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My library work and personal life generally co-exist peacefully together, often reinforcing one another. However, there are moments when the two sides of my brain have to duke it out. One such moment is when I have to explain to a patron that the minute a book is returned, the library holds no record that you ever had the book out.

The librarian in me says this is crucial for the privacy of our patrons and our ability to uphold the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics which states “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

The reader in me recognizes the anguish on a patron’s face, as they try desperately to remember the title of an important work they read just last month! We all want to be able to peruse a list of things we have read to spark our memory or make a suggestion to a friend.

My solution: LibraryThing A website that allows us all to create a record of not only what we have read but what we would like to read. Once you have set up a free account, it only requires seconds per title to keep a running list. The list can include title, book jacket, author, dewey number (warms my heart), tags, reviews, and other reader’s comments.

Below is an example of how your list might look:

LibraryThing - Catalog your books online_1248289372108

If you have a book wishlist already started on Amazon, LibraryThing can import that list to save you typing time.

Once you have begun a catalog of the books you have read, or just want to remember to read, you can also use LibraryThing to get suggestions for other books or to share your reading list with friends. If you have a blog or website, you can also use a Library Thing widget to generate a slideshow of book jackets on your list!