There’s big news for tiny libraries. LibraryThing, the social book cataloging site, announced the launch of a new OPAC called TinyCat. Designed for small collections of less than 10,000 items, TinyCat is perfect for cataloging and circulating the collections of religious institutions, schools, community centers, and academic departments. Built on the user friendly LibraryThing backend, TinyCat is a low cost, low skill way to offer library-like services.
The TinyCat logo
Although TinyCat will not go live for several months, LibraryThing developers have already begun adding features to support the TinyCat launch. The tasks of a professional library ILS—such as circulation, importing and exporting MARC records, and barcode support–join LibraryThing’s existing cataloging, review, and social sharing features. Users can now also add other formats such as DVDs to their collections. These advanced features are available to all LibraryThing users, even if they will not be implementing the TinyCat interface. So what makes TinyCat different from LibraryThing? Founder Tim Spalding explains, “TinyCat looks like a library catalog. LibraryThing looks like an inventory system and a social network. It’s a bewildering experience for a ’patron,’ such as a parishioner who wants to search their church library.” Based on released screenshots, TinyCat delivers a seamless search and discovery experience that will be familiar to public library users.
TinyCat’s clean, mobile friendly interface.
Organizations interested in using TinyCat should begin cataloging their collection in LibraryThing. Accounts are free up to 200 books, $10 for a yearly membership, or $25 for a lifetime membership. Libraries max out at 5,000 volumes, but can expand to 10,000 items with permission. While there is no official launch date, TinyCat is expected to launch in the fall. Contract LibraryThing for more information or to be included in TinyCat beta tests.
TinyCat developed out of demand by small libraries already using LibraryThing. However, it is not the company’s first foray into providing services for libraries. A suite of catalog enhancements for professional ILS systems called LibraryThing for Libraries has been available for almost ten years. It delivers added features such as reviews, recommendations, and tagging to big name ILS systems. TinyCat is the company’s first product designed specifically for small libraries.