LibraryThing was not covered in Oxford's original "23 Things"programme. However, there will be opportunities to work on LibraryThing during the Summer Camp.

What is LibraryThing?

LibraryThing is a social cataloguing tool. It allows you to create a catalogue of books within LibraryThing and to share reviews, ratings and tags with other LibraryThing users.

You can use LibraryThing to catalogue and share information about your personal collection of books or you can start an institutional account to share your Library collections. Some Libraries have added their whole collection to LibraryThing whereas others have just added particular collections or their recent accessions.

LibraryThing allows institutions to add 200 books for free: and you can delete books and add more as you go along, so if you only want to use LibraryThing for accessions you could get away with a free account. If you want to add more you will have to pay a yearly subscription of $10 which will allow you to add 5000 titles with the option of seeking permission to go up to 10,000 titles. See "Organizational Account" on LibraryThing" for more information.

Some advantages of using LibraryThing as a Library:

  • Provides an alternative way to promote your new accessions or collections using a attractive interface with social features
  • Readers can explore your books on LibraryThing in a variety of ways including browsing by tags, author, title and date
  • LibraryThing generates an RSS feed of newly added titles so your readers can keep up to date with new items
  • LibraryThing widgets allow you to display newly added titles on your web page, blog, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Your readers can benefit from tags, reviews and recommendations added by you or other members of LibraryThing
  • You can set up special interest groups to discuss and share information about books. For example Linacre College Library set up a book club on LibraryThing

To find out how Oxford Libraries are using LibraryThing look check out the "Oxford Case Studies" section of the Oxford Libraries web 2.0 wiki.

What is LibraryThing for Libraries?

Confusinging LibraryThing for Libraries has nothing to do with putting your Library Collections on to LibraryThing.

Librarything for Libraries is a venture that allows Libraries to pull social data such as tags and reviews from LibraryThing into their OPAC. THe SOLO+ team is currently considering using some elements of LibraryThing for Libraries in the future - this is not covered in this post.

Setting up LibraryThing

  1. Go to http: // and choose "Join Now". The sign up procedure is quite simple - choose "Institutional" for a Library account.
  2. Your users will be able to access two pages: your profile page and your catalogue pag


Your profile page includes all the usual information (email addresses, "about me", "about my library" etc). When you are setting up your profile, look out for the links on the right (easy to miss) which allow you to:

  • Add pictures
  • Change account settings e.g. to allow/disallow comments, make your library private, allow/disallow LibraryThing to pass your reviews to commercial/non-commercial ventures
  • Define options for how your public catalogue page displays by default (e.g. what information is included and how it is displayed). This is under "Display styles" (and can also be controlled from "My Books")
  • Set up connections to other web 2.0 services such as Twitter and FaceBooks. This is under "Site/Apps"

Adding Books

  1. Choose the "Add Books" tab.
  2. You can add books individually or you can "import books" as a batch (which is probably more convenient for most libraries)

Adding books individually

  1. LibraryThing is set up to search for books on Amazon and a number of Library catalogues. Once you have found the appropriate book you can add it to your own LibraryThing catalogue and edit the record, add tags, reviews and other information. By default LibraryThing searches Amazon but you may wish to change this. If you want to search OLIS click "choose from 690 other sources around the World" and then browse by country. OLIS is under Oxford University.
  2. Enter a title, author or ISBN to search. Note: Author / title searching on OLIS from LibraryThing is very slow and OLIS may time out before it returns any results. If you have problems choose Amazon or Library of Congress instead.
  3. Select the correct record from the results on the right
  4. Choose "edit book" if you want to make amendments to the record (or alternatively if you just want to add tags or review click "quick edit")

What if I can't find the book? If you can't find a book on any of the catalogues available (Amazon, Library of Congrees, OLIS etc) you can add it manually. Choose "Add the Book Manually" at the bottom of the screen

Importing books as a batch

  1. Choose "Import books" (there's a link at the bottom of the "Add Books" page).
  2. Paste the ISBNs of the titles you want to add into the third box down. If you want to add your recent accessions, you can ask the OLIS team to include the 020 field in your weekly report. You are likely to get some duplicates but its easy to remove these once the items are in LibraryThing.

Other things to do:

  • Choose "Widgets" (home page - top right) to get LibraryThing widgets. Note: these are also often available from within other web 2.0 apps

  • Set up a "Group" for discussion