The Latest News From In the Stacks


Update on the In the Stacks Book Recommendation App

So what’s going on with the ITS app, anyway? Let me see….

You may have noticed the introduction of the new product from In the Stacks, the Librarian Brain. It’s a database of books reviewed by librarians. We’re compiling the data in a MySQL database, and this is what powers the web and mobile apps In the Stacks.

We’ve decided to run a private beta for the In the Stacks app, so we can do A/B testing on several different search scenarios within the Librarian Brain. Namely, experiments ranking the tallied book review data, using a basic recommender algorithm (we’re using the open source H20 product from 0xdata as the data dashboard over MySQL via Python) to give recs based on the bottom third, and using ensemble and semantic search strategies. We’re essentially mapping Librarian brains based on the data we’ve collected. After we run testing and land on search results we think are good enough to start with, we’ll begin training the data using machine learning and artificial intelligence, to encourage the database to think like a Librarian Brain, and provide the best book recommendations.

If the user is logged in, the app and Librarian List widget will combine the book suggestions from the Librarian Brain with user preferences, to provide Top 5 Picks personalized especially for them. If no user is logged in, the list will be a general Top 5 Book Picks at that point in time. We landed on this product 18 months ago and I’ve followed through with building it because I truly see the value in using librarian book recommendations to refine book discovery within a larger search engine.

That’s all I can share for now. Anyway, we need time to test this, and will use our appearances at conferences in the coming months to gather more beta tester users.

We’ve also reassessed our money-making options regarding which products realistically have the better chance of attracting users and turning a profit. Mobile apps don’t earn money unless they go viral, and an app sitting in the app stores priced at $.99 probably isn’t going to get noticed.

So, we’re offering a consumer-facing Librarian List of Top 5 Picks generated by the Librarian Brain, that can be installed within a digital experience. Bloggers, publishers, bookstores, authors, booklovers, and big enterprise clients can all partner with us to earn sales on any books sold. Booklovers will see the Librarian List everywhere (we hope!). Other options for products generated by the Librarian Brain seem endless, and we hope libraries will benefit, too.

The apps and the subscription-based Librarian List will be available in Fall 2015—or earlier, if you want to donate and be a beta tester! Or already have  [:)]

Please spread the word and donate to In the Stacks crowdfunder and help us bring the Librarian Brain to life. THANK YOU. I love you xo—Michelle Z. from the In the

ITS an open book: The Librarian Brain

If you’re wondering what we’re doing at In the Stacks (aka ITS), we’re building a Librarian Brain for Book recommendations.

Librarians are book experts. Librarians can be trusted. We can have confidence in librarians to provide stellar book recommendations and content curation. Currently, there are no products that aggregate librarian book recommendations (libraries pull reviews from primarily non-librarian reviewers to fulfill user requests) and there is no consumer-facing librarian recommendation service.

In the Stacks is the bridge connecting Libraries and the outside world. 99% of the people I meet don’t realize what libraries or librarians do, or the services available online. Through your local library’s website, you can check out eBooks and download them to your eReader for free—seriously! It’s incredible that a large portion of the public is unaware of this.

Why We’re doing ITS

That’s why at In the Stacks we’re building The Librarian Brain. It’s a database of every book any librarian has ever recommended. If it’s a book that’s been reviewed publicly by a librarian, then it’s in our database. ITS authentic, which is why we only include recommendations from degree-holding librarians. It can be used inside or outside the library, online, all the time.

We recognized a problem that needs to be solved. Let’s all do our part to move librarianship into the digital era. Think of a problem, where if you solve it, it will help others, too. We’re all in this together. It’s why we’re doing this. More people need to know about the amazing new ways they can benefit from using libraries.

Let Librarians Pick Your Next Read For You! Check Us Out at and sign up to receive personalized book recommendations. Thank you for reading.—Michelle Z. from In the

In the Stacks is Looking for Librarians to Join Us!

In the Stacks is looking for librarians to collaborate with on a variety of projects and endeavors. We’re looking for librarians who write novels, non-fiction, and memoir. In the Stacks is looking for librarians who write book reviews/blogs, or who do video book reviews/vlogs. We’re looking for librarians who code and develop technology. Please contact for more information.

Why ITS (aka In the Stacks) Matters

 Hint: We’re building a Librarian Brain for Book Recommendations

Sometimes I wonder if we’re not explaining very well what ITS really is. Is it just Michelle doing video book reviews? (ITS much more than that). Is anyone else In the Stacks? (YES! And we also have interns!) Why is Michelle continuing her grad school booktubing project? (Seriously, ITS so much more than that!)

Why does supporting the In the Stacks Librarian Book Recommendation App matter?

It’s because we’re creating a librarian brain of book recommendations. Who reads more or knows more about books than librarians? We want to share our brain with you, online, all the time.

We’ve collected data about books librarians have loved and reviewed from around the world. It’s years and years of publicly available information, in a database, that powers the In the Stacks Book Recommendation App.

When book lovers log in to the app, your personal preferences are combined with top librarian book picks. You get suggestions of books to read, that you will love.

We’re so grateful for the support this year, and are continuing to fundraise for the app launch at ALA San Francisco this June 2015. We also need to build a new website  [;)]

Help us build our app:

Thanks #booklover! More about future products from the In the Stacks Librarian Developer Lab coming imminently.

Happy Holidays from In the Stacks! Cheers—Michelle Z. and the rest of the ITS team

Digital Librarian Developer Lab

In the Stacks is expanding to provide digital services for libraries, publishing, and media. We offer everything from Website and App development, eBook Publishing services, to coordinating Video Production. We utilize existing digital tools and build new solutions when necessary. View the list we’ve compiled of available services to see if any of them fit your needs. If not, we’ll create a custom solution for you. Please contact for more information, and join the group on Facebook.

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