LibraryThing’s Flash Mob Cataloging Party

Flash-Mob Cataloging Party — A few weeks ago, this announcement on the LibraryThing blog caught my attention. Many church and other small organizations use LibraryThing to catalog their libraries, but it can be difficult for a single volunteer to get the collection entered. So, according to the blog, “…we thought we’d try a ‘flash-mob’ cataloging party and see how fast we can enter an entire library into LibraryThing.” Lucky for me, this event was happening nearby, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms. They put out the call for volunteers, and today about twenty of us gathered at the church and entered over 1,300 books into LibraryThing.

LibraryThing Flash-Mob Cataloging PartyIt was really great to participate in thie kind of event, and to think about how far LibraryThing has come in the past few years. In 2006, I participated in the NETSL Spring Conference, “Exploring the “Open” Universe”. I gave a breakout session called Playing Tag: Cataloging by the Crowd, showing examples of how organizational systems develop on crowd-based sites like Wikipedia, Flickr and LibraryThing. Almost all of the attendees had experience with Wikipedia, most knew something about Flickr, but few were familiar with LibraryThing.

LibraryThing Flash-Mob Cataloging PartyThat’s hard to believe, but this was just before the tipping point…a few months later, I think things would have been quite different. LibraryThing now has over 500,000 members and supports a lively community of people cataloging their collections, contributing reviews, and participating in groups on all sorts of book-related topics. The largest group is Librarians who LibraryThing, with over 5,000 members. LibraryThing has become a major force in the library world, participating actively in conferences, and providing a suite of library catalog enhancements through the LibraryThing for Libraries. But LibraryThing is still all about community — and today it was great to be part of that community face-to-face!

StJohnsBeverlyFarms — Here’s the church’s profile on LibraryThing

LibraryThing Flash-Mob Cataloging Party

One thought on “LibraryThing’s Flash Mob Cataloging Party

  1. Courtney Cowart

    To my fellow bibliophiles at St. John’s, greetings from a fellow Episcopalian on the staff of the Bishop of Louisiana, co-directing edola’s Office of Disaster Response in New Orleans. Imagine my surprise when this Internet novice in a feeble attempt to learn a bit more about what is possible for authors on the web ran across this amazing story! Perhaps you are the “smart mob” who those of us working in the recovery down here have been looking for. I am virtually certain that I recognize the name St. John’s Beverly Farms as a congregation who has supported our work before. Am I right? If I am maybe you can help us out with some advice. 2009 is the year that Episcopal Relief and Development radically cuts funding for our work. We are currently launching a national campaign to gather support for sustaining the work of building the Beloved Community from the ravages of the worst disaster in U.S. History. As main plank in our strategy is a book I have just written called An American Awakening – From Ground Zero To Katrina, the People We are Free To Be. It is receiving excellent reviews which you can read on my bookmark site at I have also set up a page on LibraryThing. The Thing Is – to make this book (whose proceeds go to supporting the ministries of rebuilding and social transformation) take off we need to do our own grass roots marketing campaign and it seems the web, and all the amazing New Media techniques that are possible through it and Twitter texting, etc., would be incredible ways of doing this. But we are novices when it comes to the power of the Internet to gather people behind efforts, and mobilize them like you have done. We have created the social network for “People Who Give a Damn” (as we irreverently say – we Louisianian Episcopalians are a little earthy) but we could use some help in building up its membership. I guess my first question ought to be whether St. John’s has An American Awakening in its library? How would we connect to Librarians Who Library Thing? And what other ideas might you have for us? Any ideas for how we might get a buzz going even just on Library Thing? As I think you know, the recovery in New Orleans has been very slow. Hopefully with a new administration in place the pace will pick up. We are committed to a shared fate with those brought low and no matter how long it takes we aren’t going anywhere. We need people of compassion around the country to understand that this is a place where thousands are just waiting for a call to join with the new leadership in Washington and prove how government in partnership with people can make great strides – to understand the big implications of the work down here that have to do with the soul of America. That’s the story the book tells. That is the story we are living. How would you suggest we use the book to spread understanding through the Internet and gather support? Your friend in New Orleans – Sacred Activist and Bibliophile, Courtney Cowart

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