Some time ago, Alicia over at Love2Learn suggested I give Library Thing a try. She raved and raved about it, but I just couldn't see the point. Finally, I signed up and now I'm hooked. It is a very cool service.
Here's how it works. You set up an account (the easiest set up on the entire Internet!) and then start cataloging books. The free service allows you to catalog up to 200 books. To catalog any more on one account, you need to buy a membership. It's $10 for one year or $25 for a lifetime membership. You can also set up several free accounts (one for yourself, one for the kids, etc.).
But, why, oh why, would you want to catalog your books? For one thing, it's fun! There are places for comments, ratings, catagorizing, reviews, etc. You can sort your list by title, author, rating, or just about anyway you would like. (I just love lists!)
You can even see which members share your books. For example, I clicked on The Catholic Homeschool Companion and found that Alicia has it in her library.
Note: If you like, you can set up your account to be private so other people can't peek. My Library Thing is public so you can see a sampling in the sidebar of this blog. I also have a Library Thing set up at The Thrifty Homeschool blog and the teenagers have one set up over at Unrecognized Talent. It's too fun to share!
On a practical note, Library Thing is an user-friendly system to keep track of your inventory. I don't know how many times I've purchased a book I already owned. Also, if I loan out a book to a friend, I could make a note to myself on Library Thing in the book's comment section. Additionally, you can search Library Thing on your cell phone, so if you're at the book store you can check to see if a particular title is already in your personal library.
One more example of Library Thing's practical application. Our Science Olympiad team has put together a nice library of science books for team members to borrow. However, keeping track of books and knowing which ones are best for what events was difficult at best. We're in the process right now of getting the Science Olympiad library cataloged on Library Thing. We use the comments section to track the location of the book, the review section to indicate how to use the book in preparing for competition, the tag section to show what event the book is for, and the rating section to show it's usefulness. It's an almost perfect system.
I only have 60 books cataloged to date, so I have a long way to go yet. But I'll get to it eventually.