Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodreads and Library Thing

Two different patrons have recently asked me if it is possible to track what they've read using Library circulation records. My standard response was that no, of course not. Though the Patriot Act allows an authorized federal, state or local law enforcement official to access circulation records with a court order, we don't give that information out to anyone without a court order and we do not keep those records long term.

In both cases the individuals were disappointed, not reassured. They weren't concerned about privacy issues, but instead were hoping they could take a look at their own record to see what they had already read. In one case, keeping track of the many Nora Roberts books and series was the difficulty, since Ms Roberts has written over 150 novels.

Fortunately, though the Library's circulation records cannot be used for this purpose, there are two online websites that can do what these patrons want to do-- Goodreads and Library Thing. Goodreads allows people to "add" titles to their "bookshelves", thus creating a list of books already read and also a "to read" list. It is pretty slick, though there is some front-end work of loading in the books you've already read during your life. This can be kind of fun, however, since you can also rate the books as you go and it may remind you of a few titles or authors who had drifted out of your conscienceness over time.

Library Thing is a little different, though it can also be used to track what titles have been read or which are on the "to read" list. It is essentially a "self-cataloging" web tool, allowing members (free for the first 200 titles, and only $10 a year or $25 for a life-time membership) to create their own personal catalog of book titles owned. You can also check out other member book lists, finding others with similar tastes. Indeed, one of Library Things selling points is that it is the world's largest book club. There is also a review function, genre specific groups, a blog and various other nifty bells and whistles.

Both sites are well worth your time to check out if you like reading and books. I know I spent a good two hours yesterday creating my own bookshelves at Goodreads yesterday. And it was a good two hours. Quite a lot of fun and an interesting romp down memory lane, adding books to my list that I had nearly forgotten I had actually read, yea these many years ago.

Both sites also offer members the opportunity for social interaction with other members if they desire. But it is all optional, and you do not have to interact with anyone if you choose to use the sites just for keeping track of books owned and read.

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