Talpa

Talpa is a magical book search tool backed by true authoritative library data.

  • Method to the Magic

    Talpa combines so-called "AI" and authoritative book data. The AI comes from Claude AI from Anthropic and ChatGPT from OpenAI. Our authoritative book data comes from Bowker, Syndetics Unbound from ProQuest, and LibraryThing.

  • Reliable Results

    Unlike chatting with large language models directly, Talpa doesn't "hallucinate" books that don't exist—everything is checked against our massive storehouse of true and authoritative bibliographic data.

  • Search Modes

    Talpa Cover Search is a revolutionary search tool which allows you to find a book by searching the visual components of the cover, like the color or cover art.

    Talpa Search answers more in-depth queries about the contents of the book; perfect for those "it's-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue" moments where you can remember general facts about the book, but not the title itself. Talpa Search is also great at finding recommendations and readalikes.

  • Powerful

    Talpa is a solution for those hard-to-answer book questions, like "what's that thriller with Mona Lisa on the cover?", or "which Harry Potter book introduces S.P.E.W"?

    Talpa also plays well with others! Talpa for Libraries integrates your library holdings to show patrons results from your collection.

How does it work?

Talpa uses AI technology in two ways:

  • First, Talpa queries large language models from Anthropic and OpenAI for books and other media, validating every item against true and authoritative bibliographic data.
  • Second, Talpa uses the natural-language abilities of large language models to parse and understand queries, which are then answered with traditional library data. So, for example, a search for "novels about World War II in France" taps into subjects, tags, and character data from LibraryThing.

Unlike chatting with large language models directly, Talpa doesn't "hallucinate" books that don't exist—everything is checked against our massive storehouse of true and authoritative bibliographic data.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Talpa's ability to find books by their cover design isn't powered by AI at all, but by the effort of thousands of book lovers who have played LibraryThing's CoverGuess cover-tagging game since 2010!

Talpa for Libraries

Bring the magic of Talpa to your staff and patrons.

Talpa for Libraries is branded with your library's name, and items in your library's collection are given precedence in the results. Each result in Talpa links directly to that record in your library's catalog.

Talpa can be launched from your library's website or from the catalog. Patrons love being able to search the library catalog with the same natural language that modern search engines have accustomed us to. Librarians love Talpa as not only a reference and readers advisory tool, but also as a collection development resource. Talpa for Libraries includes an admin portal with usage statistics and customization options.

Get Talpa in your Library

Contact [email protected] to get started.

Behind the Scenes

What are you working on?

Talpa is in active development, and we want your feedback!

If you have any suggestions or comments, email [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!

Who made this?

Talpa Search is project of LibraryThing. We make the personal cataloging site LibraryThing.com and the small-institution catalog system TinyCat. Together with ProQuest, we are the co-creators of Syndetics Unbound.

What's in a name?

Talpa is the Latin word for mole! Now you know.