Saturday, 23 May 2009

More Thoughts on Library Programs

Hilarie left the following comment on my last post:

I enjoyed your opinions on Shelfari and LibraryThing. I am fairly new to both communities and found your comparison interesting. I find Shelfair to be more user friendly, and the interface is less intimidating than LibraryThing. I do have to agree with you that I have been surprised at some books Shelfari has not recognized.

This got me to thinking about Shelfari again and about why one person finds it more user friendly than another and I think I might have the answer. Shelfari is a fairly simple program. It does what it says and gives most people what they really need. The Library Thing is a bit more complicated. I think the reason I like complicated more is because it's what I'm used to. We have a company data base at work that's getting more and more and more complicated all the time. This has its drawbacks, particularly in lack of user-friendliness, but also it's advantages. It's advantages are that you can do so much more with the data. Create a filter here, there and everywhere to filter out data so you can complete tasks more quickly and give faster, better answers to customers. Use it once, and the next time something pops up, you turn to it again and create a new filter for more information gathering. The more you use it, the more you start to rely on it being there. I think that's why I had such a difficult time with Shelfari. I spent ages looking for things that aren't there, like how do I search my own collection? That feature's not available, but I couldn't even fathom not having it, so I spent quite a while looking for it and became quite frustrated with A, it's not being obvious where to find it and B, it's not being available at all. The Library Thing is more complicated, but has more features, like better searches, more references, more viewing options etc. This is what I'm used to, so it's what I like. Someone else who just wants a list of their books with a friendly community would be better off with Shelfari.

I'm also sure that the list of books both programs recognize will grow in future. The Library Thing does recognize more at the moment, but that's because it offers searches for many more databases. Again, this is important for me because I buy books from virtually every Amazon available (usually Germany, England or France), or from book stores here in Switzerland, who in turn purchase their books from all over the world. Shelfari doesn't offer this at the moment, but if you purchase all of your books in the US, that's not going to make a difference for you.

So basically, it's really just a question of needs and taste. I think there's a place for both programs, and if it's like the rest of the net, many people will be using both anyway. e.g., how many blogs do you have? :P

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