Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Thing 13 - LibraryThing. It's a real shame...

I was really excited about LibraryThing. In fact, it was probably the Thing I was most looking forward to. I pride myself on maintaining a facade of normality such that, outside work, I am not instantly identifiable as a librarian, let alone a cataloguer. But the prospect of LibraryThing really had me excited, and I just couldn't be bothered to hide this, gleefully raving about its promise to my housemates over dinner. However, now that I've signed up, I have to admit to being pretty disappointed.

Firstly, it looks so horrid. It has a really dated feel about it. There is so much going on on my home page that I don't know where to look. And what is that colour?! It defies description - pink?beige? pinkish-beige?! If it were a pair of tights it would be "natural tan". That's no colour for an online library.
Busy and beige. Yuk!
(Hang on a minute - I've just previewed this page and noticed how well the LibraryThing screenshot blends in with my own pink/beige/pinkish-beige/natural-tan blog. How did this happen?! What shameless double standards I'm employing! I'm standing by my original assertion 'though - natural tan is no colour for an online library; for a blog, however...)

I was prepared to see past all of these superficial shortcomings. I was still very excited about cataloguing my books (oh dear) and set about adding some from my collection. Further disappointment ensued. I spend too much time cataloguing at work to want to have anything to do with detailed bibliographic description in my spare time. I understand that others may feel differently; I just wish you could create a personalised template record, choosing which fields you wanted. I know you don't have to fill everything in, but when there's a field I feel obliged to do fill it, especially when the data that is already there (courtesy of the downloaded records) is often inaccurate or inconsistently formatted - I just can't bear to leave it that way! On the plus side, at least you have some control over which fields display on the "your books" page.

My "your books" page - keeping it as simple as possible.

The final blow came when I learned that once you hit the 200 book mark you have to pay. I decided there was no point in starting when it seemed likely that I would easily reach that point. I felt thoroughly deflated....

However, since then I've discovered that the fee is almost negligible - $25 for a lifetime membership - and actually seems quite justifiable (to cover admin. and maintenance costs) rather than a shameless way of making mega-bucks. So, I'm reconsidering my position on LibraryThing. I love the idea of cataloguing my books, I like the reviews and I'm really keen to have "my LibraryThing" on my blog (as Gareth2.0 does). But I hate how it looks. It's such a shame! Cataloguing instinct versus aesthetics. It'll be interesting to find out which will win...

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