Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Series Gets a Revamp

series_screenshot

Short Version

Today we roll out a new version of “Series” and “Publisher Series.” Here are some pages to check out:

We’re going to be discussing New Series starting from this Talk post.

The rest of this blog post explains the whys and wherefores in great detail.

“Old” Series

Before today, series were based on the Common Knowledge system. Common Knowledge is a simple “fielded wiki,” a system for keeping and tracking simple values.(1) To add a series to a work, you’d go to the common area of a work page and fill it out as follows:

bryson

It got complex quickly. Here’s one Star Wars book, with stuff inside parentheses for sorting and labeling.

starwars

Needless to say, an entry like “Star Wars (0.0112994350|88.5-22 BBY)” was inaccessible to many. Nor could works be added to a series on the actual series page. Series didn’t extend well to other languages—unless the names coincided, there was endless duplication of effort. A lack of any sort of grouping or subseries gummed up major series with edge-cases, like the re-segmentation of the Lord of the Rings applicable to only some Japanese editions, and made it tricky for users to look at a series and figure out what to read. And while some information came to adhere to series, the whole system was jerry-rigged. Finally, adding NEW features was truly impossible!

It is testimony to the passion and diligence of LibraryThing members over the last 13 years that they have added some 125,000 “regular” series and 30,000 “publisher” series!

“New Series”

New series starts with a more sophisticated data structure and user interface. Series exist as their own, complex entity, like works and authors are, not as series of Common Knowledge “strings.” This means:

  • Adding to series can be done on either work pages or series pages. (On work pages, series have been moved to the (renamed) “Series and work relationships” section.)
  • Sorting works within series is accomplished by dragging and dropping, or by giving the series a default sort, such as by publication or title.
  • Adding labels like “book one” can be done directly, not as part of a larger formula.

Series can now include “groups.” Every series has a “core” grouping, but can also include sections for omnibus editions, short stories, or anything else that—while useful—might be worthwhile to separate out. You can see this on the Lord of the Rings page.

The more sophisticated structure allows for other innovations:

  • A single series can serve across all of LibraryThing’s languages, with different names in different languages.(2)
  • Series can be combined and, in combining, the editor can choose which elements to bring over from one series to another.
  • Series can now be “related” to each other, much as works can be related to works. For example, the Harry Potter Movies can be listed as an adaptation of the famous novels.
  • Every series-related action is separately tracked for examination by members and staff—much like Common Knowledge but with all the extra detail available once single strings were abandoned.

“New Series” has also advanced LibraryThing’s “LT2″ redesign project. In making the new pages, Chris Holland essentially worked out LT2 code and concepts, and applied them to a single page on “LT1.” He has learned a lot about how to recast LibraryThing pages without breaking everything.

Finally, series can now be touchstoned, just like authors and works! As works use single brackets, like [War and Peace], and authors use double-brackets, like [[J. K. Rowling]], series use three brackets like [[[Twilight Saga]]].

Future Plans

The near future will see:

  • Members able to follow a series, and see and receive updates when new books are released in that series.
  • “Publisher series” transformed by allowing these work-based lists to be narrowed down to the publishers and editions that pertain to them.

Can You Help?

Series needs your help! Old data needs cleaning up, and all sorts of new data needs adding.

  • We need your help finding bugs and improving existing features so they are maximally intuitive and useful.
  • We need help establishing best practices and norms for the new possibilities. For example, now that we have true series “relationships,” I favor removing adaptations from series and making them and their own series.
  • The biggest data problem is a surfeit of non-English variants. The Common Knowledge structure hid them, but members using LibraryThings other language sites, like LibraryThing.fr (French) and cat.LibraryThing.com (Catalan), created an enormous number of series too—most of them the same as the English series. They need to be combined. For example, before I combined them, the Twilight Saga also existed as “Houkutus” (Finnish), “Saga ‘Zmierzch'” (Polish), and “Crepúsculo” (Spanish).
  • The second biggest task is reviewing the “groups” within series. Omnibus editions and selections have been automatically assigned to a separate group with 95% accuracy, but other groupings have not been attempted.
  • There is a “Needs Help” / “Looks Good” control within the Edit dropdown menu. You can use this to flag the series as needing help or give approval that the series is currently in good shape.

Check It Out

Here are some links to check out!

Here are some links of interest to people who want to dig deeper:


Footnotes:

1. For more on Common Knowledge see our 2007 blog post.

2. Separate series should only be maintained if there is a difference between the series so great that combining them would mislead. This is one of those things we’ll have to hash out as a community.

Labels: common knowledge, new features, series

Monday, June 1st, 2020

June Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the June 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 71 books this month, and a grand total of 2,354 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, June 29th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and more. 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!

Black Rose Writing William Morrow Unsolicited Press
Entrada Publishing Raised Voice Press Flyaway Books
Revell Candlewick Press Walker Books US
Petra Books Soul Song Press, LLC Red Adept Publishing
West Margin Press HighBridge Audio Tantor Media
City Owl Press Prufrock Press Books by Elle, Inc
University of North Georgia Press Whitepoint Press Adelaide Books
Hoopoe Mirror World Publishing ScareStreet
Algonquin Books Zimbell House Publishing NewCon Press
Ooligan Press Bellevue Literary Press BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

TinyCat’s May Library of the Month: Canton Woods Senior Center

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

This month we highlight a center doing great things for their local senior citizens, the Canton Woods Senior Center! Here’s what Librarian Lorraine Melita—aka “Lorraine the Librarian”—had to say about their library:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Canton Woods helps seniors remain active members of their community. The official mission of Canton Woods Senior Center reads as follows: Senior citizens are a valuable community resource. Canton Woods Multipurpose Senior Center meets the challenges facing older Americans by offering stimulating social activities, education and recreation programs, nutrition, health, and other activities.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The small area that houses our collection is used as a senior writing center, a wonderful book club led by a retired English teacher, a health center for blood pressure checks, and a reading area for quiet times. The center offers seniors various exercise classes including a falls and prevention class, Tai Chi, cooking demonstrations, free band concerts, a craft club, art classes, pool, card games, Wii bowling, and many other activities.

Because the center is a municipally funded center, the library, in particular, is always looking for unique funding methods. For the past two years in the fall, several volunteers at the center have peeled apples and made many apple crisps to sell by the piece as a fundraiser for our small library. It was a great deal of work but was very successful and enjoyed by everyone who participated, especially the seniors! I also do a list of new books in our monthly newsletter and feature these books on our “new books” shelf in the library.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Our seniors are voracious readers and often love mystery novels with James Patterson, David Baldacci and Stuart Woods being some of their favorite authors.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

I find the biggest challenge to this library is technology. Three years ago, the collection was put online with the help of Syracuse University, several area grants from various donors, and LibraryThing. The technology itself works very well but the majority of our seniors are not used to looking at an online catalog for their books. Some of our readers would easily be able to use the internet to navigate our system whereas most of them like to peruse the shelves and see what’s been added to the new book shelf. I put the collection online to have the technology available and in use when more tech-savvy patrons begin using this facility. When that happens, we may begin using the lending features TinyCat offers.

Regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic, how has your library and your organization been affected? Is there anything TinyCat could be doing to meet your needs during this time?

The center has been closed to the public and our seniors since the pandemic began; however, our Director has met our loyal patrons on the front porch with a basket of books by the author they request. She takes a photo of the books, the patron’s name and number, and prints the photo for our records, all while practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. She is dedicated to our mission and our seniors!

Without our library open at this time, there isn’t much TinyCat can do to help our operations.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

I am thrilled with the recent improvement for getting statistics. That is extremely useful to me as I need to show circulation to have any increase to my meager budget.


Want to learn more about the Canton Woods Senior Center? Check out their collection on TinyCat.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Interview with Callan Bignoli About #ProtectLibraryWorkers

Callan Bignoli, Library Director at Olin College of Engineering

Callan Bignoli of #ProtectLibraryWorkers

The book world is rapidly changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. LibraryThing has been talking to people affected by these changes. For all our conversations, go here.

We interviewed Callan Bignoli (she/her/hers), Director of the Library at Olin College of Engineering, who has been organizing and advocating for the health of library workers. First through the #closethelibraries campaign to encourage hold-out library systems to close their physical doors for public and staff safety earlier this year, and now for #ProtectLibraryWorkers, advocating for a more considered approach to re-opening physical library locations, including curbside.

According to Callan, she “worked hardest on local efforts where she thought she’d be able to make the most change, and tried to supply resources to help people with organizing and power mapping to support them throughout the country.”

Callan be found on Twitter (@eminencefont) and her website.

1. What is #protectlibraryworkers and how did it come about?

#ProtectLibraryWorkers evolved from the #closethelibraries movement on Twitter when it became clear that just because a library had closed to the public did not mean that communities or library staff members were being kept safe. Curbside and home delivery, interlibrary loan, document scanning, and more were still happening at libraries, often with library assistants, pages, and student workers being put at risk while their “higher up” colleagues worked from home. In the case of libraries in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, and likely elsewhere, workers were forcibly deployed to other positions that exposed them to considerably more risk, such as emergency childcare centers and temporary shelters, with little choice in the matter other than whether or not to still get paid. Then, the wave of layoffs and furloughs began to sweep the country. #ProtectLibraryWorkers was an attempt to speak out against all of these crises and advocate for libraries-as-people, not just libraries-as-institution as we have seen our professional organizations repeatedly choose to do.
2. How can people support library workers at their local or national level?
1) Sign this petition written by members of current and past Library Freedom Institute cohorts to push for safe and fair reopening conditions. We want as many cosigners as we can get before we begin to distribute it to decision makers in individual states.
2) Figure out what is going on locally and question it. Is your local library providing curbside pickup before your state’s stay-at-home order is lifted? Ask why that’s happening and push for it to stop.
3) Continue paying attention to the local conversation and find like-minded fellow citizens to band together and prepare to push back on library budget cuts and staffing reduction.
4) Donate to EveryLibrary’s Help a Library Worker Out (HALO) fund.
3. If you could wave a magic wand and create guidelines for libraries as we go through reorienting to a new normal, what would some of those guidelines be?
Stay home for as long as possible. Don’t just close down and silo yourself off to the other departments in your school, city, or town; despite whatever competition for resources or beefs you had before, don’t feel as if you have to go this all alone. Everything is different now. Deeply and carefully consider which of your patrons are benefiting from curbside delivery, think about the amount of time and effort you’re putting into it, and think about what other outreach you might be doing to help those that aren’t benefiting. As layoffs and furloughs worsen, partner up to create mutual aid networks for library workers in your area. If you’re a director, do everything in your power to keep your staff. Communicate clearly and honestly with your people. Trust them to keep finding things to do while they’re teleworking, and ask yourself, “Does it really matter when we’re trying to save lives?” Ask that question often.
We ask all our interviewees the same final two questions:
4. How is your personal library organized?
At any given time, about 1/3 of my small collection of books are library checkouts (often from Olin’s library), so I have one shelf of those, one shelf of fiction, and one shelf of nonfiction. I tend to keep the unusual/unofficial things the longest, like self-published poetry books given to me by former patrons, a personal journal of the mid-century advertising artist Marilyn Conover that I found in a used bookstore in Gloucester, the Shutterfly book my old boss gave me of the library we renovated together, that kind of stuff.
5. What have you read lately? What do you recommend?
I’m currently in the last section of Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy which probably makes me seem like I’m behind the curve, but honestly when I was in public library administration, I didn’t read much of anything–so I’m still catching up now! I’d say the biggest takeaways for me personally have been 1) the understanding that movements can and should take many forms and that we shouldn’t necessarily lump things under the same big umbrellas, 2) the acknowledgment that lasting change is long, slow, and hard work, which isn’t something that naturally “comes” to me, and 3) the importance and strength of consensus decision making, and, relatedly, putting explicit trust in others. I’d recommend it to anyone doing work in social justice or advocacy movements, and really any kind of leaders or managers as well.

 

Labels: interview, Uncategorized

Monday, May 4th, 2020

May Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the May 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 83 books this month, and a grand total of 2,997 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, May 25th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and more. 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!

Entrada Publishing Revell Ballantine Books
Black Rose Writing City Owl Press Hoopoe
Books by Elle, Inc William Morrow New Vessel Press
Prufrock Press Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Tantor Media
HighBridge Audio Small Beer Press Algonquin Books
Crystal Peake Publisher CarTech Books ScareStreet
Zimbell House Publishing Chipper Press Bellevue Literary Press
Candlewick Press Walker Books US Real Nice Books
Petra Books ClydeBank Media Odyssey Books
Open Books NewCon Press Tiny Fox Press
Poolbeg Press Ooligan Press BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Interview with Tom Holbrook of RiverRun Bookstore

Independent bookstores are struggling right now. We are eager to talk to booksellers about what’s going on, how they are dealing with this ongoing crisis, and ways we can help. We talked with Tom Holbrook of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH.

How has River Run been managing the Coronavirus?

Like all retail in New Hampshire, our sales floor is closed to the public, but we can do curbside pickup. As a result, we are fielding phone calls and emails all day long. In addition to curbside pickup we are delivering books to Portsmouth and Kittery, and mailing books anywhere in the US. It’s a lot of work—a lot!—but at least we have work to do and it is keeping the store in people’s minds.

How can people help you out, or help out their local indie?

Our customers have been amazing, and our online friends have been great as well. Our online ordering site usually gets a few orders a week. Since this started we’ve been getting 10–12 a day. That’s really the best way for people to help us out – buy a book from our website. It’s good for us, and good for them! It’s my hope that we are winning people away from Amazon during this time, and will be able to keep them as loyal customers. We also launched a great t-shirt online to promote reading and social distancing, and hit our goal of 100 shirts in 4 days. Our offer runs through April 30, so it’s not too late to get one!

Tell us about your home library—what’s in it? How is it organized?

At home, I don’t have as many books as people imagine, because I just borrow them from the store (shh!), but I keep them in a yellow room with bookshelves along the wall. One case is full of my favorite books that I want to keep and share, the other 3 cases are full of books I haven’t got to quite yet!

What are you reading now?

Currently I am reading Night Boat to Tangier (RiverRun | LibraryThing) by Kevin Barry, which has definite Joyce overtones in its dialogue and flow. Rereading Once & Future (RiverRun | LibraryThing) by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta. Best YA I read last year, and the sequel just dropped so I need a refresher. My 11yo daughter and I are working our way through the Wells and Wong mystery series (RiverRun | LibraryThing), and we both love it.

Thanks to everyone who supports indie bookstores!

See all bookstore interviews hereDo you run an independent bookstore and would like to be featured in our blog? Please reach out.

Labels: bookstores, interview

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

National Library Week: LT Staff’s Favorite Libraries

“Mechanics
It’s National Library Week in the USA! To celebrate, LibraryThing staff chose our favorite libraries to share with you. The theme this year for National Library Week is “Find Your Place At the Library,” as all of us have done so in our lives. Our list encompasses specific public library branches to our first college circulation assistant jobs—all the way to the reading room in Library of Congress!

Did you know you can add your favorite libraries to your LibraryThing profile through LibraryThing Local? Just log in, search for your library, and you can add it to your favorites list, mark yourself as having visited, or check-in.

Happy National Library Week!

 
 
 
 
 
 
“library

Tim

The Library of Congress – Washington, DC

I love research libraries and lived in them for much of my teens and twenties. When I was at Georgetown this meant the LC, arguably the greatest research library in the world. I owe so much of how I think and who I am to that glorious reading room, and to the efficient staff who deposited pile after pile of books on my table.

 

 

“Mount holyoke College Library

Abby

Mount Holyoke College Library – South Hadley, MA

This library, with its impressive reading room, is one of the reasons I ended up going to library school. I wrote my undergrad thesis in my carrel in the stacks, worked in the archives, and generally lived there for 4 years.

Honorable mention: Cambridge Public Library

 

 

 

“SCL

Kate

St. Louis County Library – Grant’s View Branch – St. Louis, MO

This newly-renovated branch of the SLCL system opened just in time for my kids’ introduction to public libraries. We have visited nearly every weekend since my son could walk (he’s now 5), and we can’t wait to get back after quarantine.

Honorable mention: Austin Public Library – Central Library

“Salt

Chris H

The Salt Lake City – Central Library – Salt Lake City, UT

Beautiful architecture with a soaring atrium greets you as you enter the building. Being in the lively downtown area of SLC, the lower section of the atrium is home to commercial entities like coffee shops and hairdressers, much like a mall. But the children’s area is the place where I spent most of my time. It is a world of wonder with creative reading areas like the treehouse room that lets kids climb and get away to find their own private nook to read and colorful, open-air concept for the main shelf areas. It’s a place where kids feel at home and aren’t intimidated by the idea of a stodgy, quiet library experience.

 

“Pratt

Chris C

Enoch Pratt Free Library – Central Branch – Baltimore, MD

I spent many an hour in the Children’s Section in elementary school and I can still conjure up the distinct smell of the place.

 

“MechanicsKristi

Mechanics’ Hall Library – Portland, ME

I had the pleasure of visiting this gorgeous little library while meeting with Librarian Pat to help set up their LibraryThing catalog. One of the few remaining membership libraries still lending, it lives in the historic Mechanics’ Hall, with over 30k volumes of arts/trades works but also a sizable fiction section.

 

 

“Smith

KJ

Josten Performing Arts Library of Smith College – Northampton, MA

This was my college library job, and I have extremely fond memories of the muted squashy purple carpet of it all, as well as learning to shelf-read ca. 19th-century orchestral scores in Cutter, a former Dewey Decimal System competitor that is still extant at a few libraries and the base for the LoC system.

Honorable Mention: Skidompha Public Library

 

 

“évora

Pedro

Biblioteca Pública de Évora - Largo Conde de Vila Flor, Portugal

Founded in 1805, it’s in a beautiful building with a huge collection.

Labels: national library week

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

TinyCat Turns Four

Happy Fourth Birthday to TinyCat!

To celebrate our birthday, we’ve brought you new features and improvements, a short feedback survey with a chance to win a free year’s subscription to TinyCat, and a Store sale so you can stock up on library supplies.

New Features and Improvements

It’s our birthday and we want to celebrate! That’s why we have a slew of new features and upgrades for you. However, we want to acknowledge that not everything is cake and balloons right now, and we send well-wishes to our TinyCat members in this time of uncertainty. But it’s still our birthday and we do want to give you presents, so here we go.

LibraryThing developed TinyCat to be the leading professional, easy-to-use online catalog for small libraries that also didn’t break the budget. We’re proud to say that over four years and over 1,300 subscribers later, we’re still committed to providing the best and most affordable service out there for libraries looking to manage their collections and lending online.

We hope you enjoy the latest features and improvements that we’ve added (with Tiny Tutorials coming soon!) as our thanks to you:

Extend all due dates feature

“Extend all due dates” Feature

With the entire world currently in a social distancing state of life and libraries temporarily shuttered, we’ve added the ability for you to extend all due dates within your Active Transactions.

Clear Starred Lists

For visitors and patrons wanting to create multiple Starred Lists within TinyCat, we’ve now added a button to clear each list as needed, rather than waiting for a new browser session to do so.

Learn more about Starred Lists in our Tiny Tutorial here.

ICYMI: Transactions Reports

From the “Reports” page in the TinyCat Admin portal, you can now download automated checkout and patron reports from your lending history. You can filter by start and/or end dates, too, so you can look at a specific time frame when weeding the stacks, preparing reports for the budget, and more.

Patron Email Reminders for Checkouts

When you’re ready to return to your regular operations, you can have TinyCat send up to one checkout reminder email and up to three overdue emails to your patrons, making it easier to keep your collections intact.

Set your preferences from Circulation Settings.

Patron Notifications Expanded

All patrons will now get confirmation emails for every lending Transaction, including when they return an item and when an admin checks a book out to them.

Patron URLs Added to Notifications

Transaction notifications emailed to admins now include a direct link to the patron’s account, so you can quickly access more information for each patron as needed.

TinyCat Library Survey: Win a Free Year of TinyCat!

We want your feedback! So we can continue providing you with the best online catalog for your needs, please take a few minutes to fill out our survey and let us know what you think of TinyCat and how we can improve the service. And yes, we want to know how COVID-19 is affecting your operations, too. We’ll pick one library at random to receive a free year’s subscription to TinyCat as thanks for your time.

Take the survey here: https://forms.gle/Gi7bBwAysiWCZ7QC7.

LibraryThing Store Sale

With TinyCat’s birthday comes our major Store sale, now through the end of May.

Stock up on all CueCat barcode scanners for just $5 apiece and barcode labels—$5 for the first packet and $4 thereafter—for your library.

Head over to the LibraryThing Store: https://www.librarything.com/more/store.


Thanks for another successful year, libraries! Stay safe, stay strong, and read some books.

Labels: birthday, TinyCat

Monday, April 6th, 2020

April Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the April 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 77 books this month, and a grand total of 2,673 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, April 27th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and more. 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!

Unsolicited Press William Morrow Kaylie Jones Books
Akashic Books Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Revell
Candlewick Press Petra Books Random House
Black Rose Writing Entrada Publishing TouchPoint Press
CarTech Books University of Nebraska Press Red Adept Publishing
Tiny Fox Press The Marked, LLC Prufrock Press
Gibson House Press Heritage Books HighBridge Audio
Tantor Media Regal House Publishing Plum White Press
Vesuvian Books Henry Holt and Company Hot Tree Publishing
Books by Elle, Inc Odyssey Books Poolbeg Press
Zimbell House Publishing InterCultural Connect Books Book Publicity Services
Meerkat Press Graphic Arts Books ClydeBank Media
City Owl Press Sparkling Books Literary Wanderlust LLC
BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, March 27th, 2020

TinyCat’s March Library of the Month: The Sitting Room Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring the library of the Sitting Room!

Karen Peterson, Librarian and co-founder of the Sitting Room with J.J. Wilson, fielded my questions this month:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Sitting Room provides the local community with a library and reading room for researching women’s literature, art and related issues. To that end, we present cultural events such as poetry readings, lectures, exhibits, and performances, and we provide a place for writers’ workshops and other educational activities. The building and cataloguing of an extensive collection of reading and research material and the development of a supportive, friendly, non-intimidating environment for study are thus primary.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

The Sitting Room is within walking distance of Sonoma State University and we are fortunate to have regular student interns work with us. We have also served as a residency for students in the online Masters of Library Science program at San José State University. Northern California is home to an abundance of writers and artists and our public events provide a space for them to share their work. All special events are free and open to all, no membership needed or gender excluded. The free monthly book groups and writing workshops are open to all and provide a unique emphasis on women’s voices and visions.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have a fabulous 1,000-volume collection of poetry filling an entire wall. Many of these are chapbooks by local as well as nationally renowned women poets. The chapbook collection of over 400 has the droll name “Spineless Wonders.”

One of the founders of The Sitting Room, J.J. Wilson, is a Virginia Woolf scholar. Over the course of her research and teaching, she amassed an amazing collection of Woolf’s writing and critical works, and creative works and history of the Bloomsbury Group.

Our International Fiction collection provides excellent opportunities to experience how women writers view and experience their native countries. Historical and contemporary perspectives from a wide range of countries are represented. With over 600 volumes, and some hard to find translations, it is a great browsing collection, either in person or online through TinyCat.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

The Sitting Room is located in a lovely home surrounded by redwood trees. We have a kitchen! And all are welcome to brew a cup of tea or join us for lunch. The domestic setting suits the collection and while visitors are at first a bit bemused to find us in a residential neighborhood, they quickly make themselves at home.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

First of all, TinyCat is quite simply visually appealing. We love the parade of book jackets that adorn the simple search page, announcing recently cataloged items. The design draws people in: it is inviting, not intimidating.

Some items are on our implementation wish list:

  • We would love to be able to curate the animated cover display on the home page.
  • We don’t use the circulation module of TinyCat, but would love to generate some usage statistics.

Great suggestions. Customizing the cover display is on our list of requests, and you can add your own Google Analytics to your TinyCat via the custom JavaScript setting on your Content Settings page. Hope this helps!


Want to learn more about the Sitting Room? Follow them on Facebook, visit their website here, and check out their collection on TinyCat.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat