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Highlighting that the library is for a dead person.

Legacy Libraries

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Sep 4, 2007, 6:40am Top

Should there be a special status for dead writer's libraries rather than the LT Author badge (which Danilo Kis has)? They don't use the site as a living writer would and when it gets down to the long-dead we probably view our connections to their library somewhat differently. Also some of the targets for cataloguing may be people who didn't write anything significant but were collectors.

Sep 4, 2007, 6:52am Top

Same badge but the wording of "LT Tribute Library" ?

Sep 4, 2007, 8:21am Top

Wasn't someone saying something about "extended lifetime membership" and LT conferring Immortality? :-)

I think a "Libraries of the Dead and Famous" list would be good.

Sep 4, 2007, 8:31am Top

Hmm, yes, some sort of badge would seem to be in order, wouldn't it?

I like both "LT Tribute Library" or "Extended Lifetime Member"

Sep 4, 2007, 9:32am Top

LJ has "memorial accounts" for dead people.

Sep 4, 2007, 10:45am Top

"Everlasting Lifetime Member"? ;-)


Sep 4, 2007, 10:57am Top

For now we could go with Dead, White and mostly European Males.

Sep 4, 2007, 11:12am Top

This whole living/dead divide smacks of discrimination. MUST we be so isolationist? Immortal works, I Am Thou--and so many zombies around too.

I vote against "dead" labels. What's the point?

Sep 4, 2007, 11:28am Top

I gather that libraries of the deceased are not being entered because the deceased is deceased, but rather because the deceased has some enduring historical significance, whether political, literary, scholarly, &c.

Perhaps theirs could be labelled, "Historical libraries"?

Sep 4, 2007, 11:30am Top


They are personal libraries.

If I kick the bucket tonight, will my library become "historical" too?

Sep 4, 2007, 11:39am Top

>If I kick the bucket tonight, will my library become "historical" too?

No, but your lifetime account will lapse and your estate will have to pay again.

Sep 4, 2007, 11:40am Top

I suggested a list of these libraries, similar to the list of LT authors, because one is unlikely to stumble across them among all of the other "personal libraries" on LT.

I still like "Libraries of the Dead and Famous," (as a play on "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous") but any name that tells what the list is would be ok with me.

Edited: Sep 4, 2007, 11:42am Top

I like "historical libraries". I think there's a difference between someone who entered their own library and then died and someone who was already dead when other people catalogued their books. Basically, the latter is likely to be of general interest and the former isn't.

Sep 4, 2007, 11:43am Top

>10 LolaWalser:

Remember, lifetime accounts grant immortality!

Edited: Sep 4, 2007, 11:46am Top

I like labeling as "memorial account" rather than "dead". ... a memorial collection is a pretty different concept than an individual's own collection, chosen to be entered. Very different social networking features, very different intent of catalog, and a third-party involvement that is otherwise invisible.

This might affect
* leaving notes - People ought to know to whom they're writing (more or less); if it's *not* a living writer, then they should know that
* what's in the collection - The collection is (likely) entered by someone other than the collector. So the choices and errors are those of the third-party, not the named collector/LT member. For instance, someone might not have chosen, for themselves, to include just the books in their personal library; they might have included books they've read, or excluded certain books. Errors stemming from direct interaction with the collection might crop up; editions, covers, etc.

A few other musings:

The whole issue also raises interesting questions of consent & privacy. Sure, we're not so worried about Thomas Jefferson who is long dead, but what about a recently deceased person? Or someone who is not dead at all and doesn't know their collection is posted? or doesn't fully understand what it means? ... It could get a little creepy, actually. Celebrity stalking ... Revenge postings of the ex-spouse's collection ... Etc. Having a tag for the collection at least helps to establish the norm that third-person collections should be tagged. Making it a "memorial collection" tag helps establish a norm that third-party collections should be of *dead people*.

(Copyright issues also occurred to me. An exhibition or collection catalog is inherently a collection of bibliographic, arranged in a particular way (usually alphabetical). Copyright on them is thin. However, selection and arrangement have *some* copyright. If the Thomas Jefferson Library has posted a *selective* collection catalog, then the elements of originality in their selection are copyrighted. If copyrighted, then the question is whether or not there is a fair use (or other) defense here. Labeling wouldn't strictly affect the copyright analysis but it has a good odor to people looking at things like that.)

Sep 4, 2007, 11:48am Top

Well, if my Uncle Fred dies, and I then catalog his books on LT, I don't think that it will be of general interest, or should rate as an historical library. (Or that it should get a free account, as I understand Thomas Jefferson will.)

Sep 4, 2007, 11:53am Top

>10 LolaWalser:

I dunno; do you have some enduring historical significance, whether political, literary, scholarly, &c.?

(For scientists, I'm thinking Newton or Einstein-level 'enduring historical significance,' not merely Nobel-Prize-winning significance. Although an Ig Nobel Prize should certainly count {Homosexual necrophilia in the mallard — you can't make this stuff up}.)

Sep 4, 2007, 12:07pm Top

Susie Bright, the sexologist, has cataloged here some of the books belonging to her late father, Bill Bright, the linguist (but combined with some evangelist dude). I dunno whether this is tribute or inheritance. (I hope it's not creepy to point this out, since they're both famous.)

Sep 4, 2007, 1:01pm Top


I dunno, who made you the judge of historical interest?


Basically, the latter is likely to be of general interest and the former isn't.

Why should we care about "general interest"? If Britney Spears started cataloguing on LT, her library would no doubt be judged of greater "general interest" than Swedenborg's. There are libraries interesting in and of themselves, whether the owners, famous or not, are living or dead. And the library of someone currently obscure might become interesting if they gain fame (or notoriety). Point is, we can't know what's going to be of "general interest" tomorrow, and even if we did, there's not much interest in "general interest".

But, to return to the thread's topic, I still have to see any compelling reason to "highlight" that these libraries belong to someone now dead. Wouldn't that information be made apparent on the profile page, as a matter of course?

I'm against some "club of the deads", too. Let's see, the current candidates include Kis, Jefferson, Faulkner and Bill Bright. I'm sure it makes perfect sense to the crazy. :)

Sep 4, 2007, 1:33pm Top

I don't feel particularly strongly about this either way; I wouldn't be opposed to some sort of badge, but also think, as LolaWalser notes, that the profile context would suffice.

And yes, that quartet (Kis, TJ, Faulkner, Bill Bright) is a mighty odd combination, isn't it?

Sep 4, 2007, 1:51pm Top

While badges of honor or the like don't strike me as necessary, I do think the idea of a "Club of the Dead" sounds interesting. I'm kind of thinking of a screenplay featuring a half- Borges, half- Freddy zombie who collects libraries by killing off their owners. The ghosts of his victims assemble as the LT Club of the Dead to seek their revenge and reclaim their books.

Sep 4, 2007, 1:53pm Top

>21 A_musing: - haha oh boy that's a frightening thought ...

Sep 4, 2007, 2:10pm Top

>19 LolaWalser:

If nothing else, it would make it easy to list, and therefore to see, whose/whats libraries were added to LT under this initiative. It would be easier than having to use the search page, for which success requires knowing the correct search terms.

As for the question of vitality, it's more a proxy for access to intellectual property than it is a criterion. Living people, and estates of dead ones, get to decide whether to LT their libraries or not; and libraries, however interesting, of non-persons, are covered under the LT-for-orgs side of things. So the only ones available to this initiative are, practically speaking, those for which the information is in the public domain. This avoids potential problems (trespassing, breaking & entering, hacking) that might accompany efforts at involuntary inclusion of non-public-domain library info.

As for people who become interesting later, I just want to say it's a damned shame that we'll never, ever be able to add their libraries to LT; or, if they're already entered, that it'll be impossible to add their names to the list, or give them a badge, or whatever.

(N.B. I'm no mere judge of historical interest — I'm a – that is to say, the – judge of "enduring historical interest." I even made a certificate that says so.)

Sep 4, 2007, 2:58pm Top

I for one would rather we enter Britney's library than Swedenborg's. Although I got interested in him making this site, I don't read Swedish and I suspect Britney's would take less time to enter.

Also, I really want LibraryThing mentioned in InTouch magazine.

Edited: Sep 4, 2007, 3:12pm Top


You're just hoping Britney Spears will become an LT author - she has, after all, written not one but two books, each owned by more than one Thingamabrarian.

(But I can't get the touchstones to work)

Edited: Sep 9, 2007, 12:52am Top

Actually I think a very good use of LT would be for a catalog of a recently deceased person's books. It would enable executors and heirs to see what was available for dividing, and even facilitate that by allowing heirs to "tag" an interest in a particular book.

My personal library is in a large part the result of several generations of rabid book-collecting and was my chosen "share" of a much larger collection. It was daunting to have to go through many thousands of books in situ and decide which to choose. It would have been much easier to have had access online and time to ponder (and check my existing collection) before selecting.

Having twice inherited a significant number of books in the last decade I can see that having an up-to-date LT catalog would simplify things for my eventual (hopefully long in the future) heirs.

As a practical matter, the dec. person's catalog could be made private with the password available to the set of heirs so they could tag the books as desired, or add comments relating to the proposed division. Or the entire library could be duplicated in separate LT accounts for each heir for their individual perusal and choosing, then the selections sorted out by the executors who could make decisions in the event of competing claims.

Altogether an efficient way to handle a part of an estate with often thousands of individual items which must be considered one by one.

Once my collection is fully entered and the entries well-groomed, I think I'll make a note in my papers of my LT user name and password.

And since some LT users have taken to listing non-book items in their catalogs (the contents of kitchen cabinets were included in one library I saw), you could expand this to cover all the items in the estate......


Feb 3, 2008, 12:50pm Top

If I kick the bucket tonight, will my library become "historical" too?

No, but your lifetime account will lapse and your estate will have to pay again.

The thought so alarmed me that I immediately went to find out out how to export my library catalog to a .csv file, just in case! (But how will LT know I've expired?)

Wondering if, in my later years, I should tag my books according to the person I would like to inherit them?

Feb 3, 2008, 3:33pm Top

A side issue, but I didn't think it was worth starting a new thread for - what is the general view on dead people and "friending"?

There are a couple of friend requests on Marie-Antoinette's page, and my first thought was to point out to them politely that the Queen was in no position to be friends with anyone, having been dead for some time, but then I saw that Jefferson has a whole long list of friends. Have we decided that necrophilia is OK?

Feb 3, 2008, 3:37pm Top


Thomas Jefferson and I are friends - what are you suggesting?

It gives me a little chuckle to see whom the dead befriend, and can make navigating to the dead beloved's page easier.

As to identifying libraries of deceased figures, I've got a new idea: how about just referring to them as "The Immortals"?

Edited: Feb 3, 2008, 3:59pm Top

28: TJ got so many friend requests (not to mention comments) that I decided to just give in and accept them. I have to remember to sign in on his page once every few days just to clear out all the "interesting library" and friend messages he gets. I think it's up to whoever catalogues each library whether they want to allow friends or not. And "necrophilia" is a little harsh - let's just chalk it up to appreciation, shall we?

29: I like "The Immortals" idea very much.

Feb 3, 2008, 4:09pm Top

Yeah, the dead are generous about their friendships, I think.

Feb 3, 2008, 4:23pm Top

#25 - I have also been thinking about who I would like to get my books when I am gone and wondered about tagging them here with the persons name. Glad to know it's not just me thinking about this.

I'm also wondering how LT will know I've expired when the time comes. I'm hoping there isn't a too small time limit on my lifetime membership. I'd be upset to log on one day to a message saying "We thought you were dead, you owe us $20.00 to be resurrected."

Feb 3, 2008, 4:36pm Top

>30 jbd1:,31
Well, I don't suppose it does any harm, although the friendships are likely to be a bit one-sided...

Feb 12, 2008, 2:05pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 12, 2008, 2:07pm Top

How about "The Book(s) of the Dead"?

Though I'm sympathetic to the poster who decried the inherent living/dead discrimination, and tags like "immortals" carry so much more connotative weight, there remains the pesky fact that the authors in question are, in fact, dead. Further, it is this very fact of deadness that has given rise to the need to distinguish these authors from the other, non-dead LT Authors.

Feb 12, 2008, 2:27pm Top

I think the main distinction isn't living vs. dead, but entered by that person vs. entered by someone else.

Feb 12, 2008, 6:19pm Top

I'd suggest just "interesting libraries" or something neutral like that. I'd stay away from "immortal" and other valuation terms.

Feb 12, 2008, 9:22pm Top

Yeah maybe the way Tim's got it up on the stats page now ("Special Libraries") is the way to go ...

Feb 12, 2008, 9:23pm Top

Yeah maybe the way Tim's got it up on the stats page now ("Special Libraries") is the way to go ...

Feb 13, 2008, 7:00am Top

You can say that again!

Feb 13, 2008, 7:04am Top

Heh. Whoops.

Feb 13, 2008, 7:09am Top

Your library came up three times yesterday for hits in the Bs with Doctor Johnson... Boccaccio, Burton, and Butler. Doesn't mean that touchstones will work, though.

Feb 13, 2008, 12:26pm Top

What about 'Legacy Library'?

Feb 13, 2008, 2:34pm Top

Feb 15, 2008, 1:03am Top

tim, i do think you have chewed more than you can bite on this one.

i just read all the above thread entries and now have a splitting headache. please, Keep It Simple, Simon! Just put the words "memorial library" after the name, e.g., Thomas Jefferson memorial library.
For Yehweh's sake, don't call them immortal. You already have a coiuple of memorial libraries of deceased persons of whom I've never heard.
Who is Kis?
And when did the Bights or Brights get famous?
And I didn't know Brittany could write.
Sure they weren't ghosted?

Ya know, Mr. S., you spend your staff's time on this stuff and you begrudge lil ole me the statistical position of where my library is in relation to the other 36,800 or so. I mean, isn't it as easy to put the libraries in numericql order as it anything else on ZEITGHEIST?

Or at least provide a place on the personal LT site under STATS for library position number!!!

Feb 15, 2008, 4:26am Top

I like the alliteration in "Legacy Library", but I'm a bit worried that "legacy" as modifier tends to be used in institutional English in the sense of "bad old stuff that we have to keep on supporting for a while for political reasons" (as opposed to "heritage" - stuff we can charge extra for because it's old).

Feb 15, 2008, 10:37am Top

Ha! That's true! I even work in a musem and did not think of that. LT with 'heritage' would maybe be pretty cool. But the word may be too long to look uncramped inside the badge. Anyway... I do like Legacy for the sake of simplicity and conveying the idea that these people have passed, these are the books they owned.

Feb 15, 2008, 7:32pm Top

I like "legacy library" quite a lot. Bonus points for alliteration!

Edited: Feb 18, 2008, 4:48pm Top

About # 18:They belong to her now. . . OK to tag them as "Inherited" as opposed to purchased, which is more or less taken for granted (unless one says "Gift from. . .") I would not split so many hairs.

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