Archive for the ‘new feature’ Category

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Introducing Syndetics Unbound

oa_logo_425w

Short Version

Today we’re going public with a new product for libraries, jointly developed by LibraryThing and ProQuest. It’s called Syndetics Unbound, and it makes library catalogs better, with catalog enrichments that provide information about each item, and jumping-off points for exploring the catalog.

To see it in action, check out the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, CT. Here are some sample links:

We’ve also got a press release and a nifty marketing site.

UPDATE: Webinars Every Week!

We’re now having weekly webinars, in which you can learn all about Syndetics Unbound, and ask us questions. Visit ProQuest’s WebEx portal to see the schedule and sign up!

Long Version

oa_sample2

The Basic Idea

Syndetics Unbound aims to make patrons happier and increase circulation. It works by enhancing discovery within your OPAC, giving patrons useful information about books, movies, music, and video games, and helping them find other things they like. This means adding elements like cover images, summaries, recommendations, series, tags, and both professional and user reviews.

In one sense, Syndetics Unbound combines products—the ProQuest product Syndetics Plus and the LibraryThing products LibraryThing for Libraries and Book Display Widgets. In a more important sense, however, it leaps forward from these products to something new, simple, and powerful. New elements were invented. Static elements have become newly dynamic. Buttons provide deep-dives into your library’s collection. And—we think—everything looks better than anything Syndetics or LibraryThing have done before! (That’s one of only two exclamation points in this blog post, so we mean it.)

Simplicity

Syndetics Unbound is a complete and unified solution, not a menu of options spread across one or even multiple vendors.

This simplicity starts with the design, which is made to look good out of the box, already configured for your OPAC and look.

The installation requirements for Syndetics Unbound are minimal. If you already have Syndetics Plus or LibraryThing for Libraries, you’re all set. If you’ve never been a customer, you only need to add a line of HTML to your OPAC, and to upload your holdings.

Although it’s simple, we didn’t neglect options. Libraries can reorder elements, or drop them entirely. We expect libraries will pick and choose, and evaluate elements according to patron needs, or feedback from our detailed usage stats. Libraries can also tweak the look and feel with custom CSS stylesheets.

And simplicity is cheap. To assemble a not-quite-equivalent bundle from ProQuest’s and LibraryThing’s separate offerings would cost far more. We want everyone who has Syndetics Unbound to have it in its full glory.

Comprehensiveness and Enrichments

Syndetics Unbound enriches your catalog with some sixteen enrichments, but the number is less important than the options they encompass. These include both professional and user-generated content, information about the item you’re looking at, and jumping-off points to explore similar items.

Quick descriptions of the enrichments:

enrichment-screenshots_0000_1-cover-images
Boilterplate covers for items without covers.

Premium Cover Service. Syndetics offers the most comprehensive cover database in existence for libraries—over 25 million full-color cover images for books, videos, DVDs, and CDs, with thousands of new covers added every week.

For Syndetics Unbound, we added boilerplate covers for items that don’t have a cover, which include the title, author, and media type.

Summaries. Over 18 million essential summaries and annotations, so patrons know what the book’s about.

About the Author. This section includes the author biography and a small shelf of other items by the author. The section is also adorned by a small author photo—a first in the catalog, although familiar elsewhere on the web.

Look Inside. Includes three previous Syndetics enrichments—first chapters or excerpts, table of contents and large-size covers—newly presented as a “peek inside the book” feature.

Series. Shows a book’s series, including reading order. If the library is missing part of the series, those covers are shown but grayed out.

You May Also Like. Provides sharp, on-the-spot readers advisory in your catalog, with the option to browse a larger world of suggestions, drawn from LibraryThing members and big-data algorithms. In this and other enrichments, Syndetics Unbound only recommends items that your library owns.

The Syndetics Unbound recommendations cover far more of your collection than any similar service. For example, statistics from the Hartford Public Library show this feature on 88% of items viewed.

Professional Reviews includes more than 5.4 million reviews from Library Journal, School Library Journal, New York Times, The Guardian, The Horn Book, BookList, BookSeller + Publisher Magazine, Choice, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus. A la carte review sources include Voice of Youth Advocates: VOYA, Doody’s Medical Reviews and Quill and Quire.

Reader Reviews includes more than 1.5 million vetted, reader reviews from LibraryThing members. It also allows patrons and librarians to add their own ratings and reviews, right in your catalog, and then showcase them on a library’s home page and social media.

Also Available As helps patrons find other available formats and versions of a title in your collection, including paper, audio, ebook, and translations.

enrichment-screenshots_0010_10-tags
Exploring the tag system

Tags rethinks LibraryThing’s celebrated tag clouds—redesigning them toward simplicity and consistency, and away from the “ransom note” look of most clouds. As data, tags are based on over 131 million tags created by LibraryThing members, and hand-vetted by our staff librarians for quality. A new exploration interface allows patrons to explore what LibraryThing calls “tag mashes”—finding books by combinations of tags—in a simple faceted way.

I’m going to be blogging about the redesign of tag clouds in the near future. Considering dozens of designs, we decided on a clean break with the past. (I expect it will get some reactions.)

Book Profile is a newly dynamic version of what Bowker has done for years—analyzing thousands of new works of fiction, short-story collections, biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs annually. Now every term is clickable, and patrons can search and browse over one million profiles.

enrichment-screenshots_0012_12-reading-level
Explore Reading Levels

Reading Level is a newly dynamic way to see and explore other books in the same age and grade range. Reading Level also includes Metametrics Lexile® Framework for Reading. Click the “more” button to get a new, super-powered reading-level explorer. This is one my favorite features! (Second and last exclamation point.)

Awards highlights the awards a title has won, and helps patrons find highly-awarded books in your collection. Includes biggies like the National Book Award and the Booker Prize, but also smaller awards like the Bram Stoker Award and Oklahoma’s Sequoyah Book Award.

Browse Shelf gives your patrons the context and serendipity of browsing a physical shelf, using your call numbers. Includes a mini shelf-browser that sits on your detail pages, and a full-screen version, launched from the detail page.

Video and Music adds summaries and other information for more than four million video and music titles including annotations, performers, track listings, release dates, genres, keywords, and themes.

Video Games provides game descriptions, ESRB ratings, star ratings, system requirements, and even screenshots.

Book Display Widgets. Finally, Syndetics Unbound isn’t limited to the catalog, but includes the LibraryThing product Book Display Widgets—virtual book displays that go on your library’s homepage, blog, LibGuides, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even in email newsletters. Display Widgets can be filled with preset content, such as popular titles, new titles, DVDs, journals, series, awards, tags, and more. Or you point them at a web page, RSS feed, or list of ISBNs, UPCs, or ISSNs. If your data is dynamic, the widget updates automatically.

Here’s a page of Book Display Widget examples.

Find out More

Made it this far? You really need to see Syndetics Unbound in action.

Check it Out. Again, here are some sample links of Syndetics Unbound at Hartford Public Library in Hartford, CT: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Faithful Place by Tana French.

Webinars. We hold webinars every Tuesday and walk you through the different elements and answer questions. To sign up for a webinar, visit this Webex page and search for “Syndetics Unbound.”

Interested in Syndetics Unbound at your library? Go here to contact a representative at ProQuest. Or read more about at the Syndetics Unbound website. Or email us at ltflsupport@librarything.com and we’ll help you find the right person or resource.

Labels: librarything for libraries, new feature, new features, new product

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

NEW: Annotations for Book Display Widgets

Our Book Display Widgets is getting adopted by more and more libraries, and we’re busy making it better and better. Last week we introduced Easy Share. This week we’re rolling out another improvement—Annotations!

Book Display Widgets is the ultimate tool for libraries to create automatic or hand-picked virtual book displays for their home page, blog, Facebook or elsewhere. Annotations allows libraries to add explanations for their picks.

Station Eleven

Some Ways to Use Annotations

1. Explain Staff Picks right on your homepage.
Column McCann
2. Let students know if a book is reserved for a particular class.
Semiotics
3. Add context for special collections displays.
Blueberries for Sal

How it Works

Check out the LibraryThing for Libraries Wiki for instructions on how to add Annotations to your Book Display Widgets. It’s pretty easy.

Interested?

Watch a quick screencast explaining Book Display Widgets and how you can use them.

Find out more about LibraryThing for Libraries and Book Display Widgets. And sign up for a free trial of either by contacting ltflsupport@librarything.com.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, new feature, new features, widgets

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

NEW: Easy Share for Book Display Widgets

LibraryThing for Libraries is pleased to announce an update to our popular Book Display Widgets.

Introducing “Easy Share.” Easy Share is a tool for putting beautiful book displays on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, email newsletters and elsewhere. It works by turning our dynamic, moving widgets into shareable images, optimized for the service you’re going to use them on.

Why would I want an image of a widget?

Dynamic widgets require JavaScript. This works great on sites you control, like a library’s blog or home page. But many sites, including some of the most important ones, don’t allow JavaScript. Easy Share bridges that gap, allowing you to post your widgets wherever a photo or other image can go—everywhere from Facebook to your email newsletters.

How do I find Easy Share?

To use Easy Share, move your cursor over a Book Display Widget. A camera icon will appear in the lower right corner of the widget. Click on that to open up the Easy Share box.

How can I share my widgets?

You can share your widget in three ways:

  1. Download. Download an image of your widget. After selecting a size, click the “down” arrow to download the image. Each image is labeled with the name of your widget, so you can find it easily on your computer. Upload this image to Facebook or wherever else you want it to go.
  2. Link. Get a link (URL) to the image. Select the size you want, then click the link icon to get a link to copy into whatever social media site you want.
  3. Dynamic. “Dynamic” images change over time, so you can place a “static” image somewhere and have it change as your collection changes. To get a dynamic image, go to the edit page for a widget. Use the link there to embed this image into your website or blog. Dynamic widgets update whenever your widget updates. Depending on users’ browser “caching” settings, changes may or may not happen immediately. But it will change over time.

You can also download or grab a link to a image of your widget from the widget edit page. Under the preview section, click “Take Screenshot.” You can see our blog post about that feature here.

Check out the LibraryThing for Libraries Wiki for more instructions.

Interested?

Find out more about LibraryThing for Libraries and Book Display Widgets. And sign up for a free trial of either by contacting ltflsupport@librarything.com.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, new feature, new features, widgets

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Publishers: How to take advantage of LibraryThing for Publishers

I’ve made a five-minute screencast explaining how publishers can join the newly-announced LibraryThing for Publishers.

Email tim@librarything.com with questions.

Labels: LibraryThing for Publishers, new feature, new features

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

CoverGuess: The game that helps people find books…

See the main blog. (Posted to the wrong blog and too many links to this to just delete it.)

Labels: book covers, new feature

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

LibraryThing for Libraries at ALA: new features and hungry rhinos

Are you ready for this?

Tim and I will be at the American Library Association’s annual conference this year. We have new, new LTFL features to show off. You can find us at booth 2857 in the exhibit hall.

1. New features! We’ll be demoing our new catalog enhancers – never before seen by librarians. We’ll post an announcement all about the new features in a day or two.

2. An art installation! Yeah, you’ll just have to wait and see it. I can’t even describe it, other than to say that it takes away ennui.

3. More rhinos! Tim and I are both flying to Chicago with an inflatable rhino in our luggage. We plan on playing “Toss the Rhino”, and perhaps if we are feeling extra daring, “Pass the Rhinos“.

(Thanks to Brixton for the masticating rhino photo. The rhino tossing one’s mine. That’s Tim and Casey putting some English on the rhino.)

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, new feature, new features, rhinos, Tim

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Category Feature Added to LTFL Reviews

We’ve added a new feature to the LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement: the ability to categorize reviews for the blog widget.

Thus far, library patrons have been able to write reviews and rate books in their library’s catalog, add their reviews to their Facebook page and even create a widget that lets them show off their reviews on blogs and websites.

Now, libraries can show off reviews written by their patrons for specific library programs. Patrons and librarians can add categories to a review. The library can then create blog widgets with said categories – keep track of reviews for the Summer Reading Program, One Book, One City and book discussion groups.

This should be helpful all year round, but the inspiration for the feature came from a librarian’s request to manage the reviews children were going to be writing for the summer reading program at their library. They wanted some way to display the reviews separately from the rest of the reviews coming in.

Anyone who’s bought the Reviews Enhancement can use this feature starting immediately. Read here for instructions how to add and use it.

If you’d like more information about LTFL, and the enhancements that can take your OPAC from Library 1.0 to Library 2.0 overnight, fill out the interest form on the LTFL page.

The Reviews Enhancement isn’t available for all OPACs – currently, it supports Horizon, iBistro, iLink, eLibrary, Webvoyage, Voyager 7, WebPac, WebPac Pro and Koha. More are coming soon!

Labels: categories, librarything for libraries, ltfl, LTFL Reviews, new feature

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

LibraryThing for Libraries adds statistics

LibraryThing for Libraries now has stats! Libraries in the program can see just where LibraryThing for Libraries is working for them, and where it’s not. You can evaluate changes, and justify it to your bosses.

To see your statistics, go to the Stats tab. Statistics include:
  • Real-world coverage numbers and percentages for each enhancement
  • Recommendation and similar books link-usage
  • Tag popup and search usage
The tab itself is basic, but we included a link to download your statistics in CSV/Excel format. Pie charts? Go crazy.
Of course, statistics are a two-edged sword for us. Although overall rates are good, some libraries aren’t getting the best results. In general, if you’re hiding your enhancements behind a tab, you can expect much lower rates.

We certainly suspect that LibraryThing enhancements are getting a lot more play than some other browse links—like LCSH subjects—or those of our competitors’, who put their enhancements on external pages. Indeed, we’re wondering if libraries would like to use LTFL’s stats structure to track other links too?

LibraryThing for Libraries Email List. We’ve set up a Google Group for LibraryThing for Libraries customers. We hope member libraries will join up. We’ve sent out invites to all the primary contacts.

Sign up to have your voice heard. We will be talking about the future of LTFL and where it should go.

Labels: librarything for libraries, ltfl, new feature, stats

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

ISBN check API

A smart young programmer from a book-related company and I were talking. It turns out that, to validate ISBNs and get back both 10- and 13-digit versions he was submitting ISBNs to Amazon Web Services. That’s like calling NORAD to find out if it’s raining.* Nor did he seem likely to hunt around for an ISBN library for Ruby. After all, what he was doing worked.

So I made a quick, very stupid API, ie. http://www.librarything.com/isbncheck.php?isbn=0765344629

  • Give it any old ISBN and it does the math to return the ISBN10 and ISBN13 forms, if both exist.
  • It removes dashes and other junk.
  • It transparently fixes missing initial zeroes. This is a common problem with data from Excel files, which turn 0765344629 into 765344629.
  • If the ISBN isn’t valid and can’t be easily fixed, it returns an error.

Don’t hit it more than 10 times/second. Otherwise, there are no usage restrictions.

*Amazon take note—I got your back, buddy!

Labels: apis, new feature

Monday, December 10th, 2007

SantaThing: Social networking goes Santa

Shameless cross-post from the main blog, but I want all my Lib 2.0 chums to come and join the new Secret Santa system, SantaThing, I cooked up last night. Secret Santa for booklovers. Can you resist?

Labels: new feature, santathing, secret santas