Please answer LibraryThing related questions here (and on the other Help and FAQ pages). To ASK questions, however, please use Talk.
The short answer: Tags are a simple way to categorize books according to how you think of them, not how some official librarian does. Thus one person will tag the The DaVinci Code "novels" while another tags it "trashy, religion, mary," and still another only "summer home." Tags are particularly useful for sorting and searching by those concepts—i.e., when you need a list of all your novels or all the books at the summer home.
How do I tag?
Enter tags (they can be single words or phrases) in the tag box, separated by commas. Non-alphanumeric characters (such as "&", "+", and "-") are allowed in tags, but some of them may cause strange behavior in some contexts, especially if they're the first or last character in a tag or adjacent to a space. In particular, you will be unable to search for a tag containing these characters, thus negating what is probably the main utility of tags. If you're encountering problems with a tag that includes one of these characters, try editing it to remove the special character.
If you have to use a non-alphanumeric character, it is said that @ ! _ and ~ do not give rise to problems. Thanks to jjmcgaffey for this research.
See the Tag Combining page for more info.
How do I tag several books at once?
Use Power Edit -- see more details at http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=16422
Say, I want to see books tagged with "brazil" and "history".... Use the search modifier "tag:" repeatedly in your catalog search box, e.g.: tag:brazil tag:history
Currently [August 2011], this technique does not produce the expected results. Instead, try using the "What to Search" pull down box to the right of the search button to select "Tags", and then use a comma separated list of tag names. Alternatively it has been suggested that you might try using Power Edit to create a temporary collection of books with the first tag, and then search for books with the second tag within the temporary collection. And repeat as desired.
How do I change a tag on multiple books?
If you want to change all occurrences of a tag to something else (say you started tagging things "non-fiction" but wanted to change it to "nonfiction"), that can be accomplished using Power Edit.
- First, pull up a list of books using the old tag by clicking on it in catalog view.
- Switch into Power Edit mode by clicking the P/E button on your catalog's toolbar
- Select all books, and ADD the new tag.
- Make sure all books are still selected, THEN delete the old tag. It's important to do these two steps in order—if you delete the old tag first, your selected list of books will disappear and you will have to go through your entire catalog to re-select the appropriate books.
You can "watch" particular tags to get lists of books which were recently tagged with such a tag. This is a Home Page module.
You can view your tags page at
- Tag management page: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_tags.php?
- Original view: http://www.librarything.com/tags.php?view=username
- Tag pages much faster, New features, 2011/03/03.