The advantage of using LibraryThing to create an online database (besides the advantage of it being free!) is that one can download records from the Library of Congress as well as many public and academic libraries from around the world. Not only does this save a great deal of time in entering data, but these records include the authorized subject headings that provide additional access beyond simply author/title. With LibraryThing, we may continue using our local classification system (Fiction, Biography, 1666 Authors) and also may supply additional search terms such as “Coffman Biography” and “Minnesota Fiction” to our records.
LibraryThing can be used by individuals not only to create a free inventory of their personal collections, but also to keep track of their reading. Some of my friends do this. When they finish a book borrowed from the public library, they go into their account on LibraryThing.com, download the appropriate record into it, and use the rating system included to track whether or not they liked the book. They also can look back to check which titles by prolific authors they’ve already read (Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, John Grisham, James Patterson, for example). There’s even an app for LibraryThing, so you can take your LibraryThing database with you to the library or to the bookstore on your smartphone.
I started using LibraryThing not long after its 2005 debut because I would find myself attending a conference across the country, going into a used bookstore, and not being able to remember whether I had already found a copy of certain out-of-print texts for my personal research collection. Sound familiar?
As of this writing, there are 2,698,748 members on LibraryThing. Besides the database option, there are reading groups and lists and reviews and much more. You can check it out for yourself at LibraryThing.com.
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