Friday, February 01, 2008

Thoughts on LibraryThing

DearMYRTLE recently wrote a blog post where she compared two private library cataloging web sites, Good Reads and LibraryThing. She asked for readers' feedback and then wrote a followup article. I wanted to comment at the time but was just too buried in my computer transition project to do it. But I'm going to share my thoughts now.

I have never used Good Reads. In fact, I'd never heard of it until DearMYRTLE mentioned it. So I'm in no position to comment on that one. Now Libary thing is a site I know something about. I wrote a review of it back in 2006. I stand by my review. It's a great site, and very easy to use. Do I still use it? No. {sheepish grin}

Sites like Good Reads and LibraryThing are only as good as your committment to keep them up. And while I think they're a great idea in theory, remembering to enter each and every new book when you get it makes it a little impractical, at least for me.

I entered all the genealogy/history books on my bookshelves back in 2006 when I wrote the review. It really didn't take very long (I had just over 100 books at the time) because the process is so automated. I put the LibraryThing widget on my blog and then pretty much forgot about it. After all, I don't buy new books every week (don't I wish ;-) so it was some time before I had a new book to enter. I didn't have reason to go back and actually use the search function to look up any of my books. When I wanted to use one I just walked over to my book shelves and picked it out.

Somewhere down the line it occurred to me that I had gotten some new books since I'd initially catalogued my library. The problem was, I couldn't remember which ones. "Oh well", I thought, "I'll look over my bookshelf when I get a chance." But I didn't make time when there were just "a couple" new books. Since that time I've added many new books to my library and now the task of locating them to add them to my catalogue has become a "one of these days" project ("one of these days" projects never seem to make it to my to-do list).

I think if I'd made use of the search function at LibraryThing on a regular basis (or even once) and found it helpful I would have been more committed to maintaining an accurate catalogue. But I haven't made use of it so it has become rather unimportant to me. And once the catalogue becomes out of date, its usefulness is diminished.

Like so many other things, private library catalogues are only as good as the committment of the person who has to maintain them. Mine isn't very good anymore. But I still think the concept is a good one and I probably will update my catalogue "one of these days" ;-)