Sunday, 28 September 2014

Genealogy Notes 23-30 Sep 2014 - LibraryThing & Guest Blogging

Extreme satisfaction this week as I am finally tackling something that has been on my To Do list for years if not decades. But more on that later. First up I want to start with some blogging news. Week 23 Electoral Rolls was this week's challenge in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014. I am a big fan of electoral rolls for solving where people move to.

I also did a guest blog for the Genealogical Society of Queensland and took the opportunity to convince a few more people to start blogging their family stories. Read my post here. It really is a fantastic way to find lost lost relatives and get to know other Geneabloggers.

From time to time I am asked to do a book review and past reviews can be seen on the Resources page of my website (towards the end of the page). My next book review is a bit out of the ordinary as I have been asked to review one of Nathan Goodwin's genealogical crime mysteries which sounds absolutely fascinating. Hiding the Past is Nathan's first book in this series and a review on Amazon said A good reminder that you just never know what you will find once you embark on an ancestral hunt! I know that feeling so looking forward to a good read.

Which brings me to what I have been doing most of the week.

In the last 40 years since I left home, I have carted my genealogy, history and other cannot part with books, including novels and cookery books from home to home, city to city, state to state. Packing up and moving nine times you tend to jettison a lot of stuff along the way, so I hate to think what my house would have been like if I had not had a wanderlust.

So now that we are in the home we are never moving from, I am fulfilling my lifelong ambition to have all my books catalogued and easily findable no matter what bookcase they are in throughout the house. One of the attractions of this house was that two walls of the study have built in book cases, in fact I could not go past this house once I had seen the study which also overlooks the swimming pool area and our palm and fruit orchard. Although the birds are a bit of a distraction!

Over the years people have given me all kinds of suggestions on how to do this but I have gone with LibraryThing which is free and many geneafriends also use. I think there is something nice about being able to see (virtually) what other people have on their bookshelves and already I have two LibraryThing friends.

Setting up the account is easy and to add your books you simply select a group of libraries that you think will have the books and then you enter the ISBN and hopefully one of your libraries has the book and you get all the library cataloguing details which saves a lot of keying in of author names, titles etc. You can add your own tags and there is a private comments field where I enter the Bookcase number and shelf number.

I gave all the bookcases and shelves numbers which allows me to know which shelf a particular book is located on. Many of my research guides and other finding aids are small pamphlett size and hard to spot so this means I will be able to grab something quickly once I look it up on LibraryThing.

So all very positive and exciting and somewhat addictive. I have spent hours doing this and rearranging my books. But like everything, there are two sides to cataloguing your library collection.

I am using the National Library of Australia (NLA) as my main library choice with support from various State Libraries for my Australian books and similar libraries overseas for my New Zealand, UK and USA books. With legal deposit I expected to find most of my books in the NLA or the relevant State Library but I am surprised at how many of my books are not where I expect a copy to be held. With one of my books, in desperation I tried the University of Queensland and they had a copy so universities are now my fall back position.

You can enter books in manually but I prefer to have all the cataloguing details as well and it is quicker if you can find it already in a library somewhere.

But that is not what is taking me the longest time. I am rediscovering each and every one of my genealogy reference books and some of them are quite ancient and precomputer and internet times. It is fascinating to read them and see how we did genealogy in those far off days. At one point I was going to say they were all superseded and simply toss them, but there is some good advice and the records are the same, just the way we look for things has changed. So the weeding and decluttering  is not quite going to plan.

It will probably take me months to do all of my books so I will give updates from time to time on progress. LibraryThing is my new best friend and we won't be parted anytime soon!

For those in Brisbane don't forget the Queensland Family History Society seminar on Saturday with Pauleen Cass (Family History Across the Seas) and myself talking about asylums, hospitals and prisons. Should be a great seminar and if you are in the Gold Coast area, I am also attending the Angling for Ancestors seminar although I am not talking. Graham Jaunay and Jan Gow are the two speakers for that day long genealogy fest so I can just sit back and soak up all their genealogy knowledge! Blog posts to come on both seminars.

Until next week, happy genealogy searching or in my case, LibraryThing.


  1. Sounds like fun! As a Library Technician this type of thing appeals to me greatly :)
    I use Goodreads to do the same thing. I can record what I've read, as well as what I'm currently reading, or wanting to read, and write reviews. I've created a few sub-categories for novels about convicts, as well as one for historical time-slip novels. It links in with my Amazon purchases as well. I'm sure LibraryThing has more functionality in the cataloging department, though.

  2. Thanks Janelle Goodreads is also on my to do list. So many great applications we can use to keep track of what we do

  3. I've been using LibraryThing for quite a while now and agree it doesn't always pick up the full details readily. previously I was using a paid program called Collectorz which was much better in that regard and also let me add maps, CDs and DVDs which is handy. My biggest problem is remembering to keep adding or subtracting books.