LibraryThing Database

Frequently Asked Questions

What is LibraryThing?

LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site that enables you to very easily catalog your library and the books you own, while connecting with fellow book lovers around the world. Since 2008, the Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries project has partnered with LibraryThing, as part of the Libraries of Early America project and the wider Legacy Libraries project, to catalog all the books Thomas Jefferson owned or desired to own throughout his lifetime. In doing so, we connect his library collection with other bibliophiles across time! To read what our LibraryThing friends have to say about themselves, visit their About page.

Do I need to be a member of LibraryThing?

You do NOT need an account on LibraryThing to access and explore Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries on LibraryThing. The database is fully accessible to the public on LibraryThing with or without a membership to the site. One advantage to having a LibraryThing account is that it allows you to compare your own library collection with that of Thomas Jefferson and other individuals like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. Joining LibraryThing is incredibly easy - simply go to the LibraryThing website and click the “Join Now” button towards the top on the right-hand side of the screen.

How do I find Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries on LibraryThing?

There are several ways to access Thomas Jefferson’s profile (or home) page and library catalog on LibraryThing. The most convenient way is to enter the search, “Thomas Jefferson,” in the Search site box at top right-hand corner of the LibraryThing homepage. You will find Jefferson page’s profile (or home) page under Members on the navigation bar on the left-hand side of the search results page.

At the profile page, you can explore Jefferson’s library catalog by clicking on the Your Library link under Collections, and then entering your search term in the Search this library search box on the top right-hand corner of the browse list page.

Why is Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries on LibraryThing?

By contributing our bibliographic and research data for Thomas Jefferson’s library collections to LibraryThing, users like you can not only access this data easily via LibraryThing’s search interface, you can compare Jefferson’s collections with those of other founding fathers and individuals across time.

What is a viewing style on LibraryThing?

Always view Thomas Jefferson’s books in the recommended viewing style when browsing Jefferson’s books. This will ensure that you see all the pertinent information relating to these books. To change to Jefferson’s recommended viewing style, click on the link (use it) found at the end of the line, ThomasJefferson has a suggested style for viewing this library (use it). The line will change to, Using ThomasJefferson’s viewing style (stop using it).

To view the details for a particular book record, click on the detail page icon for that title, which is the second icon on the right-hand side of the entry next to the plus sign.

What are collections?

Thomas Jefferson owned many books during his lifetime. In LibraryThing, collections for Thomas Jefferson represent the different libraries he owned throughout his lifetime, as well as discrete subgroupings of interest that we have identified. Read a brief description of these collections on Jefferson’s profile page, or explore the Jefferson & Reading section on the Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries project website for more information about these collections.

What are tags and where do they come from?

Tags offer a flexible and quick way to identify themes and subjects found within each book. The tags for each of Jefferson’s book records in LibraryThing represent the classification system Jefferson used to organize his books. He based his system on the faculties of the mind set forth by Francis Bacon and further developed in the eighteenth century by Jean Lerond D’Alembert in his “Preliminary Discourse,” found in the French Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and D’Alembert. We have reflected Jefferson’s hierarchical organization in his classification system (from narrower terms to broader terms) in the tags, including the changes he made as his classification system evolved over time. For more information on how to navigate the various tag features in LibraryThing, see LibraryThing Concepts Explained.

Where do reviews come from?

A great feature that Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries has on LibraryThing is the review section. Here you can read what Jefferson thought about the books he was reading. Wherever available, we are including reviews from Jefferson’s correspondence for individual book titles. Jefferson had a lot to say about his books, so we are still adding more reviews!

Reviews are found at the beginning of individual book records in the book details page. If you are looking at several books at once via the Reviews page, do note that only the left-hand column contains reviews by Jefferson.

What is “Sowerby” and what do the numbers following it refer to?

E. Millicent Sowerby’s Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson is the five-volume print catalog of the books Jefferson sold to Congress in 1815, published between 1952-1959. These books that Jefferson sold in 1815 have annotated entries in the Sowerby Catalogue, and these entries are numbered. The Sowerby number noted in the Comments field of many of the LibraryThing book records refer to these entries. An online version of Sowerby’s Catalogue is keyword searchable via the search page on the Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries project website. We are still in the process of embedding direct links to individual Sowerby Catalogue entries in our LibraryThing book records. Some of these LibraryThing records already have direct links to Sowerby, while many still do not. The best way to find a specific book in the Sowerby Catalogue is by the book entry number or by browsing the Catalogue here.


Learn more from LibraryThing

A Short Introduction to LibraryThing

Tour LibraryThing

LibraryThing Concepts Explained