Infobox Website
name = LibraryThing
favicon =

caption =
url =,, etc.
commercial =
type = Catalog and community
registration = Free with upgrade option
owner = Tim Spalding (60%)
AbeBooks (40%)
author = Tim Spalding
launch date = August 29, 2005
current status =
revenue =

LibraryThing is a prominent social cataloging web application for storing and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists.

LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and went live on August 29, 2005. By its one-year anniversary in August 2006, LibraryThing had attracted more than 73,000 registered users who had cataloged 5.1 million individual books, representing nearly 1.2 million unique works; in May 2008 they reached over 400,000 users and 27 million books. [cite web| url=| title=Zeitgeist Overview| publisher=LibraryThing| accessdate=2008-06-03.] The LibraryThing website displays Google AdSense advertising on work and author pages for users that are not logged in, and receives referral fees from online bookstores that supply book cover images. Individual users can sign up for free and register up to 200 books. Beyond that limit and/or for commercial or group use, a subscription fee or one-time lifetime fee is charged. Online bookseller AbeBooks bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum. [cite news| first=Richard| last=Davies| url=| title=ABEBOOKS.COM ACQUIRES MAJOR STAKE IN LIBRARYTHING.COM – A SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE FOR BIBLIOPHILES|| date=2006-05-16]

Users (informally known as "thingamabrarians", a term coined by contributor RJO) can catalog personal collections, keep reading lists, and meet other users who have the same books. While it is possible to keep a library catalog private, most people choose to make their catalogs public, which makes it possible to find others with similar tastes. Thingamabrarians can browse the entire database by searching titles, authors, or tags generated by users as they enter books into their libraries.


The primary feature of LibraryThing is the automatic cataloging of books by importing data from booksellers and libraries through Z39.50 connections. Six stores supply a ready (if sometimes inaccurate) source of data. Library sources supply MARC and Dublin Core records to LT; users can import information from over 680 libraries, including the Library of Congress, National Library of Australia, the Canadian National Catalogue and Yale University. [cite web| url=| title=Add books to your library| accessdate=2008-06-03] Once the correct book and edition has been located, a click adds it to the user's catalog. If the correct book or edition is not available, it can be manually added or the record can be edited later. Furthermore, books can be added from another member's catalog or by searching on LibraryThing itself. A list of ISBNs can also be imported.

A "Suggester" feature, introduced in April 2006, provides book recommendations based on catalogs with similar books. The comical "Unsuggester" lists books that are rarely owned by the same people as the books in your library. Both these features can also be applied to a specific book.

Social features

After a user catalogs books, he or she can tag them, add/correct cover pictures, and use social features. When a book is tagged, it can be viewed when other users or books use that tag. Tagging is, according to the WikiThing,

...a simple way to categorize books according to how [a user thinks] of them.... Thus one person will tag the The DaVinci Code "novels" while another tags it "trashy, religion, mary," and still another only "summer home." Tags are particularly useful for sorting and searching by those concepts—i.e., when you need a list of all your novels or all the books at the summer home. [cite web| url=| title=Tagging - WikiThing| date=2008-01-18| accessdate=2008-06-03]

Another feature, "Members with your books", shows the names of the members with the 50 most similar libraries. When viewing another member's profile or library, the system shows how many (and which) books are shared in common between the two users. If desired, members can leave a (public or private) comment on another member's profile. One can also add the member as a friend, to a private watch list, or as an interesting library.

In September 2006, LibraryThing added an easy way to see book data from several book-swapping web sites. [cite web| url=| title=Arrr… Swap books!| date=2006-09-03| last=Spalding| first=Tim| work=The LibraryThing Blog| accessdate=2007-03-13] LibraryThing book pages include a "swap this book" link with the number of copies available at book-swapping sites, the number of people who desire a copy of the book, and links to specific sites where people have or want the book (sorted by number of copies).

LibraryThing's social features define it as a Web 2.0 application. It has been compared to bookmark manager, [cite news| first=Jim| last=Regan| url=| title=Do your own LibraryThing| work=Christian Science Monitor| date=2005-11-09| accessdate=2007-03-13] the collaborative music service, [cite news| first=Alistair| last=Bain| url=| title=LibraryThing| work=Desert of Zin| date=2007-04-28| accessdate=2007-06-20] and aNobii, another book cataloguing site. [cite news| first=Craig| last=Childs| url=| title= aNobii - Share, Track & Buy Books| work=| date=2007-03-27| accessdate=2007-06-02]


At the end of June 2006, LibraryThing was subject to the Slashdot effect from a "Wall Street Journal" article. [cite news| first=Aaron| last=Rutkoff| url=| title=Social Networking for Bookworms| work=Wall Street Journal| date=2006-06-27| accessdate=2006-12-15] The site's developers added servers to compensate for the increased traffic. In December of the same year, the site received yet more attention from Slashdot itself over its UnSuggester feature, which draws suggestions from books least likely to appear in the same catalog as a given book. [cite web| title=Unsuggester: Finding the Book You'll Never Want| url=| work=Slashdot| date=2006-12-04| accessdate=2006-12-15]

LibraryThing maintains two blogs and a forum for discussions about LibraryThing. Since the introduction of the forum section of the site, called "Talk," the previously active LibraryThing Google Group has been retired.


LibraryThing has members across the world. The site supports international members by including sources (libraries and shops) from a number of countries and translated versions of the site which are available at separate URLs which can be found at the site.

See also

* Folksonomy
* Tags
* Bibliographic database
* OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)


Further reading

* Wenzler, J. [ LibraryThing and the library catalog: adding collective intelligence to the OPAC] . A Workshop on Next Generation Libraries. San Francisco State University CARL NITIG; September 7, 2007.

External links

* [ LibraryThing]

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