Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Changes to Trove Lists

The good, the bad and the ugly


Trove is one of my favourite sites for finding items related to my family history and for providing background to the life and times of these ancestors. It has a wonderful range of resources provided by the National Library of Australia in conjunction with a wide range of partners throughout Australia. This post from 2010 from the National Library of Australia provides some background to the early days of Trove. The site news page detailed developments from May 2009 until August 2016.

Since then, Trove has kept its users up to date with webinars and videos as new features were added. In 2019 I was pleased to contribute to surveys of Trove users about proposed changes to website structure and colours and in February 2020 we were given a glimpse of what was to be launched in June with the opportunity to provide some feedback.

The preview is now live for 4 days before the launch on June 26th. My comments in this post reflect my experience of the new interface from the point of view of a family historian with a teaching and librarianship background.


A new clean look is pleasing but with so much white space endless scrolling is needed on the screens I use.  I work on a 15" laptop and an iPad.

Text correction

Once the orange banner disappears from the new interface, text correction on the iPad will be easier. In the existing version of Trove editing text on a mobile device was very difficult.

Text correction on the laptop now has a very small window, starting more than half way down the full screen. The large green Edit text and the big black arrows take up a lot of space before one gets to the actual text. A thick black bar across the bottom limits this window space even further. At the most one can only see 7 or 8 lines of text.

The font is clear but one needs to scroll to get to the Download or Print buttons as the side bar icons start well down the page.


I have 43 saved lists in Trove, some public and some private. Some of my lists have over 300 items and the smallest list has only 2 items.  When I add a new item to a list I generally move it into date order within that list and add a note as to why I have saved it or copy in the text of the article or notice. 

Existing version of Lists
  1. All items in a list are displayed on one page. 
  2. Items are re-ordered by renumbering the item or using the arrows to move items up or down the page.
  3. Any item in the list can be searched for by date, name or any other criteria by using Find on page (CTRL-F) in the web browser. I use this frequently to locate previously saved items within long lists when I want to get an image of the item.
New version of Lists
  • Items in a list are spread over several pages with only 20 items per page.
    -- Only the items on a single page of a list can now be searched for within the list e.g. if I wished to find an article I had saved with the birth of a child in Quambi I would need to know on which page of the list that article appeared.
  • Items are reordered by renumbering the item or using the cross hairs to drag to another position.  -- Given that the list is now spread over several pages it is not possible to use the cross hairs to alter position across the pages.
  • Space taken up by a single item that has many tags
  • Thick green tags dominate items in a list where users have added many tags, they take up a lot of space further lengthening a list.
  • Lists can now be filtered by type of information e.g. family notice, article etc. Items can be found within lists by date range - very useful. *****
  • A new feature in lists is the ability to export a list. I was keen to try this but very disappointed to note that the csv of the exported list only contained a link to a thumbnail of the page not to the article itself. Removing the t at the end of the link in the csv only provided a slightly larger view of the page but does not provide a way into the page or article. The positive aspect of the csv is that it contained the notes I had made about each item.
  • Another new feature is collaborative lists. This will be useful for family historians who are researching the same families or locations.
No doubt I will grow accustomed to some of the new ways of looking at things and hope that some drawbacks in the new interface will be improved over time. In the meantime I advise those who rely on searching their lists in Trove to act quickly before June 26th.

How I have preserved my ability to search within my Trove lists -a workaround

*** Evernote to the rescue! ***

Today I have visited each of  my 43 lists in the existing version of Trove and saved each list to Evernote.
In a web browser - Use the Evernote clipper and choose either Article or Simplified Article, choose the notebook and add any tags and remarks then Save clip.
On iPad Use the share option in the browser to Send to Evernote,  If you want the simplified view, this can be applied to the list from within the Evernote app.

Each list becomes a separate note but all the items in that list are preserved on one page.
A view of some of my Trove lists in Evernote

Within each note the items appear just as they appeared in Trove - see below. The note has a direct link to the list in Trove and each item within the list also retains its own individual link to the exact article saved. 

The Payne list - a single note in Evernote shows the individual items

View of the same 2 items in a simplified list

This is just a work around so that I can search within any individual list. It also has the added advantage of the powerful Evernote search. 
Evernote indexes every word within these notes so now a search for Quambi it will show me all instances of that word across all of my lists. This is very useful for a family historian.

If this would work for you, be quick, you will need to do this before the changeover to the new Trove on June 26th. I tried to send my lists to Evernote from the new version of Trove but only received error messages. Any private lists need to be made public to send to Evernote. Once my private lists were in Evernote I reset them to private in Trove.

I will continue to utilise lists in Trove but do hope that the export to csv function is improved to provide active links to individual articles. I would also like to see the ability for the user to decided how many items in a list display on a page so that once again we would be able to search within our lists.

What features of the new Trove interface please you?

This post first appeared on https://carmelgalvin.info

Monday, 13 January 2020

Click on the Cat

Search the catalogue

This post describes the migration of an Access database to LibraryThing to make resources easy to search via the web platform TinyCat. I have written previously “Once upon a shelf” about the usefulness of this system for small libraries or personal collections.

TinyCat by LibraryThing provides an inexpensive web platform for small libraries. My local genealogical society has an Access database of resources. While this is useful, it is not web accessible and library solutions of web hosted databases are beyond the financial reach of our small volunteer organisation. To this end I have been uploading  our resources to LibraryThing to make them easy to search. LibraryThing  has a universal import function that accepts a wide range of file formats.
The process involved several steps but is simple enough for anyone with basic computer skills.
  1. Export local records from Access (any database)  to Excel (any spreadsheet) – skip this step if your records are already in a spreadsheet!
  2. Download the sample csv from LibraryThing
  3. Delete any fields not needed in the sample csv – we did not need Rating, Review or Date read as none of those were part of our database.
  4. Reorder the data columns to match the sample csv columns
  5. Insert the header row from the sample csv – the 7 fields used  - 'TITLE' | 'AUTHOR (last, first)' | 'DATE' | 'ISBN' | 'PUBLICATION INFO' | 'TAGS' | 'CALL NUMBER'
  6. Save the file as a csv with a meaningful title –  I chose to upload limited sections of data  progressively e.g. 200 records at a time.
  7. Upload at Import records.  The upload scans the file for valid ISBNs then identifies those records that have no ISBNs and asks for confirmation on how to proceed. LibraryThing does accept titles without ISBNs.
  8. Choose the most relevant cataloguing sources for your data. I chose to have LibraryThing search for the records firstly at the National Library of Australia, then the State Library of Queensland and the British Library. There are hundreds of reliable sources to find the books and other resources.
By uploading only a small portion of records, the data was usually processed within half an hour. I then checked each upload to see if all records had been processed or if a few needed to be edited or added manually. LibraryThing adds Dewey numbers and Subject Headings so we used the Tags field for our local subjects. The tags data needs editing but that is easy to do in LibraryThing with bulk edit.

While the process of uploading all our data is not yet complete, our online catalogue is now available for anyone to search. Still to be added – local Queensland resources, Journals and maps. Most of our CDs have been migrated to our internal data library.

At TinyCat I then set up preferences for what data appears on the home page and the search pages. LibraryThing’s YouTube channel has plenty of short videos on how to set up TinyCat features for the intended audience.

Future plans – later in the year we may add patrons and use the built in loans function, but first we’ll finish adding and tidying up the data. Here's our work in progress.

Cooroy-Noosa Genealogical & Historical Group TinyCat – Profile on LibraryThing
How to search our catalogue – a short screencast guide

Some small Australian libraries using LibraryThing and TinyCat

The profile links for these libraries show the variety of ways in which data can be structured, by collections, tags and media. The first link in each line is the TinyCat platform.


affordable, web interface
easy to add resources
Professional cataloguing data from hundreds of the world's libraries
built in circulation model
TinyCat features are adaptable to individual libraries - choose the fields you want displayed, edit the home page


A minor one but may be important for your organisation - No data field for purchase price, we'll keep this data elsewhere.

If your volunteer organisation has less than 20 000 records,TinyCat by LibraryThing may provide you with a cheap but professional online catalogue. I have no affiliation with LibraryThing other than being a satisfied personal user since 2006.

  • This post first appeared on https://carmelgalvin.info

Friday, 29 November 2019

10 years on

10 years on

On Monday 30 November 2009 I wrote my first blog post about the generosity of librarians who curate and share a wide range of resources. Ten years later and now retired, I still find much to read and share from those in the librarian sector. My posts are irregular but the beauty of blogging is in the longer form of content, more than a tweet, more than a picture on Instagram, less fleeting than Facebook. My original title Library Currants reflected my idea of providing small bites of hopefully useful information. Over time this blog has morphed more into a random collection of articles that I think might be of interest to others usually with a touch of “did you know about this” or “did you know how to do this.”

The world of blogging has connected me with a wide range of people throughout the years many of whom I continue to follow and learn from their wisdom. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge from Richard Byrne’s friendly advice at Free Tech for Teachers and Tim Sherratt’s explorations of the possibilities of digital collections. Dozens of other bloggers continue to  inspire. I use Feedly to gather the blogs and sites I want to read.

My family history interests have opened up a world of genealogy bloggers who share their tips and tricks. Just this week a referral from Dick Eastman’s Online newsletter sent me to a previously ‘unknown by me’ tool on Randy Major’s site. His most recent post Have you tried AncestorSearch on Google Search for searching for ancestors (or living people) lately? makes clever use of Google search advanced features. The tool AncestorSearch compiles a range of possibilities for the names that are input. Head over there and do try it out.

I used AncestorSearch to look for great grandparents Edward Smyth and Margaret Byrne. Yes, I already have quite a lot of information about them but was interested to see if anything else would be revealed. When the full Google search is run, the first result is a blog post I wrote on my family history blog over at Earlier Years.

No surprises there, but further down the results page is a Flickr reference to a stained glass window in their memory. While I have a similar photo taken with my phone, this one is so much better but I would never have found it by searching on Flickr.
Smyth memorial window - Tarlee Catholic church
Detail from Smyth memorial window - Tarlee Catholic Church (my version)
In the Flickr album photographer aquilareen has added all the photos of the windows in the Tarlee Catholic Church and some details of the families that can be found in Trove. In the comments section of these photos I have now added the links to my blog posts about some of those families the windows commemorate. So from a blog referral to a tool to a picture and back to my family history blog.

10 years on, still learning, still blogging. What joys has blogging brought to your life?