Thursday, December 13, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Catalog

Do you use any of the online book-cataloging sites, like LibraryThing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))

If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?

One of my favorite procrastination strategies is spending time with my book lists. Whether it be cataloging, reorganizing my own shelves or browsing other people's libraries online. Lately though it seems I end up playing Big Money (have no fear, there's no real money involved). What I should be doing perhaps is continue with adding old reviews to my LibraryThing catalog and update my tags.

Last year about this time, I decided to give LibraryThing a try after hearing so much about it. I spent part of my holiday vacation logging in my books by hand, over a 1000 all together. I had considered Shelfari at the time as well, but it did not quite meet my expectations. Only recently did I finally cave in and join Shelfari too because so many of my friends prefer it. I fought joining for so long because I did not want another book catalog to have to keep up and because it lacks features that I really want in an online cataloging site. I cannot promise I will stick to Shelfari, but for now, I am giving it a try. I was quite disappointed when my entire library from LibraryThing could not be imported over to Shelfari. Luckily, Shelfari made a list of all the books it could not add, and so if ever I decide to take the time, I may go back and add some of those by hand. One of those activities to do when procrastination sets in perhaps.

I tried Goodreads for a couple of months at the invitation of a friend and was not too impressed in the end and ended up canceling my account. Of all three of the book cataloging sites I have tried, I still favor LibraryThing. It may not be as pretty, but it does have the most useful features, at least in terms of what I am looking for and want in a site for keeping tabs of my books. LibraryThing is easier to navigate when I want to look at books with certain tags, tag multiple books at once, and pull up various lists based on criteria I am interested in searching under. And of course, the Early Review program is a big bonus. I have thrown my name in for several selections since the program began and been chosen to review a number of books so far.

Besides the online catalogs, I also keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the books in my TBR collection. As soon as a new book comes into my house, it gets logged onto both LibraryThing and my Excel spreadsheet. Sure, it's double duty, but I find both catalogs useful in their own ways, and I do not mind the extra effort. Whereas LibraryThing is a record of nearly all of the books in my home library, TBR books included, my Excel spreadsheet is a list of only my TBR collection (divided by genre or category). I also have my book wish list which is also on an Excel spreadsheet. Wish list books, or books I want to read but do not have on hand, should not to be confused with TBR books, which are books I already own but have yet to read. Of course, there is also my reading journal and the Table of Contents page on Excel I keep of my journal entries on each book. There's a new page for each year.

Online cataloging sites are known for the sense of community and most include groups and discussion threads that make sharing a love for books even that more interesting. Which reminds me, I think I will mosey on over to LibraryThing and see what I have missed so far this week . . .


  1. Wow, I wish I'm as well-organized as you, Wendy! Cataloging can be so time consuming, and I hardly have the time to do this but I do make a habit of updating the list on LT/Shelfari whenever I buy a new book so that's a good start, hehe.

    Happy Friday! :)

  2. Hi, Melody! I like putting things in order, I admit, and so I tend to be more or less an organized person. :-) It really helps updating as I go instead of letting the books pile up for weeks to months on end. It wouldn't be so manageable otherwise, I'm sure.

  3. Everyone keeps mentioning tagging when it comes to Library Thing. You can tag at Shelfari too. I need to compare and contrast.

    An Excel spreadsheet would be a nice project while on my winter break from classes. I don't know if I could be as detailed as you are though.

  4. One of the main reasons I haven't joined any online book catalog sites is because I barely have enough time for blogging, never mind joining more communities! I have everything (wishlist, TBR, read for each year, etc. etc. etc.) in one very detailed Excel spreadsheet that still works well for me.

  5. Thanks for all the details on LibraryThing. It's the one catalog site I don't think I've registered on yet. :-)

    I joined both Shelfari and GoodReads on invitations from friends, but one of them, like you, actually isn't all that thrilled with Shelfari after all.

    I think I may start out with a spreadsheet like you keep for your TBRs, and go from there. Your discussion of your cataloguing methods is inspiring me to get going on this long-overdue project myself - thank you!

  6. Cool sounds like you are as organised as me when it comes to books! I use LibraryThing as well as a notebook to catalogue all my books. I also have a seperate small notebook (with pictures of bookson the cover) with a list of books I want and at the back books I have bought so I can try and keep track of how many I am buying each month). I am also on my second notebook of book reviews which I am also updating on my LibraryThing. I find using tags on LT to be really useful when entering challenges and seeing the spread of my books.

  7. I think the main thing keeping me from Library Thing is the thought of cataloging all of my books on another site, again. I've gone through a few that I ended up not really liking, it makes me hesitate to try again.

  8. I love LibraryThing except that they make you pay for a membership if you want to go over a certain number of books. So many people use a spreadsheet, I'm going to have to look into that option. The TBR pile is getting a little unruly. :)

  9. Whoooo! Someone else who plays Big Money! I'm such a PopCap addict. :D Do you play Bookworm too? and Bejeweled II?

  10. Hi there,

    Thanks for those comments about LibraryThing - we're working on becoming prettier while also staying extremely useful. :-) I'd like to use a quote from your blog on our Buzz page - alright if I do that?

    Also, I prefer playing Rocketmania, but I've definitely enjoyed a game or two of Big Money.

    Lindsey, Assistant LT Librarian

  11. Okay, okay... all of you people have finally talked me into trying LibraryThing (and yes my username there is errantdreams too). I'm already addicted. I figure maybe if I can convince my husband to poke me to add new books when we get them, I'll be okay.

  12. I use LibraryThing to catalog my quite extensive book collection. I find it uber easy to use and appreciate the ability to add my own tags. One of the tags for each record is a "location" for the book since they can be at home or office, on any number of bookshelves in one of several rooms at home, or in a numbered box system in the garage. Without a "locator" tag I wouldn't be able to find any of them!

    I tried Shelfari and it doesn't really suit my needs and I've come across too many books that I should be able to add easily yet can't pull a record from Shelfari in order to add it. So what I do with Shelfari (since I too have a number of friends using it) is add books I'm reading. These books may or may not be owned by me, whereas all books in LibraryThing are owned.

    I'm a librarian so it shouldn't be surprising that I would go with the more robust LibraryThing.

  13. I forgot to mention something about the "fee" for LibraryThing if you add over a certain number of titles.

    I went ahead and paid $25 for a lifetime account and I think it has been one of the best $25 dollars I've spent. They provide and improve the system that makes it easy for me to create a catalog of my thousands of books. This system is also quite attractive allowing me to include book covers; this function is useful too since I get a visual on my copy of the book. They also provide the storage (info real estate, if you will!) for my quite large and growing database AND they back it all up. I can also access it easily from anywhere I'm connected to the Web.

    Can you tell I'm a fan??

  14. Trisha - I just find it easier to tag books on LibraryThing overall. Shelfari is very limited in terms of navigating through a person's shelves, I've noticed, including when browsing through tags.

    Tanabata - I understand that! I think you should use whatever works best for you. :-)

    Florinda - The spreadsheet method is really easy and doable if you stick with it. I thought about the idea of joining a site like LibraryThing for months before finally deciding it was worth a try because I didn't know if I wanted all the extras. In the end though, I love the community aspect and the different features LibraryThing allows me to do with my books.

    Rhinoa - I've thought about keeping better track of what I buy, but I am afraid to know! ;-)

    I haven't used the tags for the challenges, but it's a good idea.

    Nyssaneala - You might consider experimenting a little. Give the different sites a try for a week or a month and see if it's something you'd like to use. Maybe log a couple of books to start. That way, you get a taste without having to completely commit before you are ready. On the plus side, all are free with the exception of LibraryThing, which is free up until a certain point. Free enough for experimenting first. :-)

    Kookie - I didn't mind paying the onetime lifetime fee for LibraryThing in the end. It's really paid off for me. I know not everyone wants to pay though. I think a spreadsheet works very well as well and it's a good way to start cataloging books.

    Heather - I do play Bookworm too and Bejeweled II. :-) They're very addicting!

    Lindsey - I have noticed that LibraryThing is making a lot of changes appearance wise. And quickly! I appreciate all the hard work everyone puts into the site.

    I don't mind if you use a quote from my blog at all. I'd be honored. :-)

    I haven't tried Rocketmania yet. I'll have to give that a try.

    Heather - It is addicting, believe me! I hope you enjoy giving it a try. :-)

  15. Terri - Very well said! That's a great idea on how to use Shelfari. It sounds more doable than what I'm trying to do now. Thanks for the idea!

  16. Well.... as soon as I can find the time I might update my old LT account.

  17. Jen - I have projects I think I'll get to someday too. :-)

  18. Hi Wendy, I like LT a lot but haven't fully realize its potential yet. LOL. Book cataloguing is also one of my favourite procrastinating techniques. Hahahaha.

  19. Alice - I discover something new on LT every time I'm there practically! It's a lot of fun.

  20. I'm a LibraryThing user, too. I never tried Shelfari, but I did import books to GoodReads- however, I'm not active on GoodReads at all. I don't think I'm as active on LibraryThing any more, either, mostly because I was out of the reading community for a good six month chunk of time or so. But I'm getting back into it. And I do always add books I buy immediately into LibraryThing and tag them, too. Slightly obsessive- but so useful :-)

  21. Aarti - I'm like that too--obsessive about adding new books into LibraryThing as soon as I can. It makes it easier and I don't have to worry about the books piling up. :-)


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