FAQs: Technical

Browser support

LibraryThing for Libraries OPAC enhancements are designed to run in Firefox 9.0+, Chrome, Internet Explorer 8.0+, and Safari 5.0+. While the enhancements may work in some older browser versions, they are not officially supported.


At any time, you can email questions to abby@librarything.com. It's great when you figure it out on your own, but don't get frustrated, we're here to help.

General installation questions

Why can't I see the enhancements in my catalog?

No books are showing up in the tag browser

Holdings Upload
Distinct ISBNs uploaded: 	18,505
Overlap with LibraryThing: 	16,160 (87%)
Last upload (history): 	May 18, 2011, 4:55am

Why can I see the titles (Tags, Similar Titles) but no data?

When I click on a link, why won't it work?

My account

How can I change the LTFL administrator password?

You can change it here. Log into LibraryThing with the LTFL administrator user first, if necessary.

Catalog Enhancements

Why do I sometimes see weird tags?

The tags here come from LibraryThing.com. LibraryThing members have applied over 86 million tags to their books. Because people are different, and can make anything they want a tag, you will occasionally run across a tag that's irrelevant, wrong, or just plain strange.

Why do books show up under the same tag, but they're not similar titles on LibraryThing?

Our similar books algorithm draws on five separate algorithms—similar tags are only one of these. The others are mostly based on overlap between personal collections—people who have X also have Y.

I used my LibraryThing account to tag a book. Why won't the tag show up in my OPAC?

There's no official capability for adding new tags with LTFL. We don't advertise that you can add tags to LTFL via LibraryThing.com, because the way tags are added to LTFL is complex, and adding tags doesn't show right away (unlike our reviews).

  1. LTFL shows up to the 20 most popular tags. So, if you're adding tags to Harry Potter, it's a drop in the bucket. It's not likely that your instance of adding 'butterbeer' on your LibraryThing account will make it popular enough to show in the top 20. That being said, if there's a book with no or few tags, your tags would show - eventually.
  2. The reason why tags sometimes don't show right away is because we moderate them first. If it's a popular term, and we've already OK'd it, then it would appear. If it's a word or phrase that hasn't been vetted by us already, then you wouldn't see it until we moderate it. Because we have hundreds of new tags added all the time, it may be a while.

To say that you can tag through LibraryThing is technically true. We aren't offering technical support for it, but we don't disallow it. The idea of creating a new enhancement that allows patrons (and librarians) to tag is something we're considering.

Why aren't I seeing recommendations? I looked it up and it has recommendations in LibraryThing.

The short answer is that it's usually because there aren't any similar titles on LibraryThing.com.

Often, we we have don't have many copies of the item in LibraryThing, it greatly affect recommendations. Generally, if a book is owned by less than 15 people, chances are greater that there won't be recommendations available for it.

In your LTFL account, under Configuration, you can change the option called Drop risky recommendations? This will pull up more recommendations for books with few copies in LibraryThing. The downside? A murder mystery may have the recommendation of an algebra textbook.

The long answer is if there aren't at least 15 or 20 copies of a book on LibraryThing, you're almost certain not to get any recommendations in LTFL even if you see some on LibraryThing, unless your configuration is set to 'Show All Recommendations'.

There would need to be at least 40 or 50 copies of a book on LibraryThing to get recommendations in LTFL if you're at the most conservative setting.

If you run into a book in your catalog that has similar titles in LibraryThing, but not in your catalog, you can email us with the title, and we can run the algorithms to manually check for recommendations.

There is a weird book recommendation. How can I fix it?

Sometimes, if a book isn't terribly popular, the items that will show up as recommendations will be based on minimal data. You can go into your account, into the configure tab, and change the "drop risky recommendations?" from "show all recommendations" to "drop only the riskiest recommendations".

If it's a fairly popular book, or changing the riskiness doesn't affect the recommendations, email abby at librarything.com - we can manually go in and affect the algorithms that produce the recommendations.

Some of the Other Editions aren't correct

Most often, this is due to the re-use of an ISBN by publishers. If an ISBN is truly tied to two completely separate books, there's not much we can do about it. Removing the offending ISBN from your bib page will cause the LTFL data to stop appearing though.

Reviews Enhancement

How do I moderate reviews?

Make sure you're signed in:

Once you're signed in, click to the Enhancements tab, and then click "Reviews" under Moderation on the left hand sidebar. That's where you'll see the reviews that need to be moderated. There are two buttons - accept or reject. Once a review is accepted, it will show up in your OPAC. If you reject it, the patron will continue to see the review when they're logged in, but no one else will see it. On the moderation page you can also see previously accepted and denied reviews and change them if you'd like. In the right-hand sidebar, you'll see links to navigate the unmoderated, moderated and rejected reviews.

How do I add more moderators?

To add moderators, the main account holder will need to log into LTFL and go to the the Reviews section of the Configure page, and click the "Create/manage moderator accounts" link.

If the person already has a LibraryThing account (for the main site), they can associate that account to moderate reviews. (It will not affect their LibraryThing account.) Otherwise, you can create them an account. (What this is doing is creating a LibraryThing account.)

On the Configure page, you can add more people to be alerted when there are reviews to moderate, by adding them in the "Email when moderation needed" text box, with commas between:

   catwhiz@ourlibrary.com, crankyITguy@ourlibrary.com

How do I delete a review?

In the moderation panel, you'll see the title of the item, the username (and email, if the patron has signed up with an email) and the content of their review. There are two options for you—accept or reject.

What if I accidentally accepted or rejected a review and I'd like to change it?

If you mistakenly accept or reject a review you'd like to change, you can. To the right of the moderation panel page, there's a set of links:

My Library
Unmoderated (2)
Moderated (61)
Rejected (7)
All reviews (70)

You can click each link to see the reviews that have been accepted or rejected. You can make them unmoderated again, or put them in the opposite category (rejected if it's accepted, or accepted if it's denied).

What if someone from another library adds a review to my library?

Because they're using your catalog, it's yours to moderate (if you moderate). The other library's name will show up in red.

Can someone who's not a patron at our library sign up to review?

Yes. They'll have to go to your OPAC every time to sign in and review items.

If my library doesn't buy the LTFL Reviews Enhancement, can I still sign up to review at another library?

Don't sign up for an account under another library unless you'd like that username to be associated with that library forever.

Shelf Browse

Do I have to show the mini-shelf?

Not at all. If you like, you can just include the link to the full screen version.

Can I change the wording or color?

Yup. Change the text of the Shelf Browse button, use CSS to change colors to match your OPAC, or change the size of the button altogether. See two libraries who have chosen just to show the link to full screen, but customized to their OPAC: Nelson Public Library or Burdekin Shire.

What about collections?

Shelf Browse can use your collection codes in conjunction with your call numbers to limit what appears in the Shelf Browser. If you’re looking at a book in a children’s collection, you see only other children’s books around that book, etc.

Series and Awards

Can I remove any awards data I don't want showing in my catalog?

Yes, both Series and Awards come with a moderation page. Click "series and awards" under Moderation on the Enhancements tab. From there you can search for a specific series or award/honor. For each one you can click to "Reject" (remove from the list that shows in your catalog), or to "Promote".

Can I add an award that is not shown?

Yes. If you do not see a particular award you wish to promote, you can use LibraryThing to populate a new award with information. Log in to LibraryThing.com with your LibraryThing for Libraries credentials and find an item that has won the award you want to create. Scroll down to the "Common Knowledge" section and add the award. Repeat this step with another item.

Awards do not show up in LibraryThing for Libraries until there are at least two items with that award.

If you have added several items to an award and it is still not appearing, please email abby@librarything.com with details, including the name of the award and the items you have added to the award.

Can I promote a certain award?

More about promoting, or spotlighting certain awards here.

Exporting and Uploading

Why do I need to send LibraryThing my library's data?

LibraryThing for Libraries does not integrate with your ILS on the back end. Basically, we need to know what you have so that we don't recommend books you don't have.

What format should I send?

You can send us data in two formats:

  1. A tab-delimited file containing ISBN, title and author.
  2. MARC21 or UNIMARC records.

MARC is a better option, if you can do it. The Shelf Browse enhancement depends on data besides ISBN, title and author (it requires call numbers, for one thing).

How much data should I send?

Send it all, or at least a very large piece with "coherence to it," like all your fiction, or all your history. LTFL works through "associations" between books, between tags, etc. With a small data set the "software" would work, but the data wouldn't. It would be blank, or it might give the 30th-best reading suggestion.

Anything else about format?

If a record doesn't have a valid ISBN, we will ignore it. You do not need to remove records without ISBNs. Both ISBN10s and ISBN13s are fine.

You can send one file or many.

Where do I send the data?

You upload the data to us via the "Upload ISBN" page at your account.

What else do you need?

To get book links working we need your OPAC's ISBN-parameterized URL, that is the URL-template for finding a particular ISBN. To our knowledge, all OPACs have such a thing. If you don't know yours, we can probably figure it out, given the vendor and version number of your OPAC.

Can we send MARC records?


What about updating our data?

At present you can update your ISBN data in two ways:

  1. Upload whole new file
  2. Upload incremental additions

We are not currently providing a feature to upload a "deaccession list" or to edit your ISBN list manually after uploading. If one or both prove useful, we can implement this.

What if our records have more than one ISBN?

Our code uses the first ISBN it recognizes. The LTFL data comes from the LibraryThing work page, so the paperback and hardback editions will have the same info.

The LibraryThing work page is the page that encompasses all editions. See an example [ http://www.librarything.com/work/11883 here].


(You'll want to email us to set up an account, so you can upload your data. Email abby@librarything.com to request an account.)

What sort of configurations does LTFL allow?

The enhancements are highly configurable. You can control settings like how many books are displayed in "similar books," the form of the links and what to display if a book has no enhancements. You can also change the CSS for every enhancement, and for every element in every enhancement.

You can choose to include cover images or not, to display data in a list form or in a grid, and more.

Find tips on customizing and configuring your enhancements here

How do I add cover images to the enhancements?

You can now choose to display cover images along with the title/author text. You can turn on cover images for Similar books, Other editions and translations, and in tag browser. In the tag browser, you can also choose to display a mini tag cloud for each book in the list, to give it a little context.

  1. In the LTFL admin pages, go to your Global Configuration page and fill in the cover image URL line. It uses whatever covers your library already uses in your OPAC (Syndetics, Content Cafe, etc.)
  2. Go to each enhancement’s configure page and click the “Show Covers” box, or the “Show Mini Tag Cloud in Tags Browser” box.

Read more in this blog post

How do I change the wording for the enhancements?

You can edit the heading text you see in the catalog Enhancements tab, and opening each enhancement's custom configure page. In the "HTML if success" box, enter something like this, making sure to include the [[WIDGET]] since that's what actually opens the enhancement itself:

<div class="bibInfoLabel">Similar Books</div><div class="widget_container">[[WIDGET]]</div>

What if my catalog uses https? Will LTFL display?

If your catalog is on https, you'll want to also call the LTFL javascript as https. So this line should begin with https:

<script src="https://ltfl.librarything.com/forlibraries/widget.js?id=xxx-xxxxxxxxxx" type="text/javascript"></script>

If your catalog switches between https and http (for example, if it moves to https when logged into a patron account), then you'll want your LTFL javascript to also switch accordingly. Enter the javascript line like this to enable that:

<script src="//ltfl.librarything.com/forlibraries/widget.js?id=xxx-xxxxxxxxxx" type="text/javascript"></script>

What if we use a firewall, proxy server, Deep Freeze or other computer moderation software?

LibraryThing does not make network connections in to your servers or clients, but they do need to be able to connect out to us to get our content. (The exception to this is Book Display Widgets, if you choose to have us use a webpage or an RSS feed as a data source, LibraryThing does need to be able to connect to that content to pull back the relevant data.)

Any client that should load our enhancements in the OPAC (such as locked-down OPAC terminals) need to be able to make HTTP/HTTPS requests to our servers at the following addresses:

The staff computer(s) used to upload bibliographic data to us needs to be able to make HTTP or FTP requests to our servers at the following addresses, as well as the addresses above:

If you're setting up your firewall rules by domain name, you should just allow HTTP connections to *.librarything.com. Specifically, the main code is coming from "www.librarything.com", the data that gets loaded comes from "ltfl.librarything.com" and the images come from "static.librarything.com".

For the computer used to upload data to us, add fileupload.librarything.com.

Libraries connecting to the Australian server will want to also include the following address:

We have two OPAC servers for our system. If we were to want to put LTFL on both servers, would this require a second LTFL account?

No. You can put the widgets and javascript into both servers, and they'll call the same data that we have for you. You may need to change your ISBN-based URL to not include the server name. Then the browser will "fill in the blanks" with whatever server you're currently on.


instead of



How can we test out LTFL?

We have a number of ways of testing LTFL without bringing it live on your OPAC:

  1. Many libraries have a "test OPAC" or a "test skin." This is the easiest way to test it out.
  2. You can install LTFL but leave it in "testing mode." In this mode, the content does not display unless "testing=1" is manually added to the OPAC url.
  3. We have made a number of Firefox Greasemonkey scripts, allowing libraries to see LTFL in action on your OPAC without changing any files on your end.

We can help you figure out the best option for your library.


Where can I see our statistics?

Log into your LTFL account (under 'sign in') here. Click on the 'Stats' tab near the top-left of the screen.

What do the statistics mean?


Feature Use

What do Book Display Widgets statistics mean?

How many widgets were loaded on a given day in TOTAL

How many widgets were loaded on a given day SEPARATED OUT BY WIDGET. So, if you only have one widget, the first two graphs are going to look the same. Conveniently, they are different colors and there is a legend with widget names at the bottom.

Shows how many times widgets were loaded on specific PAGES, separated by page. This is mostly helpful for those libraries who use the same widget on multiple pages, or to quickly show a page-based context for widgets.

How many times someone clicked on it. (Not sure if that includes clicking on arrows to mouse through, for example, 3d carousels or not.) Definitely included the times someone clicked through to the catalog.

Showing you over the whole time you've had them, a quick glance at percentage of widgets loaded. So, if you implemented them at different times, this could be a false indications.

The same thing, only with clicks.

Same as the loads and click by widgets, except it's tracking multi-widgets.


I used my LibraryThing account to tag a book. Why won't the tag show up in my OPAC?

As we filtered tags, we looked at what kind of tags a book has. To use Harry Potter as an example, many people have tagged it 'fiction' or 'magic'. Because people get to tag books with whatever they want, a book might have personal tags like 'blue shelf second row', or straight-up wrong tags like 'computer science'. By using popularity as an indicator at how 'right' the tags are, we sift out a lot of highly personal tags. So, for books in LTFL libraries to have new tags show up, the work must have a number of people who have all tagged it the same.

Library Anywhere

How does Library Anywhere work, exactly?

The short answer is "sophisticated screen-scaping."

The long answer is that what we're doing is like screen scraping the way oil portraiture is like house painting. Underneath Library Anywhere is a system that uses your library catalog as if it were a regular user, and a system for understanding the pages that you send. The system was not designed for one catalog, which would be potentially brittle and limited, but for literally hundreds. All the code is validated against dozens of systems, and revalidated constantly to prevent problems. The code is "flexible" in ways no single-OPAC product could be. You can do a lot to your catalog and Library Anywhere won't blink.

The advantages to this approach:

  1. Library Anywhere is simple. It requires no installation, uploads or maintenance. This is also why we can offer it so cheaply--we incur the same costs doing one catalog as 100.
  2. Library Anywhere is not a "separate" product. We don't reinvest your OPACs current features within a new platform, creating new points of failure and difference.
  3. Not being a "separate" product is also good for your users. Library Anywhere works like your catalog, and never deviates from it in functionality or content. New items are added to it the moment they are added to your regular catalog--with no uploads or reindexing necessary. Search results and display order are always identical between systems.

Book Display Widgets

How are Book Display Widgets ADA-compliant?

Book Display Widgets are compliant with ADA regulations in specific settings. For mobile-friendly, responsive widgets, libraries should set widgets to "auto-resize," which allows each widget to adjust to the size of the screen being used. Additionally, each image in our widgets has alternative text for screen readers. Testing has shown that the "carousel" display type is the most widely compliant display type. If you find an accessibility issue with one of our widgets, please let us know.