350 words about LibraryThing as a shadow catalog for books.
The bookshelf in my bedroom is full of books, thanks to LibraryThing. It's been a reliable source for recommendations for works that are the next one to read after I've enjoyed a book. Hopefully I'll be able to read a lot of them before they need to go back to the library.
Unlike some other libraries, the Ann Arbor District Library doesn't have a direct connection to LibraryThing. The Canton District Library does have an installation of LibraryThing for Libraries, their OPAC integration product, which lets you check availability of a book straight from LibraryThing. The lack of a direct link means that to find a book in the AADL that I have on my screen in LibraryThing I have to click a few more times. I suppose that's ok.
Does it make sense to tag and categorize books that you don't own yourself, but only have collected them from the library? There was a time when I tagged things everywhere I found them – photos on Flickr, web sites on Delicious – but these days that doesn't seem so important. I like seeing other people's tags, especially for works that are unfamiliar, but it hardly seems essential to do it for my own use unless there's some list I'm trying to put together. When did tagging cease being fun?
I'm spending some of my time on the site deleting books that I no longer even remember having read or that I no longer wish to remember. That should result in better recommendations, and maybe a chance to reread something that would have been worth remembering. My use of the site peaked in 2008 so there's not as much recent coverage as I'd like.
The recommendations from LibraryThing are really quite good, and they are even better for reflecting which of the books you've already read. The site generates ten recommendations based on other people's reading patterns, and it reminds you that you've read some of the ones on that list with a checkmark.
I wish I read more books and fewer web pages.