You may now see my heretical/boring reading selections at: http://www.librarything.com/profile/adasiak. There are only the five required items in my “catalog” right now, but pretty soon I’ll have to cough up the $25 for a lifetime of unlimited cataloging. This tool is just too delicious.
The most fun thing about LibraryThing — which Tim Spalding presumably picked up from Jeff Bezos — is the ability to see what other people who own a particular book, are themselves reading. (Of course, this is inaccurate. All we know is that they have added something to their “collection”: associated a username with a title with a number of tags. That doesn’t actually tell you they’ve read things on their lists.)
For all our pretensions to uniqueness, when we’re considered against the aggregate mass of humanity, we really tend to be predictable. That’s the genius of LibraryThing (or Amazon): your tastes are bound to overlap largely with somebody else’s, and you’re bound to find something (maybe a lot of somethings) that fits your taste yet expands on your repertoire.
The really spiffy thing they’ve done is LibraryThing for Libraries, which allows libraries to keep standard bibliographic control (all bow down!) while benefiting from the “wisdom of the crowd”. For a given record, the OPAC will display the conventional bib record. Then, below that, it displays recommendations from LT’s “recommendations machine” — not all the top recommendations, but only those in the library’s collection. After that, it lists common tags associated with the book, in “tag cloud” format. The user who clicks one of these tags will retrieve a list of other books commonly given that tag — but, again, only those in the library’s collection. Thus, the user gets the benefit of nation-wide (even world-wide) opinion while being offered a bibliography of only those items physically present (which is often patrons want anyway).
The Danbury Library in Danbury, Connecticut, is the first library to implement this. It looks slick!