Have just discovered Library Thing "an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone—. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth." You can catalogue 100 books for free, with instant sign-up. There is a crude search function of various catalogues, including Library of Congress, National Library of Scotland and Amazon. Only the title is displayed after search, which is irritating when you are trying to pick a specific edition. The display options of the bibliographic and other details are also limited to 7 elements. You can add tags and reviews. You can also see who else catalogued this book, and what other books are tagged like this one. It appears already to have a good number of users.
Am trying to think whether this can be tied to information literacy ..... in that it's social, and on the web, it could perhaps help people to understand how catalogues work, by creating their own. There is some clunkiness (e.g. the first set of tags on my trial book disappeared), admittedly the service is in beta.
Actually it's mostly the idea of non-librarians doing derived cataloguing (I even saw a reference to the MARC format somewhere on the site - though Library Thing wasn't created by a librarian) which I find a little mind-blowing. Although, from the "author cloud", where Pratchett, Tolkein, Rowling etc feature in very large letters, the users are probably not representative of the entire population (in fact I probably fit in pretty well to this nerd/ bookish/ librarian profile). Website is at http://www.librarything.com/
Phot by Sheila Webber: Shark egg case, shore, Port Julia, South Australia June 2006.