Fun with Library Thing
Via the Little Professor I've been led to a life of organized books. Library Thing allows users to build an online card catalogue of their holdings. I'm in the process of doing just that; it makes a good dissertation diversion and I feel like I'm accomplishing something. The "cards" Library Thing generates have room for comments and reviews. Except for not having a bibliographic export feature, it does most of the work that Endnote once did for me (you can export some data to Excel or Word but not in, say, the Chicago Manual of Style form). I can see future generations of grad students keeping track of their reading and their notes with Library Thing. Another friend of mine noted that having your own online card catalogue was also great for insurance purposes. If your library burns or is flooded, you automatically have a list of what you have to begin replacements.
Users can use the Library of Congress, Amazon.com, or a number of other catalogues to organize their books. The LOC is curiously opaque sometimes, offering only one edition of works that have multiple editions. And of course, Amazon does not have the rare stuff (I do own some things that are hard to find). Often I find myself annotating a LOC or Amazon card with things like "first edition" or "volume one only" or "reprint edition." That can be a little frustrating. For some reason both the LOC and Amazon cards for edited books are listed in my catalog as not having an author, which is also frustrating, since I place them on the shelf alphabetically as if the lead editor is the author. I would also like a place to file dissertations; I have quite a few of those and no where to list them. Maybe Library Thing could link into UMI?
What's most fun about Library Thing, though, is the community. Users can view other users' libraries and compare holdings automatically. An icon shows if your book is unique or if it is shared with another user (I now know that the Little Professor and I share seven books so far).
Here's my library, so far. I'm trying to enter a shelf a day...