Posted tagged ‘Librarything’


April 23, 2009

There’s nothing I could say today that could possible top this bit from Tim Spalding today:

Somehow institutions dedicated to the idea that knowledge should be freely available to all have come to the conclusion that knowledge about knowledge—book data—should not, and traditional library mottos like Boston‘s “Free to All” and Philadelphia‘s Liber Libere Omnibus (“Free books for all!”) given way to:

“No part of any Data provided in any form by WorldCat may be used, disclosed, reproduced, transferred or transmitted in any form without the prior written consent of OCLC except as expressly permitted hereunder.”

You can (and should) read the rest of the post here, it’s equally brilliant.

Another Blow

February 23, 2009

I’m not really here right now, but still had to post the ARL’s official critique of the OCLC records use policy.  As Tim Spalding comments, it’s really good and it shows that there are some major research institutions willing to come out against OCLC.

Shoutout to a Twitter Buddy

February 19, 2009

The networking powers of web 2.0 don’t get talked about nearly as often as many of the techonology’s other benefits to the library world, but that’s definitely my favorite part.  Without I never would have started talking to my newfound Twitter friend @neiljohnford, who I met on a forum in Librarything, and convinced to join Twitter (much to his regret).

Now he’s got a very nice post up about his experience with his first month using the service, with a focus on the professional pros and cons.

On a seperate note, I’m going out of town for a few days so I’ll probably be a few posts short here.  Back next week.

The Long Weekend

February 17, 2009

I really hate coming back to work after a holiday weekend.  The day’s over and I still feel jetlagged.  And it didn’t help that today proved to be pretty eventful.

I got to start by running my first workshop on LibraryThing, which I loved.  I managed to get a nice mix of staff and patrons for it who seemed to be pretty engaged by the material.  I particularly like that the group really did seem to grasp the site’s potential, I even got to go off on a tangent on the OSC project.

Then while cleaning up the consortia’s server died.  Meanwhile, we were swamped with an extra day’s worth of patrons and deliveries.  Oh and pretty sizeably number of our desk staff were out sick.  And to top it off we had a planning committee meeting scheduled too.

Tomorrow, another meeting.  God I’m tired.

Authority Control Comes to LibraryThing

February 9, 2009

LibraryThing has been strugling with the issue of authority control for a while.  But now they’ve come up with a solution, one that differs greatly from the rest of the library world.  The way it works in libraries for authors is to keep adding extraneous data onto a given author’s name until it becomes unique.  Sometimes a middle initial is enough, but in many case birth and death dates are required.

But that’s a method that entails a cumbersome amount of research at times and can still result in confusing records if there are too many John Smith’s to dig through.  The alternative at LibraryThing is to allow users to break up the titles under and author as they see fit.  Thus instead of Smith, John A. and Smith, John B., you’ll have John Smith who wrote books A and B but not book C.

Yes, this system is problematic, but I’m not sure it’s any more confusing or error prone than what libraries are doing and there’s no need to conduct any sort of genealogical research.  I’m real curious to see how it’ll work out.


February 2, 2009

I realize this site is rapidly decending into being nothing more than Tim Spalding fan service, but I can’t help it if the man’s opinions tend to mirror my own.  His latest blog post is a bit on libraries, social networks, and homophily.  The post is in direct response to a Guardian article

The relevant bit is that library catalogs can contribute to this problem, and I’m going to extend that to the physical layout of our collections as well.  Very few patrons like to browse anymore.  By and large people expect to be able to come in, find the one book/subject they’re interested in, grab the relevant title and walk out.  To use Tim’s word, this system removes serendipity from the process.

Our catalog is designed to cater this behavior, and there are plenty of librarians out there taking the next step.  This is one of the reasons special collections can tick me off.  There are certainly reasons why a few of them (local interest) can be a good idea, but much of the time it just limits browsing further and ensures that some of your mid-list titles (or those that defy easy catagorization) will never be discovered.

Back from the Dead

January 21, 2009

So there’s movement on the Open Shelves Classification front again, lots of it.  In fact over the course of the last day the total number of posts on the forum has doubled.

The first round of testing has begun on the proposed top level catagories.  So anyone that would like to help, click on a random book, and place it into the category you think it belongs in at the bottom of the page.  The resulting data will be an enormous help to the project.

Year In Review: Everything Else

December 16, 2008

1) American Electorate

Finally we do something right (for the most part, I’m looking at you California) in a national election.

2) Tim Spalding

My new idol, both due to the amazing creation that is LibraryThing and the critical eye he has turned on the library profession.  Now if only more people will listen.

3) Valve

The makers of Portal, Half Life, Team Fortress and my latest addiction, Left 4 Dead are doing more for good for video games than anyone at the moment.  In terms of writing, design, gameplay, and just plain fun there is no one better.  Just a shame that their Meet the Sandvich video didn’t quite live up to their hopes.

4) DC’s Collected Editions Program

DC may have stumbled recently with their modern publishing plans, but they still have the best reprint program in comics.  This last year saw the beautifully recollored Absolute Sandman, deluxe editions of all of Jack Kirby’s 70’s work, new hardcovers for Ex Machina, Y the Last Man, and the Grant Morrison JLA.  The highlight though is still their amazing showcase presents line, which along with volumes of their mainstays, has featured many of  DC’s more obscure comics that couldn’t support a volume in a pricier format.

5) Nick Cave

Dig!Lazarus!Dig! was yet another great album from one of the most unique voices in modern rock.  During this year at least he’s the one person whose music was never missing from my playlists.

6) John Oliver

The Daily Show/Colbert Report are still the best shows on tv (after maybe Doctor Who).  But the strongest element of them have been John Oliver’s regular reports.  The British triumph over us Americans yet again.

7) Rickrolling

The meme of the year, not much else to say really.

8) Rock Band 2

The winner of the music platform war this year to my mind.  Guitar Hero was about the challenge, but Rock Band was all about the music and the fun, making for an easy win.


Still the best webcomic.

10) Mario

Nintendo keeps the hits coming with Super Smash Brothers and Super Mario Kart.  On top of Super Mario Galaxy last year Nintendo is still doing right by their biggest franchise.

The Current State of Tech Services on the Web

December 3, 2008

Well, it’s come at last.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading out the WMRLS for my first ever workshop, and will finally be able to put into use the links page in the right hand column.  In preparation I’ve spent a lot of time lately exploring the online technical services world, and over all it’s not very good.

There are almost no decent sites out there for the profession.  The Library of Congress’s cataloging and acquistions department is a notable exception, but besides that sites are largly poorly designed, out of date, or are just repositories for powerpoint presentations.  

The only real signs of life online are on the autocat list, the librarians for librarything forum, and across the blogosphere.  At least those resources are quite extensive and provide a great means of staying current, but they’re awful for getting up to speed.

So tomorrow should be interesting.  I’ve always thought that we need to spend more time focusing on life outside the field, which I guess is now going to become part of a theme for my talk.

But I’m still open to having people prove me wrong.  Find some more sites and let me know.