Sunday, October 29, 2006

A new search tool for librarians

Ok, Librarystuff and other bloggers have spoken about this, but Liszen has just been released by Garreth Hungerford a search engine just for library blogs. I've just added myself, it looks gorgeous to. Give it a try.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Helen Rumbelow, political correspondent for The Times of London and A response to her article

Lisnews had an article from Helen Rumbelow last night which caused me no sense of unease. Her article looked at the Idea Store in Tower Hamlets in east London.

She goes on to describe how the library in the UK is dead, saying:-

[In] the Nineties, and the internet, happened. The visitors to the library of my childhood drifted away. Almost anything you could want there, the computer could do better.

The man who shuffled in with an embarrassing medical condition to research? Far more information online, and in the comfort of your own home. Ditto almost any research project.

So everything is on Google is it? Um, well thats not true. Google has around 15 % of all written material. Libraries through inter-library loans can bring that to a higher number. But then thats just for researchers and Helen CERTAINLY is not one of them. Also libraries provide internet access to those without access for free. My library even has wi-fi for its users.Libraries are public places that create and often can sustain a community intellectually and socially.

As she's writing for london I suppose its hard for her to look beyond the realms of her Chiswick home. Not to say libraries are not declining, but they are required. Thank god I read The Guardian.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Article on library improvement

Read an excellent post over on Life as I know it. Its called Improving Library Services: A Review of Techniques. Its excellently researched and really something to read.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Library humour

Walking paper blog have a very funny link here. Made me laugh.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Librarything, Shelfari, and Gurulib: Social Cataloging Sites Compared

I have recently been looking at Social Cataloging Applications, and have previously looked (briefly) at Gurulib, Librarything, and Shelfari. I am now going to review these sites in unison and in a bit more depth, by looking at the following:

  • Features.

  • Look and feel / ease of use.

  • Data control and ownership (can you import and export your data?).

  • Community and Social Networking.



Utilises the Dewey Decimal system and many other classification schemes.

As Abby of Librarything told me:

'We get the data not only from Amazon but also from 60+ libraries around the world (using Z39.50), we have a lot of data. Dewey, LC Call Numbers, LCSH, etc. You can customize your display styles in your catalog to see data if it's not already showing up, but for most books, the classification is there!'

I think that's pretty amazing.

Librarything allows you to label a book as "received" from one of the 6 book swapping sites which the site supports.

Librarything Mobile (a version of the site designed to be read on a mobile phone or device) enables you to check whether you've got a book in your library when you're standing in a bookshop. Searches via ISBN, title, author, or tags.

Allows you to add your own tags.

Score: 7 out of 10


Shelfari (unlike Librarything) allows for an unlimited amounts of books on your Internet shelf (foe free). This could cause people to convert to it.

Also utilises the Dewey Decimal system.

Uses some nice Ajax, although the site isn't currently compatible with the Safari web browser.

Also allows you to add your own tags.

Score: 5 out of 10


Gurulib like Shelfari is a beta version.

Gurulib does books, DVDs, games, software, and movies. These added features are a real bonus.

Gurulib says:

'Search from over 530 Public Libraries. GuruLib can access over 530 public libraries around the world to collect cataloging information about hard to find books, movie, music, games and software. If your local library support Z39.50 protocol, GuruLib can search it.'

Thats pretty good.

You can add your own titles shelves. Another form of tagging then!

Allows you to scan ISBN or upc codes of objects into the system. Neat.

Gurulib also has a feature called 'Smart Price Watch':

'Set a target price for items in the wishlist, Gurulib will inform you through email when the price of the item falls beneath the target price. A graphical price history will help you know the current price trend.'

That's helpful if you want to buy a book.

Also allows you to add your own tags

Score: 8 out of 10

Look and feel / ease of use


No disrespect but I hate the header. Is it trying to be too retro?. Obviously, if they did change it, some users might be disgruntled.

Really easy to use.

Score: 7 out of 10


Shelfari looks a lot nicer. Out of all the sites it looks beautiful. Pity about not being compatible with Apple's Safari browser.

Again, really easy to use.

Score: 8 out of 10


Very basic look.

Also, really easy to use.

Score: 4 out of 10

Data control and ownership


Most importantly, Librarything allows you to import and export your data. That makes it easy to not only move your data into the site but also take your data with you, if you move elsewhere.

As Abby from Librarything explained:

'[You can] Import... your books (and many people do) from Delicious Library, Bookcollector, Amazon wishlists, Vox, you name it. Check out our "Universal Import" - or look on the Joy tab. You can also export your Librarything data (links also on the Joy tab) - we are firm believers that your data is yours - and that it should be flexible and easy to get to - to put in and to take out.'

Score: 9 out of 10


Only allows you to import your data but not export. Bad shelfari.

Score: 5 out of 10


Does not have either option that I can see.

Update: GuruLib supports exporting and importing data.

As Rana Basheer of GuruLib explained:

'Navigate to your profile page where links for exporting your entire books, movies, music, games or software will be available on the right hand side. The current export format is tab delimited and should open in excel software. The import feature was added recently. Import feature scans for ISBN/UPC/ASIN from XML/text files and then try to find the cataloging information from either Amazon databases or the public library list the user has selected.'

Score: 7 out of 10



Librarything has an advantage of having two blogs. The owner, Tim Spalding, usually adds regularly to his blog. Gives a real sense of community.

Librarything is also about Social Networking. Librarything's recent introduction of groups allows for the conection of like minded people TALKING to each other.

Score: 9 out of 10


Shelfari also has a social networking component. As one comment left on my blog said:-

'The thing I like about Shelfari is that it's primary purpose is to share your love of reading and book recommendations with others. Social interaction relating to books gives the recommendations a personal feel and it's easy to let your friends know what you're reading and why.'

However, the site doesn't have seperate groups or communities like Librarything.

Score: 6 out of 10


Gurulib has a basic discussion forum.

Score: 4 out of 10


The marks added together are as follows and (out of 40):

Librarything = 32

Shelfari = 24

Gurulib = 23

I think you can see that Librarything is my favourite. I think, in comparison to the other two, Librarything really gives you that extra. Its main area I like is being able to transfer your data both into it and out of the site.

I also like the community aspect. Librarything talks to its users. Great site. The only downside is that you have to pay to add more than books to your library. But with these services I think it's worth it. The other two contenders, (who were later entrants to this space) may struggle. I think Gurulib might struggle more than Shelfari, as it does not look so aesthetically pleasing. Shelfari does really look nice, I got to say that. Gurulib in adding DVDs, films, CDs etc is really good, but unlike Shelfari and Librarything, it has no community or social networking.

This is not to say librarything should rest on its laurels (and it hasn't so far). Gurulib and Shelfari are new, and need to get a sense of community. They allow you to add as much as you want. But librarything is being very vigilant. Adding new features, talking to its users and by allowing users to move there data out as well as in, means it has to treat its users well.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Library questionaire

Was reading Tim Coates blog, when he pointed me in the direction of a questionaire on UK libraries. I'm going to do it soon. Nice too see a fellow professional trying to get some feedback on where we're going wrong.

Shelfari.......librarything with a nicer Ajax interface

Friend showed me a called Shelfari. Its a lot nicer looking than Librarything, with a Ajax look and a real web 2.0 one as well. It allows you to tag, recommend books and discuss books as well. Excellent social software, but do I have time to transfer to all my information from Librarything to there without doing it individually? Not that I can see. Do I have the time to do this? Nope, not with a Masters course, a job, a blog and other readings. As I'd say:-

'Make it simple and easy to transfer and they will come.'

Whoops.Apologies to shelfari. You can import your librarything books. Also, another great feature is your books get the relevant Dewey Decimal number. It is very good. But, I'm so used to Librarything, it feels like cheating on a girlfriend.......

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Longtail and the local bookstore

Techdirt have a story titled Independent Bookstores Learning How To Adjust To The Changing Market. Looking into how some local bookstore's are:-

it looks like many indie book stores are working to become destinations for the community as well, even clearing out some of the books, adding in tables along with food and drinks (including alcohol). Some are also looking to publish books on their own as well.

Sounds like the long tail in full effect.

Exhibition : Game on

My greatest love (ok, after my soccer team) is arcade game's. I loved them since I had my Sinclair ZX81. So was good to hear that At the Science Museum, London, there having a retrospective exhibition on Gaming, consoles etc, called Game On. I think my misses may wanna miss the exhibition. Perhaps I should drive there on my Raleigh Grifter? Nostalgia rocks.....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Youtube acquired

They said it would never happen. Youtube has been acquired by Google. Techcrunch, who informed us on friday the deal was on the card, revealed the deal had cost $1.65 billion. Expect loads of press coverage, for the next week.

Community in books

First off, I would like to say I am not affiliated to Bookmooch in any way or form. My entry here is just to point you in the direction of a group on bookmooch, is available on librarything. Well worth a look.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Gurulib, the new librarything?

Gurulib is described as:-

GuruLib is a free web service to help organize home libraries. Catalog your books, DVDs, music CDs, games and software online using a book shelf metaphor.

You can scan in your ISBN, review your books and tell when books have to go back. Looks ok. The scanning is a good idea, but I just feel its trying to do a similar thing to Librarything.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gaming in libraries and education

Having previously brought up this in another post, John Kirriemuir wrote to me point me in the direction of more news on gaming in libraries/education in his own blog here. Well worth a read. Along with the registers article more 'slanted' view on the subject.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Interview with John Buckman, owner of Bookmooch

Here is the full text of a email interview with Bookmooch owner, John Buckman. Anyway, my previous review of the sight seems to have caused a small piece of offence. Apologies for this, I'd like to think i'm a champion of bookmooch, but perhaps I was over analytical. Anyhow the interview John sent me.

Sorry for the delay, I've been in the middle of a press tour, which
is ending in a few days. I'm in Tokyo currently.

I'm a little saddened by your negative review of BookMooch. The abuse
rate is miniscule (two abuse reports for 10,000 books traded). Not
sure what is "not clean" about "the look".

Q.1/Do you feel is the next social networking
phenomena of the social net working site? I feel your the of literature?

Fundamentally, BookMooch is about trading books, not a social network
site. Everyone has books they'll never read again on their
bookshelf, and BookMooch simply helps unwanted books find places
where they are wanted. Many side-effects come out of doing this,
such as meeting people with similar book tastes, and in general,
seeing far more books now that the cost is so low, but the main goal
is bringing a huge unused resource back into the world. However,
features such as book lists, discussions, reading groups are all
planned and will come out in the next few months.

Q.2/ The use of Amazon and librarything API really add to the
usability features of your site. Whats you opinion on having access to these

Without amazon, BookMooch would have been quite difficult to do, so
it really is a wonderful thing that they make these available.
LibraryThing came later, and Tim (the founder of LibraryThing) and I
share philosophies and greatly admire each other, so we have deeply
integrated our two web sites, and will continue to do so. I believe
a big part of Web 2.0 is understanding that users are in control, and
that users want single-purpose web sites that are optimized and best
for that use, not Web 1.0 web sites that try to capture the user and
provide all features they may ever need.

Q.3/ would you consider using more tag's for the way you describe
books? A large selection may give people a better idea of what the book is
about or a better of looking more serendipitously[hope i spelt correctly]?

Yes, of course.