Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Look at me, eating my words

I might not like LibraryThing for a range of what I consider to be good, librarianly, search-and-organisation based reasons, but it isn't 'alf addictive. And useful - the different default collections, including 'wishlist' and 'read but unowned' neatly solve two problems: I don't really like keeping a wishlist on Amazon (I have pinko-liberal lentil-knitting views about what Amazon has done to local bookshops) and I like to keep a record of what I've read in libraries but am bad at doing so on paper (the notebook is never nearby when I want it). This new-found addiction is also driven in no small part by seeing what recommendations will appear when the collection is broader - at the moment a lot of suggested works are just further books in series that I already part own.

So without really meaning too, I'm up to 70-ish books now, and just by thinking about what I've got lying around at home. A methodical assault on the shelves might lead to the purchase of a life account. Not a lot to do with work in libraries, and a big ol' drain on my time. Oops.

Covers of my books on LibraryThing

Edited to add: I've just found the 'Local' tab, and it turns out that there's already an entry for the library in which I work. We've got some events coming up (as part of Open Cambridge), so I've added those. Every little publicity helps.


  1. I know exactly what your mean. I became obsessed with Librarything - the ability to tag etc. shows me up for a methodical librarian as I then want all my tags to have a uniform pattern. This leads to a personal establishment of an authorised way of representing something (e.g. Historical Fiction, not Historical Novel.) Then I'll change my mind as I add more books as new ideas which fit the subject better come into my head (and retrospec 'cataloguing' with new tags follows.) Whilst sometimes I am frustrated with the semantic rigidity of LCSH, it shows why we need some form of structure if we are to ever catalogue anything uniformly and move forward! The wisdom of the crowd is an interesting concept but I think it must be used alongside an authorised vocabulary.

  2. Ooh, yes, I know all about compulsive tag-revising. I haven't found a way to do batch tag editing on LibraryThing (as you can do on, say, Blogger and Delicious (and possibly Flickr, too)) - is there a button I'm missing?

  3. Hmm, I joined Librarything quite a while ago after a friend of my mum's (fairly advanced in years) had boasted that she had just finished reading her 1000th book. Recording what I've read (and want to read) is so useful, especially as my memory is not so great. I'm nearly at 300 books and as I'm in my early thirties maybe I stand a chance of reaching 1000 books before I die!

    The next step is to join the group 'librarians who librarything'... and then you'll know you're really addicted!

  4. Interesting that you felt you ought to like LibraryThing, and went back and played until you did warm to it. Must do the same instead of condemning out of hand! Often your way of investigating the tools we've been trying has pointed out further options which the to-the-point-of-expediency people like me have benefitted from. Yes, Geeks rule the world! [Geek = high complement in my book]
    By the way, love the clever apt quotes for headers too. Absolutely spot on. But please don't tell us you are casually retrieving them from memory. Hope you're going to fit in 'If we shadows..', a fave speech. Alas I cannot seem to find on Google "Look at me, eating my words" Does Theseus say it during the repast or is it Hermia's dad?

  5. I'm glad I'm been helpful, though I'm not sure I've climbed to the heights of geekdom yet!

    I'm glad you're enjoying the quotations. It's getting harder and harder to find them... 'Look at me, eating my words' is, of course, no quotation at all, as it's a sort of supplementary Thing post (that's my justification, anyway). 'If we shadows' will have to be for the last 23 Things post, I think. I probably ought to check through for my favourites about now, and make sure I shoe-horn them into the last few things. Not sure I can include all the mechanicals play though, much as I'd like to!

    And definitely not from memory - all taken from here:

  6. @Tixylix Yes - LibraryThing is so useful for remembering what it is you've read, especially if, like me, lots of those books are borrowed from libraries, or are bought second hand and then given away again, and therefore leave no trail on the book shelves!