Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cataloging Your Research Book Collection the Easy Way

Lori Thornton, a professional librarian and researcher over at Smoky Mountain Family Historian suggested I try LibraryThing and I’m glad I did. LibraryThing is an online service to help people easily catalog their personal book collection. With this online service, you can access your catalog from anywhere—even on a mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, the service also connects people with the same books and comes up with suggestions for what to read next.

I found the service very straightforward and easy to navigate. The task of cataloging your personal library sounds like quite a chore, but with the assistance of LibraryThing, it’s really quite easy. You can search to see if the publication information for your book is already available. LibraryThing searches the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and a host of world libraries. The book information also includes images of the book covers for many of the books. My regional genealogy collection didn’t have images of the book covers, but LibraryThing allows you to upload an image yourself. For those books with publication information not already available, adding a book manually to your collection is an easy and quick chore. You can also edit your information, search and sort it, tag books with your own subjects or use the Library of Congress and Dewey systems to organize your collection.

This service is ideal for cataloging your genealogical book collection. And with using the service you can locate others who have the same research books you have. This can really come in handy, finding other family historians researching the same geographic areas or surnames.

A free account allows the user to catalog up to 200 books. A paid account allows you to catalog any number of books. Paid personal accounts cost $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime. For those who wish, LibraryThing is also an amazing social space, often described as the “Facebook for books.” As a user, you can check out other users’ libraries, see who has the most similar library to yours and swap reading suggestions.

As readers have probably noticed, I have added a LibraryThing widget to this blog, in the sidebar showing random books from my private library. For further information about this service, visit the LibraryThing website.


Mona Robinson Mills said...

That's a great idea - thanks for passing it along.

Lori Thornton said...

I'm really glad you liked LibraryThing!

Bob Franks said...

Thanks for writing Mona and Lori. I'm up to nearly 150 books entered so far, and it's a good way to keep up with what you have, and to also see who else has the same books.