Thursday, August 31, 2006

Share Your Personal Library

Here's a way for genealogists to share their personal libraries with others. LibraryThing.com is a web site that allows you to catalogue all the books in your personal library, tag them by subject, rate them, review them, and search them from any computer with internet access or even a cell phone. But the best part of all is, you can share your catalogue with all your friends.

Anyone who has been involved in genealogy research for any time at all has acquired a book or two. Some of us have acquired a few more ;-) My collection happens to be pretty specialized since all of my ancestors immigrated from Poland and settled in Detroit, Michigan. Over the years, I've accumulated several history books on Detroit as well as Poland, church jubilee books, Polish language books, transcription books, etc. If you want suggestions on where to look for specific information, you can search my catalogue. If I have a book on the topic you're interested in I can do a look-up for you. Just imagine if everyone in the online genealogy community were to do that!

The LibraryThing web site has just celebrated their one year anniversary this week. Last week they celebrated their 5 millionth book being added. "If LibraryThing were compared to a traditional library...it would now be the 34th largest library in the United States, edging out the University of Virginia." Of course it isn't actually a library, it's just a place to catalog the book titles of your personal library. And search the book titles of other people's personal libraries. But even that is pretty amazing!

What's made this site that's never advertised (except Google Adsense for a few weeks) so popular? The ease with which you can enter your books. The site's interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Signing up is the easiest ever. To enter a book, all you have to do is type a few words from the title, or the author's name, or ISBN and hit the search button. The site will search Amazon.com, the Library of Congress, or any one of 45 libraries from around the world (including The National Library of Poland ;-) It will give you a list of results that match your information. Then all you have to do is click on the link of the book title you want and it adds it and all the relevant information about it to your personal collection. That's it! You can add tags, comments, or a review if you like. On the rare occasion that one of your books isn't in their index, you can add it manually. I was very surprised at how many of my books were already in their index though. Including all my books from Poland except one.

In the column to the left on this page, you will see a random sample of book covers from my personal collection. If you click on one of them, it will take you to Amazon.com where you can buy that book. If you click on the hyperlinked text "my library" (As in, Random books from my library), it will take you to my collection of books on the LibraryThing web site. If you click on the "Powered by LibraryThing" link it will take you to the home page where you can take a tour of the site or sign yourself up and start cataloguing your own library.

It's free to sign up for a basic account which allows you to enter up to 200 books. If you want to add more than that you can get a premium account for $10/year or $25 for lifetime. Such a deal!

So go ahead and check out my personal library of books related to my genealogy research... oh go on, you know you're curious! Then sign up yourself and start cataloging your own books. I'll be looking for a LibraryThing link on my fellow blogger's sites. I've showed you mine, now you show me yours...


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