Wednesday, July 30, 2008

LibraryThing, GoodReads, Shelfari: Social Networking around Books

Why Social Networking? Why Books?

People love to talk about books – recommendations are important

  • Proof once again – that people love books and still read
  • Geography is not a barrier
  • Connecting with people who have the same or similar titles
  • Long tail of certain titles
  • Tagging – user generated, diverse viewpoints
  • Member reviews – honest, straight-forward
  • Connecting with authors – positive for authors as well as for readers
  • Support and discussion – author mentoring (GoodReads), topical discussion (LibraryThing)
  • Publishers can connect directly with readers

LibraryThing Basics

  • Public library thing for all users (
  • LT for Libraries (a product) -
  • 459,380 users, 29,405,040 books cataloged, 3,460,217 unique works (7.21.08)
    For everyone:
  • Free for 1st 200 books, $10 for 1 year, $25 for a lifetime
  • Started in 2005
  • Catalog books (using Amazon, Library of Congress or 690 world wide sources)
  • Tag titles, star rating, reviews
  • Profile page – basic info, blogs, interests
  • Comments – private and public
  • Tag interesting libraries, make LT friends, connect with authors in your library
  • Early Review Opportunities
  • Discussion groups
  • Suggestions and unsuggestions
  • Blog and Facebook widgets
  • International (French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian) sites

What LibraryThing for Libraries Brings to the Catalog


  • Free – no fees but there is advertising on pages
  • Started in 2006
  • Daily digest email from friends (can disable)
  • Create bookshelves – currently reading, read – and user created
  • Star rating and review screen
  • Group activity – author lead
  • More geared toward social networking – connecting with people around books
  • Graphics are refined
  • Blog and Facebook widgets

From Otis Chandler, the founder and CEO of GoodReads:

"Thank you so much for the opportunity [to share with librarians]! may want to mention that Libraries can submit their catalogue as a 'find at' link for Goodreads members to easily look up books via ISBN/title.

To submit a link, go to any book detail page, then click "more..." to the right of the 'find at' links, then click 'create a new link'.


  • Dubs itself – the premiere social networking site for books and readers.
  • Amazon has bought a stake in the company in Feb. 07 (also based in Seattle)
  • Focused on the social aspect
  • Group discussions, author pages
  • Graphics are even more refined
  • Launched in October 2006
  • Blog, Facebook and MySpace widgets

Things to consider

  • Pick one and stick with it (basically)
  • Import data using CSV from one to the other (not perfect)
  • Barcode readers can make adding to the collection even easier
  • Occasional spam
  • Makes the TBR pile even taller
  • Something else to manage
  • If using with patrons – dedicated user

Coming down the pike

  • Visual bookshelf – Facebook application
  • Amazon – discussions, tags, recommendations
  • Ning – User created groups
  • or PaperBackSwap – book trading sites with some tagging, reviews, and rating
  • – A personal lifetime list of books read
  • RevishEncourages lengthy reviews
  • WorldCat – My WorldCat
  • GoogleBooks -- create profile, add books, integration with WorldCat

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Flickr and Roundtable summary

Flickr is a photo sharing website with tagging capabilities. To register, you just need a free Yahoo account. There are some storage and uploading limitations with the free account, but you can upgrade to a Pro account for only $25/year. See this help page for a more detailed comparison of the two types of accounts. Institutions can sign up the same way as individuals.

Libraries are using Flickr for virtual library tours and tutorials, promoting events, networking for marketing and other ideas (see the Libraries and Librarians group). Since many of the pictures have a Creative Commons license, you can also search for images to use in marketing tools and on websites. In our groups, we also talked about using the site to get help in tagging archival photos, and for marketing your digital archives by funneling people through Flickr to another site.

For more ideas, see the following resources;

Tutorials; is a social bookmarking site. As one person at the table mentioned, you can get there from, which means you don't have to remember where the dots are! . At its most basic, it is a way to keep all your favorite sites (bookmarks) in a web format so that they can be accessed from any computer. Beyond that, allows for sharing web resources with co-workers or other groups, and exploring favorite websites of other users. Bookmarks can be easily exported from your current browser to this online account, and you can tag them with metadata for easy retrieval.

RSS feeds can be set up to export all of your tags onto a blog or website, or straight into an online classroom. Feeds could also be set up to identify new items in a particular subject, or to follow a new technology/trend. Also look at recent and popular websites, and user's notes about a particular website. Make sure to set up the browser buttons for making easy additions without interrupting your workflow. The settings page (which you can access when you are logged in) contains most of the details about how to do things, or see the tutorials below.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Blogs and wikis Roundtable wrapup

In addition to the resources I discussed at the RoundTable Wednesday, several other good applications of blogs and wikis in libraries were mentioned. Here are just some of them, and if I'm leaving any out (I was writing a lot down!) please post them in the comments.

*Librarian's Guide to Guilford County

*Booklover's Blog: readers advisory from the staff of the Greensboro Public Library

*Mint Wiki (The Mint Museum Library)

Non-specific examples included using a wiki to edit policy documents, an internal professional development blog (with required posts by librarians after returning from conferences), a lunch and literature blog, a wiki for a staff manual/job descriptions, consumer health topics wiki at a hospital library, best practices staff wiki.

Some of the other salient discussion points:

*Interesting discussions about "tech timidity." In some environments, the librarians are the tech-timid. But more and more frequently, the librarians are actually the advanced users, and our patrons are the tech-timid.

*Blogs and wikis are seeing more and more use by librarians, but generating user feedback or content is difficult. Promotion may help, but probably you just need the right sort of project that really gets people participating. In general, you can't expect users to be as enthusiastic about creating content as you.

*Many had concerns about security (spam posts or comments in a blog; vandalized wikis). Modern blog and wiki software has ways to combat this and it's less of a problem than it might seem, but it's not negligible.

*Privacy concerns - having this content be public raises issues with privacy. Is it fair to require students to reply to a blog post, when this puts information online? This has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Some communication needs outweigh the privacy needs, sometimes a blog or wiki is indeed not appropriate.

*Many questions about platforms. People mentioned support for Blogger and Typepad, PBWiki and WikiSpaces. But there are many other platforms available.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

RSS & News Feeds: Summary for Web 2.0 Roundtable

Hello NC-SLA Web 2.0 Roundtable Participants,

Here are links to a few websites forming the basis of our discussion on RSS and News Feeds:

Video: RSS in Plain English, produced by Common Craft.
This short movie explains how RSS feeds can save you time and how to set up an account. An excellent overview for the new user.

This is my preferred RSS reader. It's web-based, so you can access it on any computer- and it's optimized for the iPhone!

What happens when you come across a website that doesn't publish an RSS feed? Page2RSS works behind the scenes and captures any changes made to the website for you. These changes arrive in your RSS reader just like a usual new RSS post.

Google News: The awesome thing about Google News (Yahoo News too) is that you can create a custom keyword alert -and RSS feed- on any word! Now the headlines are delivered directly to you.

These links represent just a few examples of how RSS makes keeping up with current events very easy. I look forward to learning about more resources at the roundtable. -Erin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blogs and Wikis

Since this is a blog, and I'm coordinating discussions on blogs, I guess I should share what I'm going to cover! Well, that's misleading since I'm not "covering" these things so much as citing them as examples of what people are doing in the library and academic worlds with blogs and wikis.

  • NC State University WolfBlogs service. We host a blogging service at the NCSU Libraries for anyone to use. Instructors can use them to promote discussion or post class information. Staff can use them to post news or events. Students and faculty also keep personal blogs.
  • NC State University WolfWikis service. We also host a wiki platform for any campus use. The biggest users are instructors for courses, and librarians for various uses.
  • PAMS Reference Wiki. Part of the WolfWikis service. I've developed a compendium of subject guides, help pages, and instructional handouts onto one wiki, aimed at library users in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS). A similar/inspiration example is the Ohio University Libraries' Biz Wiki.
  • UsefulChem Wiki. "Open source science" project led by the Bradley Laboratory at Drexel University. All experimental results and discussions are posted online, both for project staff and the public.
  • UsefulChem Blog. Part of the UsefulChem project, for reporting news, generating discussions, and pointing out resources.
These are just a few examples we can talk about. What are their strengths? Weaknesses? Good for any audience, or just a limited one? Easy to set up? Easy to use?

I look forward to discussing these questions and hearing about other examples from Roundtable attendees.