Obscurity ...

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Obscurity ...

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Dez 31, 2006, 11:51am

I was worried that my current 12/189 (way up from my old 3/36 before L.T. started to get popular!) would exclude me from this group, but I see that I'm still "pretty obscure" even given the company!

Dez 31, 2006, 10:13pm

Those figures are fascinating, no? The median figure is a better measure of your eclectic taste. All one needs is to have Nineteen Eighty-Four or Moby Dick in the collection, and the average number of shared readers shoots up.

There's a great pride in having eclectic tastes, but in my case, the obscurity is a function of having lived in Australia and Japan, and buying locally published titles.

Dez 31, 2006, 10:13pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Jan 1, 2007, 5:47pm

In general, "obscure" has been used to describe me in a verity of ways; and I suppose that my library is fairly obscure at 9/225. Of course, I own both Nineteen Eighty-Four and Moby Dick. ;-)

Jan 1, 2007, 7:06pm

I'm not sure what this score means. I have 91 books cataloged and have a score of 107/484. I'm guessing that I have a pretty obscure list as I'm using this site to locate information on books without ISBNs. I really enjoy all the discussion on books, so finding this site has been wonderful.

I actually own over 2000 books and started cataloging my books in another program. But it doesn't work well without an ISBN. I believe it's because it's not linked to as many sources as Library Thing.

Do you think there is some meaning to having an obscure reading list? What does that say about someone?

Jan 1, 2007, 10:09pm

3/66. Like everybody else, I see the mean go up every day, but the median has been pretty stable since I got the bulk of our library in.

As the result of his Language Log post, I discovered that there actually is at least one user whose weighted list I show up on (per the group description), though down in the middle somewhere. I suspect that's just an accident of the fraction of his library he has entered so far: some foreign language grammars and pre-Graham LISP references. It should vanish back off once he gets a chance to enter more. What does waiting for that say about someone?

Jan 4, 2007, 5:38pm

I own both "Moby Dick" and "1984," so does that make me obscure? If so, I'll join this group! I've always liked to think that I like music, books, movies, etc. that are off the beaten track - or that are an acquired taste, as they say. As an example, one of my desert island cds is the soundtrack from "Twin Peaks." Does anyone else out there think that qualifies as obscure?

Jan 5, 2007, 2:55am

It's actually fairly easy to have a high obscurity rating simply by being a specialist in some area. Bonus points for being a specialist in an unpopular area! My rating is 115/861, which is easily attributed to the fact that I am a math student. I'm sure there are professionals with far higher obscurity ratings whose unusual collections are simply the natural result of their training.

9battlinjack Primeira Mensagem
Jan 5, 2007, 3:55am

I don't know...I'm at 21/114, where does that put me? Does anyone know what the range of obscurity is? Is there definite definition of 'Too

Jan 5, 2007, 4:59am

9/89 here. Of course our most commonly-held book is 1984. We scrolled down to the 100th most common in our catalog and found Tender is the Night at 1130. Would that indicate anything? What's your 100th?

Jan 5, 2007, 5:04am

#9> "Does anyone know what the range of obscurity is?"

One of the things that I've been nagging Tim & co. for is some sort of "obscurity chart" that would let folks know where they stood in relation to the rest of the L.T. community.

As I understand it, the various stats things are rather broken at the moment (for example, the page with the data about reviews has not updated since September), and the whole issue of the "Zeitgeist" is under consideration, but given a lower priority than fixing the search function and streamlining the language issues.

Jan 6, 2007, 3:48am

How about 10% down from the top and 10% up from the bottom? We get 167 and 1 for those numbers.

Jan 6, 2007, 11:20am

I have to admit that as I gradually catalogue my books, I hesitate over the common ones. In fact, just yesterday I decided to add a mystery title someone had given me to the "give to the library" pile rather than catalogue it. My own score, 2/38, will surely change when I start on my art and music books.

Fogies, my most popular is Life of Pi (Moby Dick was a library book) and #100 is Iran awakening. But this is just the result of my slow progress. 10% is probably a better measure - my 10% down book (at least, today) is Much Depends on Dinner.

Jan 6, 2007, 12:19pm

Top: 90 (things like Prometheus Bound and Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves — a lot of classicists here, but progressive classicists).
Bottom: 1 also (nearly 1/3 is unshared — I probably need to spend more time combining).

Jan 6, 2007, 2:51pm

"How about 10% down from the top and 10% up from the bottom? We get 167 and 1 for those numbers."

Is that for median or mean?

Jan 6, 2007, 3:05pm

>15 Yiggy: Is that for median or mean?

Neither, they're raw data. Of 6800 books we have cataloged, The age of capital, 1848-1875 owned by 168 others (note rise since previous post) is the one 10% down from top of our catalog (6800-680) and Prison poems is 10% up from the last entry.

Jan 29, 2007, 10:46pm

My obscurity rating is 4/96. I have 1,467 book entered in, not half yet of my (and my wife's) collection. 20% of our books are unshared. 10% down from the top, shared with 121 others, is: Pardonable lies : a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. I do't know why we own this book. My special collections are old travel books (Baedeker & Michelin), and ones on public transport. These are over half the unshared. I also collect almanacs, and the old ones are both unshared, and difficult to catalog, as they don't have ISBN numbers and librarything doeasn't support ISSN numbers.
-- Bob Campbell

Fev 4, 2007, 2:23pm

I wonder if a "percentage unshared" would be a more reliable gauge of obscurity. At the moment I have a 13/216 "obscurity rating" (which will no doubt jump way up when I finish reading Godel, Escher, Bach with its 2,094 members), yet nearly 17% of my library is not shared with anybody (and another 5% or so is only shared with one other user).

It really bugs me when I find I'm reading a "popular" book, knowing that it's going to trash my obscurity rating ... I've even made reading decisions based on not wanting to add in books that were "top 100" ... if the obscurity rating were based on percentage of exclusivity, it would be resistant to having any particular book mess up the numbers!

Fev 4, 2007, 4:56pm

I wonder if a "percentage unshared" would be a more reliable gauge of obscurity.

Nope. "Percent unshared" doesn't work, because that statistic privileges works in less-common languages.

(E.g., If someone has collection here that consists only of works in Lithuanian (say), and there are no other LT members with those books...).

"Percentage unshared" is an interesting problem - my statistic has been dropping steadily as

a) I clean up my own data
b) elves* come in and clean up the shared author/works data
c) new members who hold previously-unique works join up.

I was up in the 15-20% "unshared" ballpark,
but that's been steadily dropping until I'm now down to 7% unshared. (My "obscurity rating" is now 17/101, up from around 8/70 six months ago.)

*Well, I've seen my own data get tidied up overnight, and without my participation. "Elves" is as good a description of this effect as any.

20EACNormal Primeira Mensagem
Fev 4, 2007, 9:36pm

I have a 2/10....This is very obscure, no?

Editado: Fev 4, 2007, 11:46pm

Dear EACNormal,
That is obscure, mine is now 5/112 with 1725 books cataloged. We actually share one book, Flowers; a guide to familiar American wildflowers by Herbert Spencer Zim. In the last three days, I' have been catloging some of my wife's plant books, which all seem to have few sharers. So, maybe these types of books are uncommon for the typical librarything.com person. My number went up because I was also cataloging my wife's classsics, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Maugham, etc.
-- Bob Campbell

Fev 10, 2007, 3:25pm

Hey, sorry to bother y'all, but could someone explain to me what the mean/median numbers mean exactly? My rating is 533/1,683, which I think must be very un-obscure, after reading what you've all been saying; but I don't know what it means beyond that.

Fev 10, 2007, 4:27pm

Well, the first number is the median, and the second number is the mean. My rating right now with 1,800 books is 5/114. The median means that half my books are shared with 5 or fewer people, and the other half with five or more. The mean is the average of all the sharings you have. It goes something like this: if you have 4 books in your library and they are shared with 1, 2, 2, and 11 people. then your median is 2, and your mean is 4 (which is 1+2+2+9=16, thence 16 divided by 4 is 4). You get a high mean because you have lots of book shared by lots of people. You have a high median because you have few really rare books. You have a low mean if you have few books shared by many other people, particularly best-sellers. You have a low median with lots of unshared books, but your best-sellers won't affect the number too much.
Many people don't put their whole library in librarything.com, so they may be skewing their numbers by what they leave out. (i.e. those 10 32-page that my grandmother gave me aren't worth anything, so I won't put them in. But these are obscure items in 2006 even if they were common in 1930).
Bob Campbell

Fev 10, 2007, 4:39pm

Thanks ever so! I get it now.

25Rivendell Primeira Mensagem
Fev 10, 2007, 4:45pm

Moby Dick! Pschaw! You try having 30 copies of the Hobbit, and see what that does to obscurity!

We have an obscurity of 7/362 (we blame Harry Potter, too, for the latter figure) on a library of 3,492 ... But that is all the ISBN's books ... the non-ISBNs are going to push the obscurity still further, methinks...

You are so right about how fascinating obscurity is! While I can see other things are (rightfully) prioritised above obscurity getting into zeitgeist or some other comparative function, I still can't wait!


Pat from Rivendell

Fev 11, 2007, 4:31pm

Well, I've helped our obscurity by having not put in any Harry Potter book we own, nor anything by Dan Brown.
- Bob

Editado: Fev 11, 2007, 7:13pm

26> "I've helped our obscurity by having not put in any ..."

See, this is the sort of thing which makes me ache for an alternate system for measuring obscurity. In the curent calculations, you can be seriously impacted by adding one super-popular book, and I'm sure that many of us who value "obscurity" as an attribute have self-edited to avoid this happening ... I know that I've steered away from particular books which I had a thought to read because I knew it would have a deleterious effect on my obscurity rating!

I've previously suggested a system for measuring obscurity where 1/# was the core measurement ... with those added (1/#a + 1/#b + 1/#c, etc.) and divided by the total number to render a fraction which was close to 1 for an extremely obscure library, and infinitesimally small for an extremely common library. This was thrashed out several months ago in the old Google Group, but nothing ever came of it.

Fev 12, 2007, 10:51am

Oh, and another interesting statistic. Apparently, I stopped thinking in 1980, on average.

Fev 15, 2007, 7:43pm

A way to get a more realistic value for the mean is to use a geometric mean or a harmonic mean. These are always smaller than the arithmetic mean that librarything.com uses, and so would come closer to noting obscurity. I think the hramonic mean ranges smaller than the geometric mean. But both take quite a bit of computation.
-- Bob

Fev 19, 2007, 3:45am


I would be interested to know what the median obscurity score of all LibraryThing users is.

I just looked up the median obscurity scores of the first 40 people under "recent users", and this is what I got:









So it looks like the median median book obscurity is somewhere around 200, and that if you want to be considered in the top 10% of obscure people you should perhaps have a median book obscurity of no higher than 15.

My obscurity is 110/590, so I won't be joining this group :)

Fev 19, 2007, 5:32am

"...if you want to be considered in the top 10% of obscure people you should perhaps have a median book obscurity of no higher than 15."

How depressing.

My obscurity keeps decaying ... I'm now at 15/240 ... which by this figuring would leave me teetering on the edge of "insufficient obscurity"! This has happened very quickly (on 12/31/06 I was at 12/189), and it's not like I spent all of January reading Harry Potter or anything.

Fev 19, 2007, 7:00am

19/183: I got a bit more obscure when I added some books inherited from my dad. Many he bought just after the war and they're not obscure as far as content goes but just no longer available new. And then I started (LT is too addictive) adding books which I had no intention of cataloguing when I first started like some cookery books (mostly unused now) and computer books (ditto).

Mar 19, 2007, 10:25pm

1/42, here. Of course, I cheated by including some of the books I've written, knowing damn well they have few readers. . .

Mar 23, 2007, 4:26pm

Dear Possman,
I find that books older than 50 years (from original publication) take longer to catalog, if thye are still in print. I've gotten over 100 hits on Amazon.com on some titles. Sometimes, I just put my old books in manually to save time wading through the librarything responses.
Bob Campbell

Mar 24, 2007, 10:39am

Bob, (#34) Yes you're right. I tend to manually enter anything that doesn't have an ISBN as it's easier than getting something which turns out to be 'similar' but needs the details editing. Especially if dozens of editions (some as part of sets) were churned out. Not that ISBN always guarantees an identical match.

David Greenhalgh

Abr 3, 2007, 6:47pm

At last, a home! I was getting really worried; found the Library Thing less than a week ago and began entering my library, hoping to come up with some like minds. Having entered nearly all the books i have on my shelf (I often give away - or loan- it amounts to the same thing, any books I think someone else might like, or SHOULD read). I discovered that a lot of my books had 'no other' readers. I haven't got around to manually entering the ones 'not found'. Does anyone know why I can't, or how I can, search The British Library website?

Abr 3, 2007, 6:52pm

Ok. It lost my last post, so here goes again. I am wondering why there is no option to search the British Library archives? I am pleased to have found others with 'none' in the other readers with this book. I was begining to feel like adding some 'Popular Fiction' to boost my rating!! Having found the site only this weekend I haven't had a chance to enter my 'not founds' manually.

Abr 3, 2007, 6:54pm

Ok. so now they've found it. Is it because I am English??

Abr 4, 2007, 1:56pm

Dear Tsilah,
You may have caught LT when they were doing maintenance.
I agree about the lack of the added great libraries not being represented. Of the three great U.S. libraries, only the Library of Congress is represented, but that is a godsend when you have a an LC card number, but no ISBN (perhaps 8% of my library). The other two missing libraries in the U.S. are Harvard University and New York Public. However, Yale is there, so I guess I can be 2/3 satisfied on that.
It would be nice to have the British Library, also Oxford and Cambridge. Also, one or two great French libraries would be nice (Biblioteque nationale and Sorbonne - I don't really know French libraries). I do use the University of Montreal when I run dry on English sources.
- Bob Campbell

Jul 5, 2007, 11:32am

Apparently I'm not obscure only 47/392. It would still be interesting to see where I rank among other members. I had to change my major because of a statistics course. ;-)

Editado: Jul 5, 2007, 11:52am

My obscurity keeps fading into obscurity ... currently showing up as 24/353 (as opposed to 15/240 on 2/19/07, 12/189 on 12/31/06, and 3/36 "way back when" ... my obscurity has halved in the first six months of 2007? ... I feel so "mundane"!).

I, too, wish that Tim would add a "distribution graph" (like those for dates) on the Fun Statistics page that would show how one's obscurity numbers fall versus the LT population as a whole.

Jul 5, 2007, 6:59pm

Well, my obscurity has gone to 9/204. I was 4/96 at my first posting on 1/29/07. It certainly jumped with putting in Harry Potter books, and I still can't find 2 of them as I write. But our numbers are going to increase as more people join LT. This is good, because I want to know othes who share my obscure interests. I did find someone who owns more Michelin guide books that I do, and with almost no overlap. (I have an older collection).

# 41: I think a distribution graph would be great.

Editado: Jul 6, 2007, 6:23am

Well, I went and looked at the median book obscurity scores of the first 40 recent users on the Zeitgeist page again. Here's the results. You're not going to like them . . .

1 - user: jhruby7








Compare the first and last five scores here with the ones I posted in February! Based on this the median median book obscurity score is now around 185-190. If you want to be in the top 10% of obscure people you should have a median obscurity score no higher than 4! This is the opposite of what I had expected.

It might be just due to randomness. On the other hand, I noticed that the users with the lowest median book obscurity scores tended to have small libraries (around 50 books) on specific topics. Perhaps for some reason LibraryThing has recently been attracting a higher proportion of "specialists" to "generalists" than when it first started, although I can't think why that would be.

EDIT: I just noticed that jhruby7 has the "want" tag on every single one of his 65 obscure books. So it's a wish list, not a list of books that he owns.

Jul 6, 2007, 10:51pm

The recent users, are really recent joiners of LT. These people all joined on June 9 or 10. That tells you how long it's been since that section of Zeitgeist has been updated.

Ago 3, 2007, 9:08am

I guess this board is becoming my "memory" for this stuff! While my number has slipped a bit since my last post (from 24/353 to 25/372 in a month) the rate at which it is slipping seems to have moderated towards a plateau. Not that anybody else cares, eh?

I still do wish that Tim & Co. would provide a graph that would show "where on the bell curve" a particular obscurity rating would fall!!


Ago 8, 2007, 7:47pm

My obscurity is 3/112 with 3500 or so books catalogued. If I just deleted the 2 Harry Potters that I own, it would be lower.
I own quite a lot of Dutch books which are certainly obscure and terribly hard to catalogue. I've manually entered nearly 100 already. Why isn't the Dutch Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) on here? THe only Dutch cataloguing source is the Technical Univeristy in Delft which just doesn't have that extensive a library.
I've noticed that Dutch users of LT manually enter almost all their books, which must be why there are so few Dutch users.

Editado: Ago 8, 2007, 11:27pm

I think LT has just done a great amount of expansion in the Dutch area. The cataloging sources now are listed as: Dutch: Bol-Bruna, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (recent), Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (ouder), Rijksmuseum Research Library, Technische Universiteit Delft.

Plus there is an article in the LT blog about what LT is doing in the Netherlands. It makes a reference to a more extensive comment at the "Thingology Post".

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Will the Dutch-ness ever stop?
We just inked a deal with AquaBrowser, an Amsterdam-based library catalog company. See the Thingology Post.
posted by Tim at 8:12 AM 3 comments

Beyond this, there is a Dutch version of LT at:

Dutch site (www.librarything.nl)

Members: 903
Books cataloged: 42,807
Tags: 75,866
Reviews: 798
Groups: 12 (see groups)

Ago 9, 2007, 9:02am

#46 do feel free to go ahead and combine your manually entered books with their english language cousins - if you haven't already. The combiners do what they can but are desperately short of people with non-english languages skills. Of course this will make your library less obscure.

Ago 10, 2007, 8:07pm

47--Wow! Thanks for all the tips on finding Dutch cataloguing sources. I hadn't even found the KB.
48--99% of my Dutch books don't exist in English translation so there's nothing to combine them with. I'm obscure in every way. Probably even the Dutch Librarything site doesn't include most of my books.

Ago 10, 2007, 10:00pm

The one Dutch book I have in my collection, Trams en tramlijnen: de geschiedenis van de Amsterdamse elektrische tramlijnen by P. H. Kiers, I had to put in manually. The somewhat similar title for Rotterdam is findable in one or two sources, but I don't own it.

Ago 10, 2007, 10:33pm

Egads, I hadn't looked at the obscurity statistics in a long time. I've gone up to 3/87. 3! I feel so ... common.

Ago 10, 2007, 11:47pm

Well, I'm up to 10/219, somewhat due to Harry Potter. I was 4/96 on Jan 29, and 5/114 on Feb 4. On July 5, I was 9/204.

Nov 19, 2007, 4:56pm

With just our ISBN books on : "We have an obscurity of 7/362 (we blame Harry Potter, too, for the latter figure) on a library of 3,492 ... But that is all the ISBN's books ... the non-ISBNs are going to push the obscurity still further, methinks..."

Now, with virtually everything on (there is some Japanese material that Mr Rivendell is still working on): 5/573.

Editado: Nov 19, 2007, 9:53pm

(sigh) My obscurity has gone off to visit Ms. Helena Handbasket, I fear.

When this thread started (at the end of last year), it was 12/189 ... the last time I posted about it (a scant 3.5 months ago), it was at 25/372 ... and now it's all the way up to 31/438!

I feel so irretrievably mundane!

I've been assured that this is a function of so many new people joining L.T. and bringing in books that I used to have exclusively (or at least obscurely), but that doesn't help me with feeling like I'm becoming normal or something hideous like that.


Nov 19, 2007, 10:45pm

My obscurity is now up 11/250, up from 3 months ago (10/219). But I am not entering as many books. I still have a Harry Potter missing which should be in one of two book boxes at a storage facility. The new people on LT have sent the latter number (median) up a fair amount. But maybe the combining effort has done some, too. Library is over 4,700.

Dez 30, 2007, 11:40pm

Wow ... what a difference a year makes ... on 12/31/06 I had an obscurity of 12/189 ... now I'm all the way "up" to 33/465. How depressing!


Mar 26, 2008, 11:02am

Four months later, my obscurity is now up 13/297. But, I just managed to add a book, The Science of Dune by Kevin R. Grazier, which is a singleton, despite the general overall popularity of the Dune books.

Mar 27, 2008, 12:08am

(sigh) I keep spiraling into the mundane ... my current figure is 38/534 ... 15 months ago I had numbers less than a third of those ... I guess I am no longer obscure!


Mar 27, 2008, 4:09pm

I think my wife is helping to keep some new books in print.

Maio 16, 2008, 2:30pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Maio 16, 2008, 2:32pm

1,907 Number of books
1,876 Number of distinct works*
1/3 Median/mean book obscurity**

I know my books are not 'obscure' so why the low figures?

Maio 16, 2008, 3:09pm

the numbers are dealing with your books and works shared in LT. if you order your library by # of copies, the middle book is owned by one person, you. if you add up all the copies of the books you own and divide it by the number of books you have your average is 3 copies.

If others own the same book as you but the copies are not listed together, you can combine them into works with other peoples copies which would increase your numbers.

Hope that made some kind of sense.

Maio 16, 2008, 3:30pm


I noticed that a large proportion of your books you added by manual entry. Presumably you couldn't do a match with Amazon or LOC - this in itself would make your library more obscure as most of can make a match for the majority of our books. Your library looks like a specialized collection. If I had just put in my transportation and travel books, my obscurity would dip quite a bit.

Maio 16, 2008, 3:33pm

By the way, my obscurity rating is now 14/309.

Maio 16, 2008, 4:29pm

Over half of your books are not shared with anyone, so I'd have to disagree with you about the obscurity of your books.

Maio 16, 2008, 6:38pm

Well, maybe my plummet into the mundane has leveled off a bit ... in two months it's only gone from 38/534 to 39/545 ... still, it makes me pine for the 3/36 days!


Maio 28, 2008, 11:22pm

Yeah, I know, it's been less than two weeks since my last "update" ... but my obscurity has hit an "interesting" number, so I figured I'd post it (since this thread has been keeping track of this info for me!).

As of today, I'm at 40/555 ... you would think that my not reading any fiction would make for more obscure ratings, but I keep slipping further into the "non-obscure".


Maio 29, 2008, 5:00am

#67 - "but I keep slipping further into the "non-obscure"."

Or maybe LT is adding more and more people so that the threshold for "obscure" is rising. You still have an obscure library, but a greater absolute number of people will share that with you even if your relative obscurity has unchanged.

It seems unlikely that LT is attracting a greater proportion of people with obscure books than it used to.

My figures long ago slipped into the mundane 398/1,398 although I don't own many of the most common LT works.

Maio 30, 2008, 7:35pm

Since we posted #10 a year and a half ago, we have held steady at 6800 books cataloged. Our numbers have changed since then, and this must be entirely due to a combination of new entries by other members and combining of editions. New figure: 26/259.

(Some day we will add our holdings in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Look for 1/1 when that happens...)

Ago 12, 2008, 4:38pm

I am now up to 16/339 with 5,133 books catalogued. I still have scattered books to catalog. And, I do leave withdrawn books in my catalog (with a "withdrawn" tag).

Fogies, your rating has gone to 28/284 without your adding anything more. Just shows how LT has grown. I do hope you start on your East Asian books.

Ago 12, 2008, 11:51pm

Well, what's it been? Eleven weeks since my last taking a look ... hmm ... went from 40/555 to 45/603.

I feel so "mundane"!


Ago 13, 2008, 12:57am

39/328, but I don't know what will happen if I ever get around to cataloging the rest of the indoor books.

I still don't fully understand the numbers, despite their meaning's being posted repeatedly.


Ago 13, 2008, 1:15pm


If it will help, if you compare my number, 16/339 with that of Fogies 26/259, you can see that his two numbers are closer together. What this means is that I have a greater number of really obscure books (singletons), but also a bigger collection of really popular books (e.g. Harry Potter) and Fogies is somewhat more in a mid-section (but very broad). The second number is very influenced by very popular books, whereas the first number is more influenced by ones uncommon books.

Editado: Ago 13, 2008, 4:11pm

>70 vpfluke: Ah, vp, if you only knew how much manual labor that involves. About ten minutes per volume, typed through a clunky Chinese-qwerty interface, and Mrs. Fogy and I are both working 16-hr days against multiple deadlines.
Someday, when it becomes possible to get reference to the exact edition in, like, the Japanese Diet Library or the U. Peking library or some such, we'll see what can be done. We would love to have them cataloged, but already done. And also there's the problem that only a few hundred of the most recent have ISBN's.

Ago 13, 2008, 5:14pm

73> Thank you, vpfluke. As the layers of explanation build, I hope better and better to understand it. I am a little perplexed at why I don't understand it now; I've never had a problem with medium and mean before although I have to be reminded which is which.


Ago 14, 2008, 10:20am

The word is median, like the concrete and sometimes grass that separates one direction from another on a roadway. In statistics, one assumes the same number of lanes in each direction. And the median would be the lane number if the median could be counted as a lane. -- Maybe, I've made this more confusing.

(As an aside, and only in Boston, there once was a street which had NB & SB traffic on both sides of the median, the east side of the median was for slow traffic so that people could look at flowers in the park, and the west side of the median was for the express traffic).

Ago 20, 2008, 5:02am

I haven't added all my books yet, but just curious, is my library 'obscure' or not?

12/171 Median/mean book obscurity**
** number of users who have books in your collection

So what does this mean is more layman's terms??? And how does it relate to the rest of LT? Does it depend on how many books you have that no one else has, or doesn't that matter?

Ago 20, 2008, 9:32am

The first number means that HALF of your books are shared by fewer than 12 people, and the other half is shared by more than 12 people.

The second number is simply the total of all your shared connections divided by your total book count. To illustrate on a simple example, only 3 books, one shared by 1 person, the second by 10, the third by 100; the average is 37.

As for what your numbers mean in the context of LT, for a proper answer we'd need an analysis of total LT member obscurity data. That we don't have, but you can get some sense of where you fall by checking out obscurity numbers of say... well, thirty randomly selected members with libraries of size comparable to yours. Far from perfect, but we can't do better than an approximation.

And, IMO, right now your numbers are fairly obscure. (But what does it MEAN? :))

Ago 20, 2008, 10:00am

Thanks for the explanation. :) I did wonder if my library was obscure-ish. Perhaps just means my interests are fairly specific. :)

Ago 20, 2008, 1:33pm

I'm going to confess that I'm a terrible person.

As a combiner I've found this group to be a gold mine for orphaned editions that need to be combined. Sometimes there's not much I can do -- when the people crowing about their obscurity just left the author off of a popular work, for instance -- but I take secret pride in watching obscurity ratings creep up when they're the result of uncombined editions rather than actual obscurity.

Ago 20, 2008, 3:21pm

>80 lorax:
Don't fret lorax. You're not alone. :)

Ago 20, 2008, 3:28pm

Ha! Evil combiners...

Ago 20, 2008, 4:47pm

I'm a terrible person too, so I'll spoil your fun by saying that I like it when some of my books are combined behind my back. I think it is more fun having a functioning link to reviews etc than having an artificially high obscurity rating.

Editado: Jan 4, 2009, 1:59pm

(sigh) ... after 5 years of reading no fiction, I broke that taboo last month, so while the total number of books read may be going up, I fear my obscurity will cease to be obscure.

I see the last time I posted a number was back in August when I was 45/603 ... today I added a book (#1,800 in my LT library) and found that my obscurity had further slipped to 53/663 (two years ago it was 12/189 ... of course, at that point LT was barely 15 months old, so had a lot less members/books).

I do wish Tim & Co. would do some charting for this ... it would be interesting to have graphs to put this stuff in context.


Jan 4, 2009, 7:07pm

I'm now up to 18/371 (I was 16/339 in August). Shows how LT has grown. We don't have enough railfans to really social network on LT as yet.

Jan 4, 2009, 9:09pm

Mine's now 14/177 (previously 12/171) though I'm unsure what that means, more or less obscure?

Jan 4, 2009, 9:47pm

Ahhh bookel, that means you are slightly less special than you were yesterday. Sorry. :(

Jan 4, 2009, 9:57pm

LOL. Oh well!

Jan 4, 2009, 11:03pm

I'm at 44/349 which is not a very big change from August. I still have to catalog most of my indoor books, but I've bought and entered a bunch of books since then.


Jan 4, 2009, 11:19pm

# 89

Wondering? Do you have outdoor books in snowy Ithaca?

Jan 4, 2009, 11:22pm

90> I don't see why one couldn't, but I'm not in Ithaca; I just route my e-mail through there. (I thought about getting a Vonage telephone number there, but all I really need is my cellular telephone, so I haven't committed any money to the notion yet).


Jan 5, 2009, 5:14pm

2/561 The comics put a large skew on it though.

Jan 6, 2009, 2:53am

>69 Fogies: Our catalog remains unchanged. New figure: 32/318

Jan 6, 2009, 11:50am

I've been tracing our obscurity scores pretty much from the beginning of our joining LT. The evolution is interesting, though it is hard to separate out the effects of books we have added and growth of LT as a whole. We deliberately started with more obscure aspects of our collection and took a while to get to the most popular titles.

Here are our numbers from the beginning:

April, 2006: 1/2
June, 2006: 1/4
July 2006: 2/19
September, 2006: 2/38
October, 2006: 3/65
January, 2007: 4/105
March, 2007: 5/144
(Most of those changes I attribute to our adding more books. The jump between October 2006 and January 2007 for example includes our adding all of our Harry Potter books.)
March, 2008: 12/310
(Most of that change I attribute to the growth of LT as a whole. We added only a couple hundred books during that span and they were middling in popularity.)
Today January, 2009: 18/391
We've added another thousand or so books since March. I would have guessed that they were on average "more obscure" and would have worked against the upward pressure on our obscurity numbers, but so it goes.

Fev 7, 2011, 11:36pm

I am now at 31/549.

Fev 8, 2011, 12:35am

84/566 More and more I am less and less obscure.


Fev 8, 2011, 12:56am

(sigh) hadn't bothered looking at this for a while ... but since there was traffic in the group, I figured I'd take a peek

As of 02/07/2011 I'm at 77/940 ... just over 2 years ago (the last time I noted the numbers) I was at 53/663 ... I started out at 3/36

Fev 8, 2011, 8:30am

I'm at 6/682 today.

Fev 8, 2011, 8:47am


Fev 8, 2011, 9:18am

18/ 920

Fev 8, 2011, 9:23am


Fev 8, 2011, 12:35pm

I think my 6/682 is highly influenced by the language of the books. I have a lot of Danish books and since there aren't that many other Danes here, that pulls down my median, hence the 6. But also I tend to have some of the popular books in both Danish and English, so I have to count the Harry Potter books twice, LOTR twice, The Odyssey thrice etc, hence the 682.
Any others see the same pattern? (I think #46 is on the same track.)

Fev 8, 2011, 12:41pm

I have a lot of the top 20 books on library thing and I have a very large comic book collection. That accounts for most of my huge difference.

Jan 15, 2012, 2:47pm

6,230 Number of books

73/672 Median/mean book obscurity

As of January 16, 2012.

I wish I had kept track of earlier numbers.

Jan 15, 2012, 9:32pm

I am 37/610 with a little over 6,000 books. I was at 4/96 5 years ago about a month after joining -- maybe 800 books or so. A lot of growth on LT!

Jan 16, 2012, 1:07am

Ah, once again this subject is roused from its sleep ... and I have to go check the numbers:

As of 01/15/2012 - 85/1,027 ... which is quite a leap from my last checking, somewhat less than a year ago (77/940).

Jan 16, 2012, 1:18am

100/640, and I am still not clever enough to know what that really means except when I have the explanation immediately at hand. That is to say, someone can explain it to me, and it won't stick.


Jan 17, 2012, 8:32am

57/545 for 6800 books

Maio 4, 2012, 4:28pm

9/785 for 5294 books. See #102 for explanation.

Maio 4, 2012, 7:17pm

Now up to 38/623.

Maio 5, 2012, 10:18pm

As of 05/05/2012 - 88/1,051

Maio 6, 2012, 10:55am

I am 11/343 but I really don't have a clue what it all means, Alfie.

Jul 24, 2012, 6:05am

I have re-read the explanations, but I have always had a head for words and not numbers. Others discussing their statistics on here have very large libraries, but I have only 356 books, and a rating of 31/1,970.

Apparently a low median = lots of unshared books, but high mean = lots of books shared by lots of people.

Help, please? :)

Jul 24, 2012, 2:49pm

>113 Oliviine:

John and Jane both own three books. They put them on LibraryThing, and sort their book collections by "total members".

In John's library, book #1 is owned by 100 people, book #2 is owned by 100 people, and book #3 is owned by 100 people.

John's mean book obscurity is the sum of members who own each book in John's library divided by the number of books John owns:

(100 + 100 + 100) / 3 = 300 / 3 = 100 mean book obscurity

John's median book obscurity is the number of people who own John's "middle" book when John's library is sorted by total members, in this case book #2:

100 median book obscurity

John's median/mean book obscurity is 100/100 (in this case the slash is just a separator, not a division operator).

In Jane's library, book #1 is owned by 1 person (Jane), book #2 is owned by 10 people, and book #3 is owned by 289 people.

Jane's mean book obscurity is the sum of members who own each book in Jane's library divided by the number of books Jane owns:

(1+ 10+ 289) / 3 = 300 / 3 = 100 mean book obscurity

Jane's median book obscurity is the number of people who own Jane's "middle" book when Jane's library is sorted by total members, in this case book #2:

10 median book obscurity

Jane's median/mean book obscurity is 10/100 (again the slash is just a separator, not a division operator).

The difference between the median and the mean obscurity is a measure of how "skewed" the book distribution is. In this case, you might say Jane's library is "more obscure", because her median book is only owned by 10 people; but on the other hand the absolute numbers also mean something; Jane's most popular book is owned by almost three times as many people as John's most popular book (289 versus 100).

In your case, your mean obscurity is 1970:

(sum of all the LibraryThing members who own each book in Oliviine's library) / 356 = 1970

and your median is 31:

members who own book #178 (356/2) when Oliviine's library is sorted by "total members" = 31

Jul 28, 2012, 10:03pm

Aha, thank you setnahkt! That was the explanation I needed.