One idiosyncrasy I possess is examining the idea of duality. Perhaps it began at birth with my dual citizenship, continued with my bilingual education in university, and currently sees itself in my two children.
Doug Johnson’s post articulates my Teacher-Librarian duality issue when he speaks of the divide between the lit and the research teacher-librarians. Although the vast majority of educators that I follow fall into the tech/research category, it would seem that the majority still see the role of the Teacher-Librarian as solely being the keeper of the books. This post will explore the fusion of these two worlds.
One of the major challenges at my school is communication. In the past, I used to share the new acquisitions to my collection in staff meetings or book talk my collection with English classes. With fewer opportunities for our staff to meet as a whole and instructional time eroded by assessments, I needed to create a forum available to my staff and students to share new books in the library. To this end, I began by looking for tools that would help me communicate on my web site. I wanted a tool that could easily log my books, provide a widget for my web site, and update automatically.
My first stop was LibraryThing. LibraryThing is a robust Web 2.0 site that allows for easy input of books, by manual input of ISBN or by the handy $15 CueCat scanner. I add tags for categorization, rate using a star system, and can add a review. Helpful information such as all of the tags and member reviews of that book are listed below its entry, as well as the ratings given by various members. Here’s an example of a LibraryThing page for An abundance of Katherines by John Green.
What caused me to abandon LibraryThing was the flaky nature of its widget. I found that on the school library web site that the widget didn’t always load in properly. Reliability was questionable at best. It should be mentioned that I haven’t returned recently, so perhaps these issues have been resolved.
Due to the questionable reliability, I migrated to GoodReads. Again, I found that inputting books into its database was quite easy. I requested and was given librarian status within the service, which allowed me to change/add data into the site. This was necessary, as some of my entries, particularly of academic books, lacked cover images. GoodReads pages for each book is not as robust as those of LibraryThing, but my colleague, Chris Wilkie, liked the fact that GoodReads sent my recommendations to her via e-mail. Here’s an example of a GoodReads page for An abundance of Katherines by John Green.
Overall, from my experiences with both services, these book club Web 2.0 services are both valuable tools. It should be mentioned that, because LibraryThing is ad-free, it is a paid service after the first 200 books, but it is a lifetime membership for $25 or $10/year if you want to try it. GoodReads is supported by advertising and is free to use. Both services serve well to share information with students and staff, and would aggregate reviews that we create for ourselves.
My decision to choose GoodReads was largely due to the stability of its widget for use on my web site; however, I intend to retry LibraryThing shortly, as its widgets, richness of data, and ad-free environment are superior for school libraries.