicole says:

    Happy birthday LT!!!

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