TinyCat questions

Pam Guin Asks:

If someone is using TinyCat/Library Thing for their very small library I would love to find out how they like it and some instructions on how some of it works.  I found YouTube videos but they are a few years old.

2 Replies:

Jean Lefergey: We use that system in our small 1300 volume library.  Sort of. The system was installed prior to my term as librarian and I did not receive  any written instructons or training.  I have had to rely on pure experimentation to figure it out.  I find the cataloging system to be fairly simple and useful, although I admittedly have nothing to compare it with.  We do not use the system for checking out books, since ours is a rather easy going, self serve library. Our membership did not seem all that interested in learning the multi-step checkout procedure, especially since our computer set up was an older, donated and often unreliable system. We returned to checking out books on a clipboard with name and date, and we do not enforce any time limits on books.   One thing I do especially like about TinyCat/LibraryThing is that I can access the catalog from home, so I can enter new holdings and delete discards at any time and also search out specific books when I receive an email request. I am sure the system has many other useful features, but  we are not in a position to use them and they seem a bit superfluous to our simple way of doing things. 

Pam Guin's reply to Jean: Thanks for the info!  Is there a way to let the patrons access the catalog online without them logging in like I do to make changes?  I want them to be able to see what we have and maybe reserve a book, but I don't want them to have access to edit records and such.



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  • I have been getting acquainted with Tiny Cat/Library Thing.  I am still learning how it works.  I like the idea of the cat mouse scanner and the book bar codes you can purchase from their site and put them on books for a quicker check in and out.  Again I am a newby and just about to open the Church for the first time this sunday.

    I love the app on my phone to quickly add inventory, but need to go back in and add the catagories to it.  For now I will be using paper check out, and eventually will switch.  I h ave a laptop at the church I am working on getting set up for the ;ibrary to check in and out.Send me your email and as I learn how to do this, I can send your my notes.  

  • We use it.  There is a wiki within the librarycat system  - it requires a lot of diligence to figure out, but I am really thinking it is going to work well. I also will tell you that it took me a very, very long time to catalog our nearly 3,000 resources. I like the tiny cat check out system, as the patron (once assigned a patron card) can access the check out system on their phone. That means the library doesn't need to be staffed to be open, and that is working great. We have a basket for returns, which we can process once a week or so. 

    I think most of the confusion lies in how the system works. It is not simple, but it is very very useful.  There are really TWO systems. LibraryTHING is where you add and maintain your resources. You edit, add, label, tag, etc.  That is where the complex wiki is that explains everything as well. LibraryTHING has ONLY an admin side. The patrons cannot see or access that. 
    LibraryCAT is the actual checkout/patron system & has a patron-facing side and an admin-facing side.  The patron can sign in to the patron-facing side to search, check out (if you allow that), etc.  The ADMIN side of LibraryCAT is for staff to sign in, add or maintain patrons, check out/in books, etc. 

    Does that h elp?


    • Very helpful.  Thanks!


  • Let me just add that I can walk you through setting up your Listings page on LT but it would probably be a lot easier to do it over the phone than to try to explain it here!

  • We use LibraryThing and its patron link, TinyCat.  Our library consists of around 11,000 books.  The librarians use the main LibraryThing site for all the work we do, like entering books into the catalog, checking out and back in again the books which are borrowed (using the "Lending" feature), looking up books to see if we have them, or what the call number is, or if they are out on loan.  Librarything is free.


    You have to pay an annual fee for TinyCat but it's not all that expensive, especially not for very small libraries.  We put our TinyCat link on our church website's library page, and also on our library facebook page.  Occasionally we add it to our monthly newsletter.  In the library, we have a Chromebook on a lectern, which is available for patrons to use (there is a normal sized computer on the librarian desk which is used by them).  On Sundays, when the library is used by patrons, we make sure the Chromebook is set to the TinyCat page, so people can look up what they want.


    We do not use any of this for patrons to check out books.  We use cards (from Demco) for that.  They write the date and their name, and then a librarian enters that information into the catalog.  Same when books are returned (we keep the cards in a box on the librarians' desk).

    I think TinyCat is pretty easy to use, though of course it does help to teach it to individuals or groups (for example, I did a session once for our adult Sunday School teachers, to show them how it works and what information can be found on each listing).  Some of our patrons love it and use it to reserve a book; when they do that, I get an email telling me they want it.  So then I know when it comes back, it goes to that person.


    I would stress though, that there is a difference between LibraryThing and TinyCat.  TinyCat is sort of a subset of LibraryThing, specifically designed for patrons.  It has a nice, clean look to it.  the LibraryThing catalog interface is much more utilitarian.


    I don't know if this answered your question but feel free to ask more if I didn't give you what you need!

    • Your description is how we plan to use LT and TC.  Thanks for your information!


  • I truly don't know the answer to that.  I know that some people who are familar with the system have sometimes accessed the catalog to look for a specific title or author, but I do not know whether that also allows them access to other functions.  Sorry I can't be of more help on that.  



    • Thank you all for your helpful replies!  I am continuing to explore and find answers to what I need.  I did find out that the support people do reply to emails asking questions.  I sent and email and received a very nice reply from one of the staff at TinyCat.  It was very helpful.  I am looking forward to being comfortable using this system.  Our library is brand new and will hopefully be opening soon.  It would be nice for us to know what we are doing before we open our doors!  :-)


      • YES, one of the things I appreciate most about LibraryThing is their excellent customer support.  They are speedy about replying to emails and are just about always able to help.  And very kind, when it turns out my issue was my own stupidity!!!

        • Great to hear!

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