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Creator of LibraryThing.com to Visit Fogler Library

Contact: Gretchen Gfeller, (207) 581-1696

ORONO–What do you do in Maine with a graduate degree in Greek and Latin studies? Well, in the case of Tim Spalding, who also honed skills as a web developer and publisher, you launch www.LibraryThing.com. Originally created as a way for Spalding to catalog his own library, he did not realize the site–launched in August of 2005–would begin to garner national attention, including recent articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Wall Street Journal. Spalding was also named one of this year’s “Movers and Shakers” by Library Journal.

Spalding will be talking about LibraryThing and all of its recent developments when he visits the University of Maine’s Fogler Library on April 1 from 3-4 p.m. Spalding’s presentation is being co-sponsored by the Friends of Fogler Library, the UMaine Department of English, and the New Media Program.

Based in Portland, Maine, LibraryThing is an online service that allows booklovers to create catalogs of their own libraries that can be accessed from any location with an Internet connection. Users can add books by entering titles, authors, or ISBN numbers. LibraryThing then searches the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, the British Library, and over 250 world libraries for cataloging information about the book. The site can generate recommendations for future reading based on library selections, and there is an option to join a social space to connect to other people with similar libraries. Some have called it the “MySpace” or “Facebook” for books.

Recently, the site added a new “Local” section which provides a map of literary venues wherever you live, be it Bangor or Paris. Tim Spalding explains within the site’s blog, “LibraryThing Local is a handy reference, but it’s also interactive. You can show off your favorite bookstores and libraries (e.g., mine include the Harvard Bookstore, Shakespeare and Company and the Boston Athenaeum) and keep track of interesting events. Then you can find out who else loves the places you do, and who else is going to events.”

“What I love about Tim’s project with LibraryThing,” says UMaine Associate Professor of English Steve Evans, “is that it demonstrates that bibliophiles need not be technophobes. Basically it takes the culture of reading and book collecting and gives it the digital platform it deserves: one that enriches the literacy not just of individual readers, but of whole communities. Some of these already existed, while some are emerging within and because of the new media context. These communities now have a new instrument for connecting with one another on the basis of a shared passion for literature. I’ve already put more than a thousand books of poetry from my own collection on-line, and added the UMaine New Writing Series to the new ‘local’ feature. Having Tim Spalding visit the UMaine campus offers us an great opportunity for exploring the future of literacy in the digital world.”

Spalding’s presentation will be held in the Special Collections Department of Fogler Library. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

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