LibraryThing is a social cataloging
web application A web application (or web app) is application software that runs on a web server, unlike computer-based software programs that are run locally on the operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware ...
for storing and sharing book catalogs and various types of book
metadata Metadata is " data" that provides information about other data". In other words, it is "data about data". Many distinct types of metadata exist, including descriptive metadata, structural metadata, administrative metadata, reference metadata, st ...
. It is used by authors, individuals, libraries, and publishers. Based in
Portland, Maine Portland is the List of cities in Maine, most populous city in the U.S. state of Maine and the County seat, seat of Cumberland County, Maine, Cumberland County. Portland's population was 66,215 as of 2019. The Portland metropolitan area, Maine, ...
, LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and went live on August 29, 2005. As of February 2021, it has 2,600,000 users and over 155 million books catalogued.


The primary feature of LibraryThing ("LT") is the cataloging of books, movies, music and other media by importing data from libraries through Z39.50 connections and from six Amazon.com stores. Library sources supply Dublin Core and MARC records to LT; users can import information from over 2000 libraries, including the
British Library The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and is one of the largest libraries in the world. It is estimated to contain between 170–200 million items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British ...

British Library
Canadian National Catalogue
Canadian National Catalogue
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the '' de facto'' national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The l ...
National Library of Australia The National Library of Australia (NLA), formerly the Commonwealth National Library and Commonwealth Parliament Library, is the largest reference library in Australia, responsible under the terms of the ''National Library Act 1960'' for "mainta ...
, and
Yale University Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The term ''Ivy ...
. Should a record not be available from any of these sources, it is also possible to input the book information manually via a blank form. Each work may comprise different editions, translations, printings, audio versions, etc. Members are encouraged to add publicly visible reviews, descriptions, Common Knowledge and other information about a work; ratings, collections and tags help categorization. Discussion in the forums is also encouraged. Items are classified using the Melvil Decimal System, based on the out-of-copyright 1922 edition of the
Dewey Decimal Classification The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), colloquially the Dewey Decimal System, is a proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Originally described in a four-page pamphlet, it has been ...
with modifications for standard spelling of division names (as opposed to the original names, which were spelled in accordance with Dewey's advocated spelling reforms), and modernised terminology.

Social features

LibraryThing's social features have been compared to bookmark manager
and the collaborative music service Last.fm. Similar book cataloging sites include aNobii, BookLikes, Goodreads, Libib, Shelfari [now merged with Goodreads], and weRead.


In 2016 LibraryThing launche
an Online public access catalog, OPAC designed for the cataloging and circulation of libraries of up to 20,000 items. TinyCat is marketed towards small independent libraries, such as schools, community centers, religious institutions, academic departments, as well as individuals.


LibraryThing is majority owned by founder Tim Spalding. Online bookseller AbeBooks bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum. AbeBooks became a subsidiary of Amazon in 2008. In January 2009, Cambridge Information Group acquired a minority stake in LibraryThing, and their subsidiary R. R. Bowker, Bowker became the official distributor to libraries.


At the end of June 2006, LibraryThing was subject to the Slashdot effect from a ''The Wall Street Journal, 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 over its UnSuggester feature, which draws suggestions from books least likely to appear in the same catalog as a given book.

See also

* Bibliographic database * Collective intelligence * Crowdsourcing * Enterprise bookmarking * Folksonomy * List of social networking services * Online public access catalog, OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) * Tag (metadata), Tags * Virtual community


Further reading

* Wenzler, J
LibraryThing and the library catalog: adding collective intelligence to the OPAC
''A Workshop on Next Generation Libraries''. San Francisco State University CARL NITIG; September 7, 2007. * Hvass, Anna (2008)
Cataloging with LibraryThing: as easy as 1,2,3!
''Library Hi Tech News'', 25 (10), pp. 5–7.

External links

* {{amazon Companies based in Maine Library 2.0 American book websites Internet properties established in 2005 Amazon (company) Social cataloging applications Multilingual websites 2005 establishments in Maine American companies established in 2005