Personal Genealogy Library
While I have participated in some of the past genealogy challenges presented by GeneaBlogger's 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy even before I started blogging, this is the first prompt I have participated in that got me excited enough to actually write about. The challenge this week was perfect for those of us well-intentioned organized folks who have accumulated so much stuff that it seems nearly impossible to get it all together, but here it goes . . .
The challenge was to examine three online tools for cataloging our personal genealogy library -- LibraryThing, Good Reads and Shelfari -- "and see how genealogists use them".
I started out by taking the tour on LibraryThing. I liked the way books were presented as covers on a shelf; but I was impressed even more as I discovered its versatility in customizable lists. The site boasts that it "helps create a library-quality catalog of books." Many times when I am writing source data I have thought it might be so helpful to just look in one spot and find it all there, ready and waiting, in the format I need. The search engine accesses titles from 690 sources, and allows you to manually add titles not found. That was particularly good for me since I use many antiquarian texts, many of which I have only been able to find on WorldCat.org. But I was pleasantly surprised that many of the titles I had were already in the system because of the added feature of linking you to all the people who have also read the same sources.
Next I tried Shelfari. I immediately noticed that the graphics were more color-blocked and fresh looking, but could it stand up to to the test? The tour is more visual than Library Thing, and it seemed more in line with searching out popular titles that others are reading. I typed in "genealogy" in the title search and got a listing of popular how-to books. Nothing I was interested in. Then I browsed the groups and could not find a category for genealogy or family history. Doing a group search left me with four groups with a total of 22 members and 9 discussion posts. This may look like a flashy site, but unless I'm totally missing something here, it just doesn't make the cut.
The last site I tried I have been a member of since 2009. I started my GoodReads account because a librarian friend of mine on Facebook had posted what he was reading, and I kind of liked the idea. So I joined.For this challenge, however, I decided to go back to square one and go through the tour, just so I had a fair means of comparison.
What you get is a boring list with subtitles. I just wanted to scroll down to the bottom and skim the page . . . if I had to do it again, I don't think I would've ever signed up . . . at least not from their tour page. I updated my list by adding what I am currently reading, but noticed that I had not added a book since June 13, 2010. In searching for groups, there were no genealogy nor family history categories in the browse list. A search for a genealogy group led me to 6 groups with a total of 199 members. A little better than Shelfari, but it seems that LibraryThing is definitely the way to go.
I'm not usually a joiner, but a group search on Library Thing led me to thirteen active and eight dormant groups. From the list there were two groups I checked out and joined: Genealogy@LT with 336 members and Antiquarian Books with 118 members. The Discussion Boards are varied in topic, and again, there is something there that should grab your attention.
In all, I think this was a good challenge. It's certainly getting me on the path to catalog those obscure titles in PDF format on CD-ROM. Perhaps now I won't purchase any more duplicates, as I did with The Ancient History of North Yarmouth and Yarmouth, Maine, 1635-1936, by William Hutchinson Rowe.
And come see me on LibraryThing.
My handle is debraNC.