Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Sneak Peek: TinyCat for Small Libraries


We’ve done a lot of hinting about unveiling some big news at ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco this week, and now, we’re giving you a sneak peek… at TinyCat.

What is TinyCat? TinyCat turns LibraryThing into a powerful, simple, online catalog for so-called “tiny libraries” (less than 20,000 titles).

These smallest libraries—churches, synagogues, small schools, community centers, academic departments, etc.—have been using LibraryThing to catalog their collections for almost a decade. That continues with TinyCat. TinyCat offers a new way to view the catalog that’s cleaner and focused on helping patrons find and discover books in your library.(1)

TinyCat is:

  • Simple. TinyCat is simple and clean. Faceted searching adds power.
  • Mobile. TinyCat looks and works great on every device and platform.
  • Flexible. TinyCat supports all media types, not just the books that drive LibraryThing.
  • Professional. Import and export MARC records. Track patrons and show item status.
  • Secure. HTTPS always.
  • Enhanced. TinyCat includes the best, most useful enhancements LibraryThing can offer—more than almost any “big-library” catalog has.

Screenshots (click images for large size)



Method to our madness? It’s no coincidence that we’ve been rolling out lots of new features lately, many of which have been necessary to make TinyCat possible (think Barcode Support, Circulation, Advanced Search and now New Feature: MARC Import). There’s still more to come. We couldn’t be more excited.

TinyCat is coming soon. (We were aiming for ALA, so it’s very close.)

See us at ALA. Stop by booth 3634 at ALA Annual this weekend in San Francisco to talk to Tim and Abby and see TinyCat live. (We’ll show it with your collection, if you have one.)

If you need a free pass to the exhibit hall, details are in this blog post.

Interested? If you’re a librarian of a small library who might be interested in beta testing TinyCat, get in touch! Drop us an email at

1. In library terms, TinyCat is the OPAC (“Online Public Access Catalog”), and LibraryThing is the ILS (“Integrated Library System.”)

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, TinyCat


  1. jjmcgaffey says:

    Mobile, huh? Is this the “something better” than Sounds good!

  2. AnnaClaire says:

    I think you mean “kitten.”

  3. Emily says:

    Looks exciting!

  4. Tim says:

    jjmcgaffey: Yeah, we’re going to make TinyCat, or a version of it, the default mobile view of LibraryThing. It’s just a LOT better.

  5. Kirbyjack says:

    I could see this as being a great tool for a large classroom library. I’ve been thinking about trying something new this next school year.

  6. Henri says:

    Looks great, looking forward to the release.

  7. Jason says:

    What’s the cost?

    • Loranne says:

      The pricing model for TinyCat is still being discussed, but it’s likely to be on a sliding-scale basis. We’ll be posting more updates as details develop!

  8. […] Sneak Peek: TinyCat for Small Libraries « The LibraryThing Blog. We’ve done a lot of hinting about unveiling some big news at ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco this week, and now, we’re giving you a sneak peek… at TinyCat. What is TinyCat? TinyCat turns LibraryThing into a powerful, simple, online catalog for so-called “tiny libraries” (less than 10,000 titles). […]

  9. Sarah says:

    Please make t-shirts!

  10. Betty says:

    I recently was forwarded your email regarding TinyCat.
    I am a member of the Friends of the Ridgeland Area Library. We are in the process of renovating a building for our library. We are in the infant stage of catologing and inventoring books. This is strictly by volunteers. We are actively holding fundraising events to raise funds. I am interested in this system but I need to know the cost and also could we be a beta test site?

    Thank you, Betty Glaser

  11. Scott says:

    Will we ever get a mobile app for the home user? Your customer base has been requesting this for years!

  12. […] LibraryThing offers sneak peak at its new TinyCat catalog of Tiny Libraries […]

  13. How much is this Tiny Cat?

    • Loranne says:

      Pricing for TinyCat is still being discussed. It will likely be on a sliding scale basis, though.

      • This set of features, bundled under the “Tiny Cat” name will truly revolutionize what can be accomplished at my church! Our collection runs to about 1200 volumes, none of it yet cataloged in LT — we hesitated because we couldn’t put together the service and mgt components necessary to offer our parishioners access to a searchable db of our holdings, barcoding, circulation, MARC import and inventory.

        As to cost — our annual budget is $200. That needs to cover materials acquisition (altho we can also invite donations) and supplies. So unless the price is within reach, we will be unable to take advantage of Tiny Cat.

        Thank you for all you’re doing to help the very small libraries and individuals.

  14. Jen says:

    Someone sent me this link because of my own Tiny Cat, so I just had to share. 😀 She’s a kitten we found in our produce market in Birmingham.

  15. David C. says:

    How is a library with 9,999 volumes “tiny”? Your nomenclature seems a little off.

    • infinitebuffalo says:

      compared to an academic library, which could have several million volumes? even a small college library would have several hundred thousand items. Compared to that, yes, 9K is pretty tiny…

  16. Ellen says:

    Hmm… sounds interesting. I chair my synagogue’s library committee and use LibraryThing for our catalog. Am looking forward to hearing more about this. Please remember that many small libraries (like ours!) are run by nonprofits and have little or no budget and can’t afford much. The original $25 fee for joining LT was actually paid one of our committee members so we could have a computerized catalog – I don’t think we had any money at all at that point!

  17. Gail Shurgot says:

    Will TinyCat have a Print Catalogs function? We have a tiny library and need hard copy catalogs.

  18. Rob Szarka says:

    Just wanted to throw a crazy idea at your re: TinyCat. Is there any reason not to make the TinyCat identifiers globally unique? If they were, then a LT-using friend who borrows one of my books could easily figure out who it belongs to, and likewise for inter-library loans between small institutional libraries. It might also enable some creative approaches to distributed libraries we can only speculate about. Is this something that can be done with TinyCat, or do some constraints make this a very different project?

  19. Nick says:

    Will there be scope for integrating non-book items, such as serials?

    • Tim says:

      Yes. We’re still finalizing how serials will be handled. But we’re definitely going to have CDs, DVDs, VHS, etc.

      • Nick says:

        Excellent – hopefully also: Articles/data sets, Realia/Objects, Archives/Manuscripts, Pictorial etc, and an online versions/530 field.

  20. I’m slowly entering my books into my LibaryThing account. While I like the idea of the barcodes I would also like to have the dewy decimal labels too. Will you able to provide users with those as well?

    • Loranne says:

      We’d definitely like to offer users the ability to order spine labels directly from us as well, although we’re still looking into how exactly we’d be able to make this happen. Stay tuned for updates!

  21. Ruth Temple says:

    Chatted with Abby and grinned over at Tim-in-conversation at ALA; I keep the tiny (under 1000 volumes if counting just books, plus back issues of All the Magazines) library for my local weaver’s guild, and am really excited about TinyCat! I’d love to hear more, and to get it up and running as soon as you’re ready to test it.
    And yes, there should be a Shirt.

  22. Paul says:

    Looking forward to using this for my charity’s small library. One question though… with it being able to access and include Mark records, and since Mark records come in all sorts of languages, does this mean that we will finally be able to search with Chinese characters?


  23. Maria says:

    I would like to receive updates about this in the future. I think it may be a good option for my church’s tiny library, so I intend to tell the librarian who oversees it about this. I am constantly offering to help her with anything that needs to be done, and I think this would be fantastic for it. Though, I know there is very limited budget available to pay for something like this, so cost will likely be a factor in our potential adoption.

  24. beau says:

    Any updates on the release date?

  25. Jim Martin says:

    Dear Loranne,
    I like the sound of TinyCat! I have been collecting books relating to antique furniture and consequently furnishings and interiors,for nearly forty years; now retired can I use TinyCat to establish a workable catalog but also list a reference point to an important article within the book?I covered English, French, American and Continental furniture and desperately need to know exactly what I have but also be able to locate it when needed.
    Kind Regards,

  26. Barbara says:

    When is TinyCat coming out? Waiting impatiently! 🙂

  27. Linda Jones says:

    I am currently helping with the children’s collection at our church library. As with several others, we depend on volunteers and donors for any money. However, the pastor in charge of this area is excited about the catalog as it would solve some of our search issues for those less experienced with databases.
    Is there any way to be part of beta testing? If so, how does one apply?

  28. Mike Cassidy says:

    FEWER than….?

    I know: Picky, picky. But this is a literary bunch.


  29. Meg Anastasi says:

    We are in the process of starting to catalog our (teeny tiny) 300-400 vol church library. Please update me/us with the release date. We’d love to be a beta site. Also… cost will be a factor. Thanks!!

  30. Henri says:

    How close is TinyCat?

  31. Bidwell-Glaze says:

    Is it possible to link our church library to LibraryThing now, in preparation for TinyCat? I was only interested in my personal library when I got started, and no longer remember how to start with bar-code entry and such, as I, personally, like hand entry.

  32. Barbara says:

    What’s the latest on TinyCat’s release date?

  33. Sarah Davis says:

    Another little follow-up. We’re excited to play with TinyCat!

  34. Brian says:

    How do we get it?

    • Loranne says:

      TinyCat is in beta testing right now, and will be available for purchase and wide release soon! Don’t worry—you’ll be able to test it out for free before you decide whether or not you’d like to continue using it. If you’ll send me an email at, I’ll put you on our TinyCat mailing list, so you’ll get an email from us once it’s available!

  35. Zoe says:

    I’m in the process of setting up a small library for a nonprofit organization. I am VERY interested in test driving TinyCat. How do I go about making this happen>

  36. Alex Holzer says:

    Just wondering about tinycat, very excited need to sort my collection out 😉

    • Loranne says:

      We’re working hard on getting it ready for release (in the next month or two)! We’ve been beta testing for a while. If you’re not already one of our beta testers and would like to be, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to get you set up. I’m at

  37. laxman p naidu says:

    hello there

    I have a tiny personal library holding about 1500 books and many articles and leaflets of yester years.I am very much interested in tiny kitten\cat catalogue services of library thing.It should be a great service to the book worms of the community.


  38. Sean says:

    Question 1: For those of us with lifetime LibraryThing memberships, will those carry over to TinyCat? Or will TinyCat have a separate (but parallel) lifetime membership fee?

    Question 2: What will LibraryThing become?

    You may have already answered these question. I simply skimmed the comments, but I didn’t see them. Sorry if I’m repeating questions that were already answered.

    • Loranne says:

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Pricing details for TinyCat are still under discussion, so I can’t give you specific numbers just yet, but I can tell you about the pricing structure. TinyCat pricing will be on a monthly basis for organizations, and will be determined based on the type of organization, and size of the collection. Individual members will be able to use TinyCat for free, but their library on TinyCat will not be publicly visible. Organizations that have already paid for a lifetime membership will have the one time set-up fee ($25) for TinyCat waived.

      In answer to your second question, LibraryThing isn’t going anywhere. We’ve built a lot of features for in order to support TinyCat (like Lending, for instance), so it has only enriched the features we offer for both. On the flip side, TinyCat would be significantly less cool without LibraryThing’s wealth of data (series, awards, tags, etc.), so the two have a supportive relationship.

      I hope this helps! Please feel free to email me ( if you have any further questions.

  39. Derek says:

    Do you envisage TinyCat to be of use to HOME libraries (such as the theological library of a minister)? If so, how would the costing be scaled – in the same way as an institution, or some other method?

    • Loranne says:

      TinyCat isn’t targeted to home libraries, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used and useful in that way. All individual LibraryThing members will be able to see their own libraries in TinyCat, for free, so long as they’re logged in. Their TinyCat libraries just won’t be shareable/visible to others.

      • Derek says:

        Thanks for that Loranne. Keeping track of my library drives me mad. It would be good to have somewhere safe and reliable to keep my records.

  40. Tammy says:

    Hi! I’m definitely interested doing some beta testing of TinyCat! I just sent an email. I have hundreds of books that I would like to be cataloged. Hope to hear from you soon. 🙂 Thanks!

  41. Bonnie Beauchamp says:

    Hi Loranne,

    I see that for individual users, Tiny Cat won’t be shareable or visible. Is it possible for an individual to pay to make it shareable or visible? Thanks for all you guys do!

    • Loranne says:

      Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for reaching out. I wanted to run your question by my colleagues before responding, to make sure I was giving you the most up-to-date information. In answer to your question, yes, individual members will be able to purchase a “Personal” membership for TinyCat, if they’d like to share their TinyCat library with others. We’re still working out the pricing for that, and I’ll post an update here once we’ve got that nailed down.

      In the meantime, feel free to email me at if there’s anything else I can help you with.

  42. Darcy Pemberton says:

    Does TinyCat include a circulation module?

    • Loranne says:

      Hi Darcy,

      Yes! TinyCat comes fully equipped with a circulation module. In case you haven’t seen it, we’ve also built a circulation feature directly into LibraryThing. Any current LibraryThing members who’ve used circulation on LibraryThing, and who then subscribe to TinyCat will see all their circulation data from LT automatically ported over to TinyCat, as well.

      I hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you have any further questions. I’m at

  43. Julie Williams says:

    Curious about an app. Way back in 2015 the comments said it would be released in a few months.

  44. Carol Brown says:

    I am representing a small not for profit activist organization. We have a small and growing library. I plan to use Library Thing to catalog the library, and for circulation.

    I made an account for carolb5, and cannot figure out how to make one for racemattersfriends, as a group/organization. I am just overlooking a frequently asked question that is embedded in your site somewhere?

    Please help me get this done. Thanks.

    • Loranne says:

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Please make sure to sign out of your personal account before attempting to set up a new one. Click the “sign out” link in the upper-right corner of any page on LT, and then go to, where you should see a “Join Now” button. Click that to get started with setting up your organization’s account.

      If you have any further questions, please email us at and we’ll be happy to help you from there.

  45. Miles Davis says:

    Will Tiny Cat help in shelving books cataloged in Librarything for use in a home library?
    If so, how so?
    Miles Davis

  46. Miles Davis says:

    My tentative idea is to shelve books in order of LC catalog code, for example, Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande: RA399.A1 G39

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