- I like cataloguing, and like to have my own things organised;
- there's lots to play with (as whispersinthewilderness says I could be kept tinkering there for weeks);
- social interaction grows out of interest in books - it's not just social for the sake of it;
- it was developed by someone who's still involved (Tim Spalding) and not bought out by anyone big;
- it's large enough to generate useful user-generated tags and reviews (in contrast to most OPACs it exceeds the necessary critical mass of participants. It will be interesting to see if new BL OPAC will exceed this threshold or not).
Looking at the two example libraries, I can sort of see the use. As see Magistra notes, the CSL Library page seems to have been abandoned a couple of years ago, and is maybe a lesson it keeping things updated or getting rid of them altogether. But the Nuffield College list of new accessions look useful - there's lots of information on the profile page about what's on LibraryThing, why, and about the library more generally - though it would be interesting to know if they're also used. I've not chased up any of the libraries mentioned in the Gazette article for integrating LibraryThing tags directly into their OPACs, but that certainly sounds good in principal.
Thus far LibraryThing gets a tentative C+/B from me. Time to try it out in a more practical way; let me take you on a little journey through the last few days' experimentation with this Thing...
Experiment 1: Authority Headings, or, Looking For An Author
I tried searching for "William Shakespeare" and this is what I got (click to magnify).
(At this point, I thought I was maybe being unfair to LibraryThing, and searched a bunch of OPACs for Will Shakespeare. The results weren't always perfect, but they were a good deal better, as shown here.)
In the interests of Science, I clicked on one of LibraryThing's random typos to see what would happen. It turns out that all those "Wiliam Shakespeer"s are actually linked to one entry with correct spelling, biography, bells and assorted whistles. So LibraryThing's not a disorganised mess, it just presents itself that way...
Experiment 2: I look for a book
So, I've discovered that I can find my favourite author, even if the denizens of LibraryThing have been misspelling his or her name with wild abandon. But what about looking for one of his books? I try another search, this time for Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud (vintage sci-fi aficiandos please note - to be re-published this September). And, lo! I find a work-level (or is that expression-level? I haven't mastered FRBR yet) description page, with tags and reviews and popularity ratings, and further assorted bells and whistles. All very nice. But I'd like to know more about this book, so I click on details. Here I find out it's LC and Dewey classification numbers, subject headings and get a recap of user ratings etc. But I'm not satisfied - I'd like to know when this book was published, and by whom. Indeed, I see that it's been translated, too - can I find out more about those translations, or about the various English editions I know to have been printed?
Well... kinda. The editions page tells me that there have been more editions than I can be bothered to count from the screen, and that some of them were in languages that clearly aren't English, and that many of these have ISBNs. It also tells me how many of each copy is held by LibraryThingers. But I still haven't found a single piece of publication information about this book.
Am I missing something? Is there really no place, publisher or date of publication included? I note that there's no option to order search results by date, nor any date box on the search page. Am I the only bibliophile who's interested in publication information? If I'm not, why is it so hard to uncover from LibraryThing? Or is it something I can only find out once I've signed up? If so, not letting me know it'll be there isn't encouraging me to join. I've considered not publishing this post because I must be making some really obvious mistake (I tried searching the help wiki too, to no avail), but, well, I trust Cam23ers to be kind in enlightening me.
Answers on a postcard, please.