Monday, 19 July 2010

Thing 15: "What dreadful dole is here!"

Copies of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery in several languages
So, the end of my last post saw me confused and infuriated by a LibraryThing that didn't really live up to my expectations.  But whispersinthewilderness has reassured me that I can get full book information when I have an account, and in compliance with the 23 Things instructions I've signed myself up.

Adding books (even after photographing my most difficult bookshelf and cataloguing it remotely without dates or ISBNs) is easy enough, although I'd still like to be able to limit searches and filter results by date.  Some of the more obscure things I own were found successfully, even my most favourite book ever, a German translation of a Mexican novel that I bought for a few Marks from a stand outside a corner bookshop in a suburb of Bonn one rainy November lunchtime in 2001 (oh, happy days!). I did have to search a number of German library catalogues to find it, and it turns out that I'm the only LibraryThinger to have it, so I hope everyone's impressed with my rechech√© tastes!

Weirdly, it's not possible to add a book to your own library from its page in LibraryThing - when you click on the 'add to my library' link you have to choose a databse to search for it.  But for obscure things, it's hard to know which database to choose, and for ephemera it can be necessary to add the details from scratch. So adding it can take ages, even when other people have already clearly got it.  I don't really understand why a new entry can't just be linked to what's already there. So some of my collection of comic strip pamphlets haven't made it on because I'm too lazy.  This is a shame - it's for the really obscure things that I think it would be most fun to connect with other readers.

I've added an arbitrary selection of 36 books from my shelves, including my small collection of Little Princes, but I'm not sure I'll ever keep this up, either for new acquisitons or retrospectively.  For the nosey, here's a widget of my shelves:


Overall, I can see that there's a lot of good in LibraryThing, for libraries and librarians, library users and book lovers.  But I'm not sure that it and I can overcome our rocky start together.

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