Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Library, For All To See

The internet is a great thing. What would Jonathan Edwards have done with the world at his fingertips? I bet he would have taken advantage of LibraryThing to catalogue his 300 books.

Well, maybe not. In case you haven't heard of it, LibraryThing is an online service that will catalogue your library. I have long been wanting to have an electronic copy of my library and have feared for years the hard work it would take to actually type in all my books. As my library has grown, I have seen the need to have my books in a database. For several reasons:

1. In case of a tragedy like a fire or flood. Last year, when Hurricane Rita was barrelling in on Beaumont, my fear was that I would come back to a flooded office. My books would be blown away and gone forever. LibraryThing won't protect my books in a catastrophe, but it will give me a print out of all my books to hand to the insurance adjuster (which is almost as good). Without a record of all these books, would the insurance company believe me? Well, now I don't have to find out the answer to that question.

2. For remembering what I have. I didn't used to have this problem. I can remember a time when I could have told you every book on my self. However, I cannot anymore. In fact, just the other day someone asked if I had a particular book. I couldn't remember if I had it or not. Turns out I did own it. If I had LibraryThing, I could have gotten on any internet connection and looked it up from anywhere in the world.

3. For studying particular subjects. It is hard to know how to arrange a library. By author, subject, title? Often, I am studing a particular subject and wonder what I have that deals with it. For example, say I'm studying the foreknowledge of God. I have a section in my office of books that deal with the attributes of God. I also have a section of Reformed and Puritan works. Which section do I put a book like "Still Sovereign" which deals with issues relating to God's sovereignty? Do I put it in the attributes of God section or the Reformed section? If I put it in one or the other, I might miss it when I'm looking for books that deal with the foreknowlege of God. Well, with LibraryThing I can put it in both! This might turn out to be the most valuable tool.

4. My library is not getting any smaller. The more books I get the farther I'm getting from having a catalogue of my books. So, now that I have my current library catalogued, I can easily add individual volumes that I get in the future.

5. So that friends can know what I have (for the purpose of borrowing). See, I'm thinking about you. If you are sitting around one day and wonder, "Does Justin have a biography of Jonathan Edwards," you can get on LibraryThing and find out. Or, if you are studying The Song of Songs and wonder what commentaries I have on it, you can easily find out.

6. So that friends can know what I have (for the purpose of giving me books). Rob always tells me he doesn't know what to get me because he doesn't know if I have a particular book or not. Now there is no doubt.

OK, to access my library, go here. Or just go to LibraryThing and search for pastorJustin. You may find other features that interest you. And let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Hi! Justin,

Thank you for this! This is cool! I will have to share this with my family. I will do mine. I just can't wait when I got the time to do this. I will let you dig into my library too.

Eating His Word,
Bold Lion

Anonymous said...

I'd like to borrow all the biographies, the 22 books on Edwards, and the THREE copies of Desiring God. I'll return them next Friday.

How long did it actually take to create this site?


justin said...

LB, it may take you a couple weeks to read all 68 of the biographies.

It didn't take that long at all. Maybe 3 or 4 hours total. I just sat at my desk and either typed the first few words of a title or the ISBN # and Library Thing pulled up the book.

Rob Tombrella said...


I'm excited now about the fact that I have sent you a book that you don't have--and you should.

Expect it in the next couple of days and know that I am praying for you and this great work in Wilson.