Sunday, October 29, 2006

1,000 librarians / LibraryThing rumors

The Librarians who LibraryThing group now has 1,000 members. I ask you, can 1,000 librarians be wrong?

Not to bring up an example, but an alert LibraryThinger wrote us about some rumors circulating about LibraryThing, and given out at one of the many recent library conferences. Here are the rumors, and the truth behind them:
  1. LibraryThing was started by Simmons graduate students. False. LibraryThing was started by me, Tim Spalding, and I don't have an MLS. Some months later, Abby, who has an MLS from Simmons, joined as LibraryThing's first employee.*
  2. LibraryThing is staffed purely by librarians. False. Of three employees (me, Abby and Chris), Abby is the only librarian.
  3. LibraryThing gets its MARC records from OCLC. False. LibraryThing has expressed interest in working with OCLC, but we do not currently do so. LibraryThing gets its records directly from libraries' who make their records available through Z39.50 connections. We connect to about 60 libraries and library consortia. The most commonly used of these is the Library of Congress.
  4. Abby and Tim know all the words to Hips Don't Lie. No comment.
*The second employee was supposed to be a Simmons grad, but it fell through. We've found it very hard to hire library tech people. The best ones may not be paid what they're worth, but convincing someone to leave a secure, 40-hour, sometimes unionized job at a library for a small startup that won't pay you more, but where you are expected to work 80 hours per week, with no promise your job will be around in a year... well, it's hard.


Anonymous K.G. Schneider said...

I understand the hiring issues. I did the contract thing for the last five years, and in retrospect, the best pitch you can make is "do this kind of job while you're young enough to enjoy it."

So, is LT planning a widget similar to MediaManager ( ) ?

10/31/2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Interesting idea. Do you get royalties if we do?

Well, startups are a thing of their own. They're basically a decision you make to have your life and your work merge. If that sounds scary to you, you're not the kind of person who should do it. It sounded great to me, but then I was in graduate school before and that's basically what graduate school is. I mean, if you're at a party with other Classics graduate students, it's normal to talk about Classics. By contrast, lots of "employees" don't want to talk about their jobs outside of "work." I would never want one of those jobs! It's an admission that half your life is worthless.

I would think a startup would appeal to someone like you, however. You do not—I suspect–blog because it's your job. You blog because you find the topic interesting. That kind of loving what you do is what startups are all about.

There's a good piece by Paul Graham called "What business can learn from blogging and open source," all about that connection.

10/31/2006 11:40 AM  

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