Friday, February 8, 2013

LibraryThing is a good thing.

In a recent post on her blog, library school grad student Sarah Derringer asked Is LibraryThing a viable database for small church libraries?

My own response is a resounding "Yes!"  LibraryThing is a free web-based cataloguing tool that I've used at my own church library.  For small-budget congregational libraries it means having a collection that is searchable via a nice-looking, flexible web catalogue, and more importantly, high-quality cataloguing information often inlcuding call numbers and subject headings for most book titles. I have even used it to efficiently print  spine and card labels for over one thousand titles in our collection

For Sarah, whose church library was using spreadsheets for a catalogue  "Library Thing, while not the dream idea for a church library database, is a step above what we currently have and has so far proven to be very helpful."

True enough, there are some minor quirks to LibraryThing, and it is designed as a library catalogue  not as a complete integrated library system for circulating material.  On the other hand, the price is right!.  LibraryThing is part of the whole social media phenomenon so it does include things like interactive affinity groups, including a Church Library group as well as member ratings for titles, a  responsive support network and fun ways to generate statistics about your collection.  I also like that the data in a LibraryThing catalogue can be exported to other databases if and when an integrated library system is purchased.

Read Sarah's post here and take her poll.

Does your congregational library use LibraryThing? 
Use the comment box to share your experience and observations


  1. Dare I mention the competition to Blogger here? My church library has about 3000 items and an assistant and I are in the midst of taking our library catalog and putting it all online via WordPress. Our Adult and Young Adult catalog is already online, but we're slowly slogging through the Children's drawers, then on to audio and video drawers. The great thing is tagging lets people search way beyond the old classification schemes. It also is like a snowball with titles eventually showing up more and more the further you get into it because the author or title card may have already been input.
    Added to that, by trying as much as possible to give subject summaries, it becomes a reader advisory tool. We've gained readers beyond our own congregation, so we hope it's also helping others find good books.
    I'm sure there will be more work possible to make it even more useful later. I've been able to put a few bibliographies online already and I hope to add things like If You Like This, You Might Also Try...

  2. Sounds very innovative Lois! I like to remember the Chinese maxim -"It does not matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice."
    Would you care to share the link to your catalogue?


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