LibraryThing is a social cataloging web application
Web application
A web application is an application that is accessed over a network such as the Internet or an intranet. The term may also mean a computer software application that is coded in a browser-supported language and reliant on a common web browser to render the application executable.Web applications are...

 for storing and sharing book catalogs and various types of book metadata
The term metadata is an ambiguous term which is used for two fundamentally different concepts . Although the expression "data about data" is often used, it does not apply to both in the same way. Structural metadata, the design and specification of data structures, cannot be about data, because at...

. It is used by individuals, authors, libraries and publishers.

Based in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and went live on August 29, 2005. As of October 2011 it has over 1,400,000 users and more than 66 million books catalogued.


The primary feature of LibraryThing is the cataloging of books by importing data from libraries through Z39.50
Z39.50 is a client–server protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote computer databases. It is covered by ANSI/NISO standard Z39.50, and ISO standard 23950. The standard's maintenance agency is the Library of Congress....

 connections and from six, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 stores. Library sources supply MARC
MARC standards
MARC, MAchine-Readable Cataloging, is a data format and set of related standards used by libraries to encode and share information about books and other material they collect...

 and Dublin Core
Dublin Core
The Dublin Core metadata terms are a set of vocabulary terms which can be used to describe resources for the purposes of discovery. The terms can be used to describe a full range of web resources: video, images, web pages etc and physical resources such as books and objects like artworks...

 records to LT; users can import information from 690 libraries, including the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

, National Library of Australia
National Library of Australia
The National Library of Australia is the largest reference library of Australia, responsible under the terms of the National Library Act for "maintaining and developing a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the...

, the Canadian National Catalogue
Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada is a national memory institution dedicated to providing the best possible account of Canadian life through acquiring, preserving and making Canada's documentary heritage accessible for use in the 21st century and beyond...

, the British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

, and Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

. Should a record not be available from any of these sources, it is also possible to add the book information by using a blank form.

Social features

LibraryThing's social features have been compared to bookmark manager
Delicious is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. The site was founded by Joshua Schachter in 2003 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005, and by the end of 2008, the service claimed more than 5.3 million users and 180 million unique bookmarked URLs...

 and the collaborative music service is a music website, founded in the United Kingdom in 2002. It has claimed 30 million active users in March 2009. On 30 May 2007, CBS Interactive acquired for UK£140m ....

. Similar book cataloging sites include Goodreads
Goodreads is a privately run "social cataloging" website started in December 2006 by Otis Chandler, a software engineer and entrepreneur. The website permits individuals to sign up and register books to create their library catalogs and reading lists. It also allows users to create their own...

, Shelfari
Shelfari is a social cataloging website for books. Shelfari users build virtual bookshelves of the titles they own or have read, and can rate, review, tag, and discuss their books. Users can also create groups that other members may join, create discussions, and talk about books, or other topics...

, aNobii
Anobii is a social networking site aimed at readers. It was acquired by a new venture backed by HMV Group, Harper Collins, Penguin and Random House in 2010 from a private company owned by Greg Sung, based in Hong Kong....

, BookJetty, and weRead.

Ownership and membership

Online bookseller AbeBooks
AbeBooks is an online marketplace for books. Most books listed are used, many are rare or out-of-print, and a growing number are new books. The company is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with offices in Düsseldorf, Germany, and in the US. It was incorporated in 1995 and launched its...

 (now owned by Amazon, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

) bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum. In January 2009, Cambridge Information Group
Cambridge Information Group
Cambridge Information Group is a privately owned group of information services and publishing companies and educational institutions. It was founded in 1971 by Robert N. Snyder and Philip E. Hixon and is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. As of 2007, CIG’s operating companies are ProQuest, R.R....

 acquired a minority stake in the company, and their subsidiary Bowker became the official distributor to libraries.


At the end of June 2006, LibraryThing was subject to the Slashdot effect
Slashdot effect
The Slashdot effect, also known as slashdotting, occurs when a popular website links to a smaller site, causing a massive increase in traffic. This overloads the smaller site, causing it to slow down or even temporarily close. The name stems from the huge influx of web traffic that results from...

 from a Wall Street Journal article. The site's developers added servers to compensate for the increased traffic. In December of the same year, the site received yet more attention from Slashdot
Slashdot is a technology-related news website owned by Geeknet, Inc. The site, which bills itself as "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters", features user-submitted and ‑evaluated current affairs news stories about science- and technology-related topics. Each story has a comments section...

 over its UnSuggester feature, which draws suggestions from books least likely to appear in the same catalog as a given book.

See also

  • Folksonomy
    A folksonomy is a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content; this practice is also known as collaborative tagging, social classification, social indexing, and social tagging...

  • Tags
    Tag (metadata)
    In online computer systems terminology, a tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information . This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching...

  • Bibliographic database
    Bibliographic database
    A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government and legal publications, patents, books, etc...

  • OPAC
    An Online Public Access Catalog is an online database of materials held by a library or group of libraries...

    (Online Public Access Catalog)

Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.