Using our LibraryThing Catalog

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve boarded our bookmobile and browsed our collection of literature, music, and film in person.  But did you know that you can also browse our shelves virtually?  Our entire catalog (including what you see on the truck, what’s in storage, and what’s checked out) is housed on LibraryThing, and each item is tagged with its appropriate format, subject, collection, availability, and provenance.

What follows is a brief tutorial on how to access and utilize our catalog through LibraryThing.

From the LibraryThing homepage, type theBPTL in the search field at the top right.


Select the Members field from the left sidebar, and choose The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library from the Member search results.


Click on the Collection called Your library.


This will take you to a list version of our catalog.  It should be noted that you can alternately get this far by typing  into your browser, or by clicking just about anywhere on our Catalog page.  If you’re interested in exploring specific titles, authors, and/or tags, the list view of our catalog is probably the way to go.  But if you’re looking to have a more aesthetic browsing experience, you may want to shift over from List view to Covers view.  Start by pressing the button that says Covers near the top of the page.


In this example, the items have been automatically sorted by title, without regard to format, author, subject, etc.  This, of course, is not how you will find the items sorted on the shelves of our bookmobile.  One reason we use tags on LibraryThing is to try to emulate the order in which you will find things on the truck.  Follow these next couple of steps and you’ll see about as close an approximation of a virtual representation of our shelves as it gets.

First, click the Edit sort order button near the top of the screen.  This is represented by two vertical arrows, one pointing down, and one pointing up.


In the Sort by field, select tags and Up.  In the Subsort by field, choose author and Up.  Up sorts in alphabetical order, and the sort and subsort fields create a sorting hierarchy, first sorting by tags, and then sorting by author within the tags.  Then hit the Sort button and let LibraryThing work its magic.


This is what the catalog should look like after performing this sort.

You may additionally want to explore a particular format (book, cd, dvd), collection (fiction, nonfiction, kids), and/or subject (poetry & plays, world literature, cultural studies).   This is where tags really start to come in handy.  To explore our tags, click on the Tags button near the top of the screen.


The default sorting order for tags is again alphabetical.  In the example below, the tags are ordered by their count, listing the most commonly used tags first, and across.

So say you were interested in seeing what essays and short stories we have in our collection.  Select the essays & short stories tag.


Here you will find a list of all of the books of essays and short stories we have in our collection.  If you followed the instructions on sorting order earlier, they should be organized by tags and subsorted by author.  At this point, you may want to switch back over to List view in order to view more information about each title.


Here (in this case, on the second page of the results) you can see that some of these items have tags supplemental to the uniform book and essays & short stories tags.  One tag you will commonly see is out, which is attached to all items that (you guessed it) are currently checked out.  If an item is checked out, it should be followed by another cryptic-seeming tag that starts with a z and is followed by three numbers.  This tag indicates (again, cryptically) to whom an item is checked out.  When an item is returned, the out tag disappears, but the z-tag remains.  This is an attempt to track any particular member’s checkout history, as well as an item’s provenance (here meaning to whom any particular item has ever been checked out).


All of these z-tags can be found through the Tags page as well.  If you’re interested in looking at your checkout history, including what you currently have out, click on the z-tag that is in accordance with your library card number (i.e. z104 is the tag for member no. 104).


If there is an out tag immediately preceding your z-tag, then it is something you currently have checked out.  If there is no out tag OR if another z-tag precedes your z-tag, then you have returned the item and it is just part of your checkout history.

If you are interested in learning more about a particular title, just click on the title in question.


This will take you into the title’s record and provide more information on the item as contributed by the greater LibraryThing community.


If you’d like to request any of the titles you see in our catalog, please feel free to send us an email at  If an item is tagged as out, it will be a bit more of a process, but if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be any issue at all.

Thanks for your time.  Hope you find this to be of use.


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