Archive for the ‘1’ Category

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Common Knowledge milestone and feature

Some time last night LibraryThing Common Knowledge hit three million edits.

Common Knowledge, introduced back in 2007, is LibraryThing’s “social cataloging” experiment—a fielded wiki for all the data that you can’t find elsewhere.

The three-millionth edit was made by starlightgenie, who marked Texas Ranger Takes A Bride to the Western Weddings series. starlightgenie, want a t-shirt?

I recently introduced two features that make Common Knowledge better. Inter-language visibility allows members to see what members using non-English version of LibraryThing have entered into Common Knowledge, and even to edit one language’s Common Knowledge within another site. “Borrowing” data between languages shows Common Knowledge across languages, with a notice, and allows you to edit the entry to bring it into your language’s Common Knowledge. Together, they solve a long-standing social problem with Common Knowledge–how to make sure information flowed easily, but appropriately across LibraryThing’s many sites.

Here’s a screenshot the new features:

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Monday, January 10th, 2011

Free Books! January ER Batch is Up!

The January 2011 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 76 books this month, and a grand total of 1893 copies to give out.

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:

The deadline to request a copy is Friday, January 28th at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, and many other countries. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

HarperCollins Childrens Books Henry Holt and Company Canongate Books
Kregel Publications Lake Claremont Press Chronicle Books
Harper Paperbacks Gefen Publishing House Penguin
WaterBrook Press New American Library Crossway
The Permanent Press Bloomsbury Orca Book Publishers
Hyperion and Voice Double Day Religion Candlewick Press
Taylor Trade Publishing Ballantine Books St. Martin’s Griffin
Zed Books Active Spud Press Rockin SR Publishing
Human Kinetics The People Builders BookViewCafe
St. Martin’s Press Nolo Swank Books
Small Beer Press Riverhead Books Spiegel & Grau
Oxford University Press C. Hurst & Co Publishers Mulholland Books
Frog Legs Ink Hungry Goat Press

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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

LibraryThing meetup at the National Book Festival

Book Festival posterIt’s actually the 5th Annual BookCrossing/LibraryThing Meet-Up at The National Book Festival, 2010, in Washington, DC but that makes for a long blog post title. If you’re interested in socializing with other LibraryThing and Bookcrossing members while you’re at the National Book Festival, this is your chance. The festival is free, and there will be many many authors to see.

Read more about the meet-up here in the Talk group.

Date: Saturday, September 25, 2010
Time: 2-3 pm (the festival runs from 10 AM – 5 PM)
Place: Bottom right side of the steps leading to the Museum of Natural History (the domed building).
What: We gather informally for an hour to chat and get to know one another. Bookcrossing will be giving away free books. Help yourself to any books that you wish to take home. Just look for the yellow Bookcrossing wagon.
Who: Any member of LibraryThing OR Bookcrossing and their family and friends are invited. Wear something that identifies you as a LibraryThinger or Bookcrosser.

Thanks to Squeakychu for organizing!

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Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Your publishers

I’ve pushed a Stats/Memes page that shows how your books stack up against the publishers in LibraryThing for Publishers.

It shows all your publishers, with the collections they’re in, and the number.

See Yours:

The main publisher page also has a “all” vs. “yours” toggle, so you can see the information there instead.

More coming on Monday!

Talk about this here.

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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Groups show connections

Two small changes: Group pages now show who among your friends and other connections are in the group. We’ve also restored group member-counts. Both look forward to a restored group-Zeitgeist.

Discuss here.

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Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Boston brie party

Last Saturday, we threw a party in Boston. Since the American Library Association midwinter meeting was already drawing many librarians and publishers to the city, we jumped on the chance to bring together bookish sorts for an evening of talking books, eating cheese and tipping a pint.

If I had to guess, I’d say there were around 75 people over the 2.5 hours we were holding court at the Green Dragon.

The LibraryThing for Libraries crew announced two new features at the conference, so the booth was busy. Abby’s recap is forthcoming on Thingology.

See all the pictures of the party and the LTFL booth here.

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Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Congratulations to Mike and Rebecca

Congratulations to LibraryThing programmer Mike Bannister and his bride Rebecca Kilkenny Mullins—we wish you many joyful years together!

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Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Inauguration at the LibraryThing offices

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Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

LibraryThing server eaten by moose

Sorry. Made you look…

Find LibraryThing a Maine employee, please!

We’re gonna keep collections hostage until we get a warm body in an uncomfortable chair over here.

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

News you can… discuss

Big news today—Amazon now owns 100% of our rival and bête noire, Shelfari.

With a lot to do today, I don’t have time to blog-ify it, but you can read about it on Talk and talk back. We’ve always relied on members to direct the site. We could use your advice now more than ever!

Here’s the post on Talk:

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Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Book pile contest, redux

Chris and I managed to bury the lead, too quickly. Check it out, there is a Book Pile Contest going on.

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Monday, April 14th, 2008

Tags and hiccups

This weekend we made a number of important structural changes to how LibraryThing’s 34.8 million tags are stored in the database. (For database heads, tags are now “fully normalized.”)

The immediate upside is that tags can now be up to 255 characters long. It will also allow us to improve some features, such tag editing.

The downside is that the changes have hurt performance. Certainly the site is running very “hot,” forcing us to choose between running slow and pulling back service. Right now we’re doing the latter, redirecting most non-member traffic to the home page to sign in or sign up. This cuts back the large proportion of our traffic that is bot-related, but we can’t run this way for too long.

It’s unclear if the change is itself to blame or the loss of various tag-related caches, which need to be built up afresh with the new structures. There also appear to be some places that are hurting more than others, which code can perhaps be re-written. We’re going to be looking carefully at what we can do, and deciding whether we need to make additional changes, or pull back the ones we made.

Thanks for your patience. The next few days may see occasional slowness or downtimes. With the four of us on it, however, we hope to minimize problems and solve this to everyone’s satisfaction.

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Friday, September 14th, 2007

Introducing Lindsey (and thanks to Cliff!)

Lindsey Nichols (LibraryThing: lindseynichols) just joined the LibraryThing team as our “assistant librarian”—bringing the total librarians on staff count up to two! She’s going to be helping us out part time from the “Boston office”,* helping with emails, answering questions, dealing with account issues, mailing out CueCats, and whatever else we decide to throw at her.

Lindsey in a nutshell: She got her library degree from Simmons, and also has an MFA in creative writing. Clearly, she should be contributing to Help in Haiku endeavor on the new WikiThing. Lindsey’s favorite authors include Shelley Jackson, George Saunders, Peter Matthiessen, and Carson McCullers. She enjoys baking, reading commodity histories, and viewing educational museum taxidermy. Also long walks on the beach.**

You can email Lindsey at lindseyAT

I also wanted to make sure that we thanked Clifford Vickrey (LibraryThing: dinner_bell), our excellent and tireless intern over the summer. Cliff was amazingly likeable*** guy, who refused to sit anywhere except on the floor, and was an excellent chauffeur in the pouring rain. Thanks to him. We’ve also decided to give his entire school (Colby) free LibraryThing accounts, so watch for news on that.****

*aka, Abby’s apartment
**ok, fine, I added that last part.
***so sayeth Tim
****We’re thinking of giving free accounts to students at a handful of schools (starting with our own alma maters, of course).

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Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Downtime 2am tonight (Wednesday)

We’re going to make some database changes tonight, starting at 2am Eastern US and continuing for 1-3 hours.

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Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Some “Your library” changes

I’ve added two features to the Cover view in Your Library. You can resize your covers with handy plus and minus buttons. And you can sort your books within Cover view (before this you had to do it in List view).

The back story is that I’m rewriting* Your Library rather extensively, both because it needed to be done and to prepare the way for collections (which are finally going to happen!). Your library needs a good scrub before collections arrive. The changes are minor on the surface, but drastic underneath. If you see problems, let us know.**

*What programmers call “refactoring” for no good reason.
**Since there’s been some speculation, we wil NOT be releasing collections today—although it’s our second birthday—or, probably, this week.

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Monday, August 20th, 2007

Introducing Casey Durfee (and the new search)

We just hired Casey Durfee (LibraryThing: caseydurfee), a crackerjack “Library 2.0” hacker. Casey’s first project—faster, better search—debuts today (see below). It’s a big win. We have a long queue of similar projects. Casey will also be heading up LibraryThing for Libraries, our project to get our data into library catalogs.

Casey will be working from Seattle, where he was recently left a job at the Seattle Public Library, managing their library system. Before that Casey worked at SirsiDynix*, so he has a lot of background in the arcane world of library systems—just what we needed for LibraryThing for Libraries. Casey is also responsible for L2, a handy Greasemonkey plug-in that adds Amazon content to library catalogs.

Perhaps the coolest thing Casey has done is a project called Helios, a “faceted” search on the Library of Congress records, done very simply and entirely with open-source software. It was a personal project, and although it’s not a complete solution, it searches the LC better than the LC’s million-dollar catalog. You can see Casey in action, talking about Helios, in this Code4Lib talk on Google Video.

Search. Check out the new work and author searches. They’re based on Solr, a simple but powerful search engine, and the same one Casey used on the LC data. Until now, we were relying on MySQLs fulltext capabilities. We had outgrown it, and slow performance was causing frequent database glitches.

It’s fast, accurate and searches all titles, not just the “leading” (mostly English) ones. But, as with everything we do, it’s not “perfect.” Casey has set up a Talk post about it. He has a variety of knobs he can turn, and is looking for feedback. I’m convinced it’s overzealous on “stemming”—picking up “loves” and “lovely” for “love.” That it even does stemming is quite an improvement from our previous solution. Once we’ve got it working the way we like, we’ll also be adding it to touchstones and elsewhere on the site.

Other projects. Casey is a certified library programmer. (I just play one on TV.) He knows his MARC21 from his UNIMARC, and his “glyphs from his diacritics”.** As time goes by we hope he can work on things like:

  • Rewriting our library-data import, to get all the diacriticals right and squeeze more out of the MARC records.
  • Adding more libraries. We’ve been avoiding UNIMARC libraries (eg., Italy libraries) and, until recently, most SRU/SRW-based ones. We can do better. We have also finagled access to British Library data, so look for us to add that too.

LibraryThing for Libraries. Right now, we have more than 350 libraries asking us about LibraryThing for Libraries. Altay and I have been going through at a snail’s pace. Casey should be able to crank that up a bit. We also think his SirsiDynix experience will come in handy. He’s already written a handy LTFL export script for HIP. He’s well-known in the HIP ILS community, and should move us past our current success among Innovative Interfaces catalogs.

That’s it. Welcome on board, Casey!

*When it was Dynix.
**Whatever that means; suggested by Casey.

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Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Widgets in musth

For about three hours this afternoon some of our blog widgets went crazy, inserting very large covers where small ones were supposed to be. I was fixing a long-standing problem, in which some books never showed up in the widget.* In the course of fixing that problem I created another. Some users were amused, some dumbfounded and some pissed off. All good reations, I think.

Anyway, a few users emailed us, and Christopher stepped in to fix the problem. The widgets are okay now.

To the bloggers affected, my sincere apologies. I should have checked the code more before it went live. The change I made didn’t affect widgets of the type I have on the blog or one of the users with the problem I was fixing, so I missed it. It was a dumb mistake, and I wish I had caught it in ten minutes, not three hours.

By way of making it up, if you had one of these blogs and felt inconvenienced, please write me a note with your blog URL and your address, and I’ll ship you off a CueCat barode scanner. Please take me up on this. It’s the least we an do.

*Basically, LibraryThing had imperfect knowledge of what covers Amazon had available, so we weren’t showing everything we could.

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Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Will the Dutch-ness ever stop?

We just inked a deal with AquaBrowser, an Amsterdam-based library catalog company. See the Thingology Post.

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Monday, August 6th, 2007

Hallo! (Getting serious about Dutch books)

I’ve added four book sources for Dutch readers: the Dutch Royal Library (KB), the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) and booksellers and With luck, they’ll be a few more soon.*

This should be big boost for our Dutch site, Until now, there was only one Dutch-language source, TU Delft**. Between the four new sources LibraryThing now embraces virtually all in-print Dutch books, 70,000 cover images and millions of older books.

I hope this will make LibraryThing a much more attrative place for Dutch readers to catalog their books and do the other things LibraryThing is about.

Adding Dutch books required extensive work. Giovanni, LibraryThing’s newest (fractional) employee, helped us track down Bol and Bruna data, our first non-Amazon retailer. On my side it involved dealing with five new formats. Fortunately, much of the work will contribute to adding other sources.

There were some wrinkles:

  • Bol and Bruna are a single search on combined data. Neither feed was intended for personal cataloging, and I found holes in both sets that the other could improve. Even so, the data is thin by LibraryThing standards, lacking publication years and other important fields.*** The covers are great.
  • The Bol/Bruna mash-up was an innovation. LibraryThing trusts that both retailers want to let their customers catalog the books they bought at their stores. But if either tells us to stop, we’ll politely give up our affiliate accounts and withdraw their data. In appreciation for their service to Dutch-language readers, we have put Bol/Bruna links on all work pages, not considering which contributed the data.
  • KB was a tough addition, requiring us to parse two new formats, SRU and Dublin Core. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to execute an ISBN search. The KB data is high quality, but slow to retrieve.
  • KBR required the least attractive sort of data parsing, so-called “screen scraping.” Only titles can be searched, and the result list is very basic. But, when a book is selected, the data is good, and retrieval is fast.

We have also been reaching out to other prominent Dutch-language book sites looking to forge relationships and pick up or link to interesting content. Your suggestions would be most welcome.

Lastly, as those who follow it know, has seen some controversy. A lot of excellent work has gone into the translation, which is farther along than any other. But there have also been uncollegial disagreements. In response I have urged members to respect the collective nature of the endeavor and instituted a Three-Times Rule, similar to Wikipedia’s Three Revert Rule. Except in very special circumstances, members may not translate a given phrase the same way more than three times.

Thanks to all. Comments, questions and criticisms wanted—as always.

*We are waiting for approval to add and implementation and/or approval from a number of other libraries in the Netherlands and Belgium.
**For much of LibraryThing’s existence we were also tying into the Catholic University of Leuven, but their Z39.50 server eventually went black.
***We had hoped to further supplement them with KR or KBR data, but we lack a working ISBN search for both.

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Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Welcome Giovanni!

Everyone say hello to LibraryThing’s newest employee, Giovanni Soltoggio—LibraryThing member Gio. Giovanni will be helping us expand outside the United States, tracking down data sources, talking about LibraryThing to Europeans, making important deals over small cups of coffee and so forth.

Giovanni hails from the Italian Alps—a valley called Valtellina—and now lives in Dusseldorf. He reads Italian, German and English. He speaks some Czech. His favorite authors are Haruki Murakami, Niccolò Ammaniti and Lorenzo Licalzi. He is sharp as a tack, but much nicer.

Strictly speaking, Giovanni is only 20% ours. Four days out of five he’s the European Managing Director for and its European sites, and (for which he writes the blog). He helped BookFinder make the jump to Europe. We’re very grateful to Bookfinder’s Charlie and Anirvan for letting him moonlight a little.

In a few hours I’m going to blog one of Giovanni’s first projects, finding us a decent store of Dutch bibliographic data and covers. He is working on an Italian one right now. We expect big things from him.

If you want to wish him well, or know of good stores in other languages, he’d love to hear from you.* Drop a message on his profile, or email him at

*Finding good data is strangely hard. There are some commercial providers although they largely overlap with what Amazon provides for free. Smaller languages are hard. A few weeks ago we had an Armenian-reader up for a week of Facebook work. I spent much of the last day with him, trying to get hold of a source—any source—of Armenian book data. We would have been happy to link to one bookseller on every page. From a search engine perspective alone, our links are gold to small sites. No luck, alas.

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Thursday, July 26th, 2007

LibraryThing pizza bash Saturday in Cambridge

So, it looks like Saturday is going to involve lightning, so the barbeque has morphed into a pizza party.

But we’re not getting just ordinary pizza! We’ll be ordering from Emma’s Pizza in Cambridge, MA, which is some seriously gourmet stuff (menu).* And we’ll have plenty of chips and hummus too.**

Everyone is invited. Bring a friend. If you can RSVP, great. If not, that’s fine. We’re probably going to need to order the pizza beforehand. We’re going to double the RSVP list. If you like, you can bring something .

When: Saturday, July 28th, 4pm to whenever.

Where: 15 Gurney Street, Cambridge MA (Google map). It’s about 15 minutes walking from the Square. You can also take the 72 (Huron) bus, and ask for the Fayerweather stop.

Parking: The City of Cambridge has declared Saturday LibraryThing day***. You can park anywhere on Gurney Street and between Gurney and Huron on Fayerweather.

Can’t wait to see everyone!

*When Emma’s was at the foot of Gurney Street, when I was young, it was decidedly less upscale. There were no tables—just a counter nobody used—and the ambiance was comprised of Emma berating her meek husband Greg in angry, staccato Armenian all day long. When the current owners bought it they moved it to Kendall Square, avoided marital conflict, added tables and the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts today’s Cambridge requires. Somehow they managed to preserve what was good about it. It’s an amazing pizza.
**Alas, Tim’s trademark sigara börek will not fit with the rest of the meal.

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Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

ALA 2007: Tim and Abby’s Excellent Adventure

If you’re in Washington, DC going to the American Library Association conference, Abby and I hope to see you around. We don’t have a booth, but I’m on panels today and tomorrow:

*BIGWIG Social Software Showcase, 1:30-2:30 Saturday
*RUSA MARS: Harnessing the Hive: Social Networks in Libraries (10:30-12:00 Sunday), with Meredith Farkas and Matthew Bejune

And Abby and I are wandering the hall in our LibraryThing t-shirts (Tim: black; Abby: yellow), meeting people, crashing happy hours, etc.

PS: Come to “Participatory Networks: Libraries as Conversation” 10:30-12:00 (WCC Room 143B) today (Saturday). It’s almost blank in the program, but it’s a top and extremely interesting guy at Second Life—memo to self: put cards in wallet, not pants pocket.

UPDATE: I posted my “Hive” introduction on Thingology.

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Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Fifteen million books!

Going down, like the Titanic.

LibraryThing has hit fifteen million books.

Number 15,000,000 was a 1963 edition of The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton, added by dukedom_enough at 8:57am on June 15. For his luck, Dukedom earns a free gift membership.

Now begins the countdown to a major milestone: becoming the second largest “library” in the US, and with or soon after that, the second largest in the world, gulp.

LibraryThing is not of course a “real” library. You can’t take the books out, they do a lot more with them, and we have a lot more duplicates. We have only about 2.5 million distinct “titles.” But the comparison gives a sense of relative scale to the enterprise.*

Anyway, the tally is now as follows**:

  1. Library of Congress — 30,011,748
  2. Harvard University — 15,555,533
  3. Boston Public Library — 15,458,022
  4. LibraryThing — 15,081,543
  5. Yale University — 12,025,695

With luck, we’ll settle in behind the Library of Congress in 10-15 days. At 30 million, they’re going to take a while to beat.

When will we hit second in the world? Unfortunately, I can’t find a good list of world libraries by volumes. Everyone concedes that the Library of Congress is the largest library. The rest is foggy. Wikipedia has the British Library at 150 million items, and 22 million volumes. The Bibliothèque nationale and the Berlin State Library are at ten million volumes. (The German National Library is said to have 22 million items, but items aren’t volumes.) The stubby entry for the National Library of China speaks of it as:

“… the largest library of Asia and with a collection of over 22 million volumes (including individually counted periodicals, without these around 10 million), it is the fifth largest in the world.”

Which raises the question, does the ALA Factsheet also count periodical volumes separately?

Tim is dead. (Credit)

Surpassing the BPL in any way feels blasphemous; I love the place so much that comparing LibraryThing to the BPL—well, the lions should eat me for thinking it. But Harvard will be sweet. I lived most of my life in Cambridge, MA, but the bastards rejected me twice—undergrad and grad! So, in that spirit, and with Yalies protecting my back, let’s beat that little pile of books over at Widener.

*There are all sorts of problems with these numbers. In fact, libraries don’t really know how many books they have. LibraryThing has a small percentage of items that aren’t books, and a larger number that are “wished for” other otherwise ephemeral. At the same time, many of LibraryThing’s “books” are composed of multiple volumes. So, we’re in the neighborhood of 15 million anyway.

LibraryThing demonstrates something we always knew—that regular people have a lot of books—probably many times what all the world’s libraries hold. I’ve never seen the relative numbers discussed. It never mattered before, but now that regular people can put their catalogs online and engage in tasks, like tagging and work disambiguation, that bear on age-old issues of library science, it’s not entirely pointless to compare the two.

I want to underscore that, in making the comparison, we mean no disrespect to libraries. I think I’ve got some proof that LibraryThing has always been on libraries’ side. Our first hire, Abby, was a librarian. We have always favored library data, where our many recent competitors only care about Amazon’s data. We link to libraries extensively, something no competitor does. And we are grateful that our work has been of interest to the library world—Abby and I have become minor fixtures on the library speaking circuit.***

**Source: ALA Factsheet: The Nation’s Largest Libraries.

***My Library of Congress talk will be online soon, as will my recent keynote at the Innovative Users Group meeting in Sligo, Ireland.

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Friday, June 15th, 2007

Web 2.0 Award Winner

We won SEOmoz’s Web 2.0 Awards, in the Books category.

2007 Web 2.0 Awards Winner

Not to bite the hand that feeds us, but giving Reader2 honorable mention is very strange. Don’t get me wrong, Reader2 was a worthy opponent. Dmitry and I started the same week, almost two years ago. But Reader2 didn’t get that far, and it hasn’t been actively developed in at least a year. Since then more than two dozen sites have entered the market, many better than Reader2. Odd choice.

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Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

A new post to hang comments on

We’ve hit 259 comments on the last post. That’s a lot of words. I’m making a new one here to clear the baffles.

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Monday, June 11th, 2007

Site back, sorry for the outage.

Update: Clearly, we’re down again. John’s working on figuring out why the problem reappeared and how to fix it. Watch for updates on the home page (Abby)

The site is back up, after having being down for a day and a night. An errant script knocked down the “read” database, and when the box crashed, some of the db files were corrupted. This meant the whole db had to be restored from the master db. In addition to the db itself, some of the log files were also affected. Turns our MySQL is a lot more finicky about how log files are handled than I’d ever known, or hoped to know. After a lot of digging around, everything is back the way it belongs, and all that was lost is a night of sleep–no data was lost.

I’d like to apologize profusely to everyone who was inconvenienced. We’ll put more safeguards into place to try to minimize such outages in the future, hopefully.

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Monday, June 11th, 2007


We’re really sorry about the downtime, folks. We’re working hard to get the site back up and running, but it’s taking longer than we’d like. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we know more.

In the meantime, here’s something to do while you wait! I want a new and entertaining bookpile to go on the down page. The rules of this impromptu bookpile contest:

1. Post your pictures to Flickr
2. Tag them “LTdown” (feel free to post the link to your photo in the blog comments here if it doesn’t show up right away)
3. Wait for us to pick a winner.

Update 5:11 pm Eastern: We lost the main “read slave.” No data was lost. (We have five copies at all times.) But are missing a critical machine, and have to rebuild it. John is working to rebuild the machine. I suspect it will not be up tonight.
More updates on the homepage

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Wednesday, June 6th, 2007


LibraryThing’s John McGrath has debuted a new site, TagsAhoy, with a wonderfully simple idea: searcing your tags across multiple sites.

Cross-site tag searching is nothing new; sites like Technorati do it all the time. But TagsAhoy searches your tags, not someone else’s. If you tag a lot, it will come in handy. And you’ll wonder why nobody thought of it before.

So far, TagsAhoy searches LibraryThing,, Flickr, Gmail, Squirl and Connotea. More will come, and John has promised tag clouds and other cool features. Pattered somewhat on the spare design of another of his sites, Wordie (“LibraryThing for words,” “Flickr without pictures,” etc.) TagsAhoy is super-simple to use.

We at least applaud the name. It’s clunky in the way “LibraryThing” is clunky. Or was. Now all the “-Thing” names are bought up and my sub-Lovecraftian joke is almost trendy. We confidently predict “-Ahoy” will be the next “-Thing”*, or even “”, “-r,” “-ster” and “-Space.”**

John recently moved to New Jersey and will be transitioning gradually off LibraryThing work over the next few months, as we look for a new PHP programmer with systems skills (job announcement to be posted soon). With TagsAhoy and whatever else his fertile mind creates, Abby, Altay and I wish him well.

*Research suggests is an expired domain. It sounds like a site for people who enjoy watching naked people on boats very very far away. There’s a market for everything.
**John suggests a site of just Web 2.0 suffixes, ThingAhoySter.

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Friday, May 25th, 2007

See all a work’s tags

LibraryThing members have added well over 18 million tags. Of course, they aren’t equally distributed. Popular books now sport thousands or even tens of thousands of tags. Work pages have a small tag cloud for each book, but it only shows the most popular thirty or so.

So I added a link to show all tags for a work. It shows the whole “long tail.” It’s very long indeed. It’s stunning.

Here’s Freakonomics with the standard tag cloud:

Click “show all tags” and you get around five pages of tags. Here’s a piece of that:

If you want to see the actual numbers, you can click the “show numbers” link.

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Monday, May 14th, 2007

LibraryThing for Libraries in Danbury

“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

Over in Thingology I’ve announced the first library to use LibraryThing for Libraries—The Danbury Library in Danbury Connecticut. Works, recommendations, tags—they’ve got it all.

I’ve said I wouldn’t do as much cross-posting, now that we have a combined blog feed (see over on the right). But I thought I’d mention it here, and explain a bit about what it means for LibraryThing.

First, as members of LibraryThing, you should feel proud that your data—anonymous and aggregate, as the Terms of Use say—is helping library patrons to find books. Your passions—the books on your shelves—beat statistical “paths” through books that others can follow. Your tags–the way you think about your stuff–will help people find subjects not covered by traditional subject classification.

For those concerned about development time, I want to emphasize that LibraryThing for Libraries is good for LibraryThing. On the most basic level, it’s going to help our bottom line. That means more programmers making features and fixing bugs. Conceivably, it could mean cheaper accounts.

It also deepens our relationship with libraries, and returns a favor. LibraryThing was built on library data, and we’ve been graciously invited into the library conversation. We are charging for LibraryThing for Libraries, but our prices are in an entirely different league from what libraries are accustomed to pay for their online catalog software. And as these catalogs add “social” features, LibraryThing for Libraries will exert powerful downward pressure on prices. Ultimately, the industry needs a newcomer to take a huge slice of a smaller market. We’re not going to be that company, but we can push the trend along.

LibraryThing for Libraries has also taught us a lot about library catalogs. These are some thorny, mysterious systems! Until now, we’ve relied exclusively on the simplicity of Z39.50 connections, which most libraries don’t have. But we can do more. With out new-found experience, we can start connecting to the remaining 95%. If nothing else, this should help our language reach.

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