The Loose Cannon Librarian has done a very cool thing: she's mashed the Danbury Library catalog with the social networking tools of Library Thing for Libraries (read more about it on the Library Thing blog).
If you look for a book & want to find "more like this" (more Irish fiction, say, like Maeve Binchy's recent Whitethorn Woods), you could, of course, click on the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) Highway bypasses -- Ireland -- Fiction. But really, how many books are there with that subject heading in the catalog? (answer: in Danbury's catalog, 3 -- all different editions of the same book; in WorldCat, the answer is 1 - they've managed to put al three editions onto one record. But I digress).
So while the LCSH works sometimes, it's not useful for Reader's Advisory, or helping patrons find more books they want to read on a given topic.
What does help is social networking tools like tagging. Which LibraryThing does nicely. Until now, though, Library Thing has been primarily for personal use -- you can see the books (mostly fiction) I’ve cataloged there, but Library Thing has some great potential beyond just the personal. And true to their name, they're expanding to ... libraries!
Check out the Danbury catalog record for Whitethorn Woods: you can see those standoffish subject headings and also some neat tags leading you to related books. If you look at "Similar Books," you'll see a few others by Maeve Binchy, plus some you might not have considered. One cool thing is that it only shows similar books that are in the Danbury catalog -- so you don't get recommendations of books you can't borrow from Danbury.
See also (heh) the record for Anchee Min's terrific Empress Orchid, with the LCSH Tzu-hsi, Empress dowager of China, 1835-1908 -- Fiction. All right, so the subject tells you what the book's about, but ... what else would you read if you liked Empress Orchid? Library Thing readers suggest some similar books available in Danbury, such as Lisa See's also terrific Snow flower and the secret fan, and Gail Tsukiyama's Night of many dreams, which a f2f friend recommended to me.
Check it out & ask for it @ your library!
Read more about it
* from the Danbury Library's perspective at Loose Cannon Librarian
* from Library Thing at Library Thing for Libraries