The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise?

David Lee King

Cindi Trainor

Michael Porter

Meredith Farkas

Roy Tennant, Moderator

 

Description of the analogy of the elephant – People grab onto different parts and form an opinion based

 

Q – What does library 2.0 mean to you?

 

Cindi – It’s not just a set of tools and technologies. It’s a philosophy. It’s about creating services and spaces for users that invite them.

 

Michael – What libraries do to fulfill their roles as community anchors has to change. There are new tools tht make us more vibrant and more relevant than ever before.

 

Meredith – Creation of services as an iterative process. You’re constantly fixing and assessing. It’s about putting our money where our mouth is and being really user focused.

 

David – Wikipedia as a tool – It’s a new way to present information and to let everyone contribute their knowledge. It’s a new philosophy about how to do things.

 

Michael – I’m more interested in what works. I don’t care about Twitter or Gmail or Facebook. Focus on why the tools do or do not meet our needs.

Cindi – It’s useful to think of Library 2.0 as a derivative of Web 2.0. Distinguish new types of companies from dotcom bubble companies. It enables software as a platform. There are applications on the web (not just on the desktop).

 

Meredith – Technologies that allow us to build communities and communicate with one another. People form relationships with others who are only electronic blips.

 

David – Making tech tools easy for non-tech audience to use. 2.0 technologies are made to connect people. If it is succeeding, the technology is out of the way.

 

Michael – 2.0 technologies can be distracting. It’s hard to know what to use as brands change (so pay attention to functionality). It’s very difficult to track the success (or lack thereof) of your institution’s use of these tools. It’s all anecdotal.

 

David – It’s sad that we’re still trying to figure these tools out because some of them are 15 years old. Disagree with Michael on tracking success. You can find blog stats. If users are commenting, then they are reading and engaged. Facebook gives some basic statistics and demographics.

 

Cindi – Just because someone had a page open for 10 minutes, how do you know they were actually reading it and not talking with friends?

 

Meredith – It’s scary that so little assessment is being done. We’re spending time on these services. Why not assess them?

 

Michael – If you use the reporting tools from these various sites, they don’t always sync up on the same timeline. When the way you report is numbers-numbers-numbers, that doesn’t account for social connections and interactions and how people’s lives are impacted.

 

Cindi – Tools like WordPress, Blogger, PBWiki, and Flickr gives libraries the power to reach out to audiences in new ways.

 

David – In a normal library, how do you capture this anecdotal evidence? It’s recorded in these social tools.

 

Q – What are some of the barriers you see to libraries adopting and using these new tools?

 

Meredith – We’re entrusting our knowledge and hard work to third party sites that may or may not be there in the future. Twitter is a good example of a highly popular service that is constantly losing money. People aren’t planning for web 2.0 tools the same way they’re planning for others with regard to backups, etc.

 

Cindi – Any time you want to do something new or create a new service, don’t be afraid of failing. Take a risk management approach. What are the terms of service?

 

David – What are the barriers? Technology. The bigger barriers are our own. If you want to really "get" a technology, you have to immerse yourself in it.

 

Michael – Years ago, there was a debate in public libraries about whether to circulate fiction. In the 1970s the companies that produced VHS and Betamax tapes went to court to prevent libraries from circulating them. Do we circulate digital movies in our libraries? Very few. Go to Netflix. THEY circulate digital movies. These companies are usurping our content distribution. If we don’t figure out a better way to circulate digital content, we’re in deep trouble. Setting up a blog or a Flickr stream are first steps in doing something about it.

 

Meredith – Time is a barrier. People say that they don’t have time to learn or do a new thing. People are asked to do new things, but no responsibilities are being taken away from their jobs. This has to change at the organizational level. People have to be given the time and resources to do this.

 

Michael – Use the tools to get more effort out of what you’re doing.

 

Meredith – We spend a lot of time outside of work learning to do these things. If our administrators don’t give us time and resources to do these things, then they don’t value them.

 

David – Some people are better at managing their time than others. Reference librarians do 20 hours n the reference desk and 20 off. What are they doing with the unscheduled time?

 

Q – What libraries are good examples of using 2.0 technologies and principles?

 

Michael – Lester Public Library in Wisconsin.

 

Q – What is the one thing you want to say to the audience?

 

David – Administrators and managers – let your staff go with it. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a filed project and learn something from it. That’s a positive outcome.

 

Meredith – These technologies are not a magic wand. We shouldn’t use a tool just because someone else is. Think about what is appropriate to your audience.

 

Michael – If you focus on your role and mission in your community, you’ll be fine.

 

Cindi – It’s a matter of having someone in your library who understands the role of these tools in the community.

 

Q – How can library 2.0 tools be supported in brick and mortar libraries?

 

David – We had a tweetup with free food sponsored by a local tv station. The library will be hosting a conference on 2.0 tools for the community.

 

Q – What are ways to help people who are intimidated by computers, let alone 2.0 technologies?

 

David – If you have staff who are still intimidated by computers, why did you hire them, and why do you still have them? Why have you not fired those people if they are not fulfilling their roles?

 

Michael – I’m a big advocate of partnering people. Pair someone with greater technology skills with someone with lesser skills.

 

Meredith – Technology petting zoos. I like the idea of having a place where people can play with technology in a non-threatening environment. Host a training session where people can just play around.

 

Cindi – Subject guide boot camp. People will spend all day together working on subject guides  and reinforcing their skills.

 

Q – It sounds like a lot of library 2.0 is marketing. Would you say that that sums it up or is there something that goes against that?

David – That’s only part of the picture. Marketing is part of it because it’s a broadcast medium. It’s also a collaboration platform for connecting and sharing. It’s more about using pooled knowledge to come up with a better idea.

 

Cindi – It’s also a tool that lets users give feedback to us. It’s not just a wooden suggestion box in the corner.

 

Q – If you’re going to have a technology petting zoo, what tools would you show them?

 

Meredith – It depends on your population, what they need, and what will be appropriate to them.

 

Michael – Kindle, iPhone, Palm Pre, Flip camera, Livescribe Pulse

 

________________

 

David – Set your priorities and focus on them. Don’t focus on what will take the most or least amount of time.

 

Michael – If you’re going to do something like a blog, you have to have the plan, commitment, and follow-through to keep it updated.

 

Q – What some of the privacy pitfalls that we need to be aware of and let our patrons know about?

 

Michael – Every company doing these social tools is a for-profit enterprise. We care about privacy, but these companies don’t. I think there should be a non-profit connected to libraries that develops tools like this.

 

David – The bigger privacy concern is just a lack of understanding about what these tools do, where they go, and who follows them. People THINK they’re being anonymous. Some people don’t quite understand the tools well enough to know who can read them.

 

Q – There are people with legitimate arguments and complaints that Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time. These users may be feeling left behind in face of 2.0 initiatives.

 

David – The largest growing segment of Facebook users is the over-50 group.

 

Michael – We don’t have any trouble doing what we’ve always done.

 

David – My job is digital branch manager. My patrons ARE these users of digital tools.

 

Additional Reading

 

The Great Debate – Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? – at Librarian by Day

 

Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? at LITA Blog

 

Starter Questions for Ultimate Debate 2009 by David Lee King

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BIGWIG Social Software Showcase

Google Wave – Jason Griffey

Google describes Wave as e-mail if you invented it now.

Check out more info at http://www.yourbigwig.com/node/154.

Wave seamlessly knows if people are online or offline. The service is synchronous if everyone is online, asynchronous if they are offline.
If someone is added to the wave, the new person can see everything that has happened in the wave, and – if allowed – they can edit everything that has happened. It allows real-time and asynchronous editing of multiple pieces of information by multiple people.

Google is planning to open-source this product. It will be downloadable an installable to local servers.

A wave is an embeddable client. You can get to it from anywhere. For example, you could have a reference wave with all reference librarians a member, and students can be part of it as well. Multiple libraries can participate in shared wave reference.

You can write plug-ins for it. Google demoed a robot plug-in that can parse text and automatically respond. This can happen with no human intervention. For example, a student needs resources for a Sociology 101 paper. The robot could parse "sociology 101" and recommend the sociology subject guide, the top sociology databases, etc.

A robot could parse the name of a book, search the library catalog, and automatically return results to patrons.

Semantic Web – Julia Bauder

The underlying concept is to make the web machine readable. The idea is to eventually make the web work like Wolfram Alpha: you ask a question and the answer gives you an answer.

With this concept, the answer just pops up. This raises the obvious question of information validity.
To make the semantic web work, everything (including people) has a universal identifier. Privacy concerns.

Q – What are companies doing to facilitate this?
A – Not much yet. There are semantic web browsers out there, but you have to know a subject’s universal identifier. You can’t do natural language searches.

 

Facebook Pages – David Lee King

Using Facebook to push programming – Facebook Events
Meetings are listed selectively because this facility hosts thousands of meetings. They’ve tried some discussions through Facebook, but that hasn’t gotten particularly good response. Status updates have been the most successful tool.

The Facebook statistics have revealed some information about their users, and they have used that to market to their high use constituencies.
Content is updated by David, two web people, and the marketing person (but mainly the marketing person).

Q – Do you have photos and videos?
Y – We’re using boxes for YouTube and Flicker.

Q – How are academic libraries increasing use of their page?
A – We’re posting fun things such as news stories about the anniversary of the Sony Walkman. We’re trying not to be too librarian-y.

Upcoming instruction sessions can be advertised. Some libraries are are friending their student workers, and that leads to some additional friends.
One of the big issues is deciding what your Facebook identity is.

Facebook can also be used to give status updates and construction and renovation projects.

 

Cloud Computing – Matt Hamilton, Cindi Trainor

Computing power moves from your local device to the server on the web.
Cloud computing is like Play-Doh. Break off a little or large piece depending on what you need. When you’re finished, it goes back into the big lump for everyone else to use.
There are software and tools aimed specifically at libraries: Liblime, SFX, ILLiad are all available as hosted services. You don’t have to have staff who can manage server hardware and OS.
Other tools – Google Docs, DropBox
Distinction between having servers in the cloud vs. having services in the cloud.
Amazon idea – companies spend a lot of their resources on supporting the infrastructure. What might happen if you could shift the infrastructure support and focus more local resources on development and innovation?
What about the security of your data? When you put your information on someone else’s server, you’re subject to their privacy policies, their backup procedures, their disaster recovery plans, etc.

 

Government Information Mashups – Rebecca Blakely

Think about extracting raw data and combining it with services to make something new.
www.data.gov

Individuals and non-profits are using this information. Check out www.ilive.at

www.recovery.org – Non-profit site used the http://www.recovery.gov data to create something better.

EPA – Toxic Release Inventory

www.opencongress.org – Pulls data from other government sources.

Managing Staff Furloughs – Melissa Shepherd

Used Drupal to manage furlough information. Many user-developed modules already available.

 

Mobile Websites and Applications – Cody Hanson

Beta site is in development for the UMN community.
Site is developed primarily for the iPhone because it has the most forgiving browser.
Mobile site is php-based.

Site is using Metalib to provide mobile-optimized search results/interface for specific databases.

Q – What level of expertise is required?
A – The lead developer has a lot of PHP experience as well as experience with the ILS.

Q – Did you have a lot of demand from the users? Is that what drove the development?
A – No, we just thought it would be cool.

Q – How much development time has been invested?
A – We’ve just had one developer who sent 2-3 days.

Q – What kind of usability testing will you be using?
A – We do a fair amount of usability testing, but our usability lab is setup for desktop testing. Still trying to figure out how we’ll do this in a mobile environment.

Social Networking and Changing Terms of Service

Last month brought a lot of hoopla over Facebook’s change to the terms of service agreements with users. (See references below for more reading.) Now it seems that Eastman Kodak Co. also has a change that has generated some user ire. According to a recent AP story, Kodak’s free online photo hosting service is no longer free. It sounds like Kodak is asking users to make a modest minimum purchase in order to keep using the storage services. Users who fail to do that risk having their photos deleted.

These two cases sound like they are at extreme ends of the spectrum. Kodak’s change sounds reasonable to me. They don’t want to just provide free storage for people who never make a purchase, so they’re asking customers to buy a few photos. On the other end, Facebook has essentially told its users that even if they delete their accounts, Facebook has the right to do what it wants to with their content forever. Can you imagine Facebook taking one of your photos and using it in an advertising campaign? Sounds like they have given themselves the right to do just that.

Now as I said, Kodak sounds reasonable, and Facebook sounds unreasonable. The thing that really surprises me though, is what people are getting upset about. From a lot of the reading I’ve done, people are not as upset about the new TOS as they are that the terms have changed at all. They somehow seem to think that they are entitled to non-changing usage agreements. Why? Yeah we pretty much get that when we buy a piece of software, but TOS agreements change OFTEN with SERVICES. Anyone still paying the same cable, electricity, telephone, or water rates they were 10 years ago? I doubt it. Economic condition changes, management conditions change, company goals change, and terms of service agreements change. How does the Internet generate this sense of entitlement that makes people think they should have a free ride forever, and that companies should never be allowed to alter their terms of service? You know most providers include that clause that says they can change TOS at any time. Or did you miss that? Interesting to note that enough people complained, and Facebook reversed the decision.

 

References

Facebook’s New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."
Facebook Responds to Concerns Over Terms of Service
Facebook Terms of Use
Consumers can be stuck when Web sites change terms
Facebook Reverts Back to Old Terms of Service

Your Social (After)Life

So what exactly happens when someone disappears from your social network and is never heard from again? Did they just move on to other activities? Or did they get mad at someone in the circle and write you all off? Or did they perhaps . . . die?

A recent AP story highlighted a few tales where the latter was actually the case. A person died, and relatives were left trying to make contacts with online friends to let them know what had happened. Seems like a few enterprising folks have found a new way to make money out of death. A couple of online services will take care of these after-death notifications for you so your friends won’t be left wondering.

For more information . . .

http://www.deathswitch.com
http://www.slightlymorbid.com

Web 2.0 and Too Much Stuff

As I listen to people talk in various sessions, it’s clear that many librarians are feeling overwhelmed by the exploding number of Web 2.0 (and other) applications out there. Which ones will “stick”? Which ones will patrons actually use? How steep is the learning curve for staff? Which ones can the library’s budget support? Which ones can the library’s personnel support?

 

Many libraries are still struggling with these questions and just trying to figure out how to get started. While there are a few libraries fortunate enough to have an employee charged with investigating these new technologies, most are not. So where do we start?

 

It strikes me that a good approach is to look for people who already have those skills. Many employees, student employees, or even patrons may already have a good handle on using a certain tool. Find them. Harness their knowledge. Use it to give yourselves a jump start.

 

No one can jump onto and follow every new trend that comes along, but you can find out what your patrons are using. If no one on staff is using it, how about asking the patron for help? Most people really enjoy sharing knowledge, especially when they feel that they are the expert. If we try to tap into patrons’ knowledge, students’ skills, and staff interests, I think we’ll be surprised at the number of services where we already have a built-in knowledgebase.

Top Tech Trends – Denver, pt. 2

ALA Midwinter 2009 Trendsters: Marshall Breeding, Karen Coombs, Roy Tennant, Clifford Lynch, Karen Schneider, Karen Coyle

 

Karen Coyle – A lot of what’s happening is not new technology but issues around management of technology

 

Karen Schneider – Recapturing tools creation. 80s-90s – dark ages where other people were creating the tools for us.

 

Clifford Lynch – Flickr commons. Library of Congress and New York Public putting photos online. Some people are looking at ways to re-import this information into their own databases.

 

Question – Is there anything that has been the proof of the pudding that librarians can build and maintain our own tools?

 

Karen Schneider – The test for open-source software seems to be whether it can move past the founding library or founding community. The verdict is still out on whether it can be successful in the long run.

 

Karen Coyle – If software is not allowed to fork in different directions, we’re locked into the same old model where everyone is doing exactly the same thing.

 

Forking (def.) – when a project divides significantly enough so that there is no one thing that people refer to as the core code.

 

Roy Tennant – Flickr Commons – We need to find ways to feed that information back into our systems more easily. Catalogers trying to feed that information back into our systems is not going to scale.

 

Clifford Lynch – People went to Flickr because it was there and it had a user base. What is significant is that it builds bridges between existing stores of knowledge.

 

Clifford Lynch – Widespread markup of biographical and historical narratives.

 

Karen Coyle – With the ubiquity of global positioning, information is going to be more location contextual.

 

Marshall Breeding – It’s going to take a while to get there.

 

Karen Coombs – There is a point at which GPS just isn’t good enough. Users need help finding items even within the building.

 

Clifford Lynch – GPS has largely been used for driving directions or missile strikes. There is a whole set of technologies that can be used to narrow this down much more. Now that GPS is moving ubiquitously into cell phones, we’ll see a second generation of spatial applications.

 

Marshall Breeding – We’re already getting location-targeted information. When we surf the web in a new city, we get location-targeted ads.

 

Karen Coombs – Geographical-based services. Too many locations are looking at IP address or asking users to input a zip code. Systems need to consider that where you are physically doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your affiliation.

 

Karen Coombs – Google Scholar lets you set institutions with which you are affiliated.

 

Karen Coyle – Open street map for libraries. People are walking around with GPS units and replicating Google street view with an open

 

Roy Tennant – People putting data on the web through stable URIs. We’re looking at putting data out. It will be interesting to see what kind of linkages people make with that data.

 

Marshall Breeding – What are some examples?

 

Roy Tennant – We don’t know yet, and that’s the interesting part. What will people find to do with it?

 

Clifford Lynch – In scientific communities people

 

Roy Tennant – Small slice of a particular discipline.

 

Question from audience – Does the new ORE standard have implications for this?

 

Karen Coyle – Data elements have to be on the web.

 

Clifford Lynch – ORE is really intended to allow to you work with objects or groups of objects rather than the metadata about those objects. It’s built to be consistent with semantic web standards.

 

Karen Coombs – ORE is a good for moving the objects themselves.

 

Karen Coyle – We have the amoeba form of linked data in hypertext. But all we have is a link that doesn’t tell you anything about what it means, and it’s only one-way. How do we get the links to be meaningful?

 

Karen Coombs – We code HTML in the simplest way possible and don’t use it to its full potential.

 

Karen Schneider – I think I’m seeing some controlled burn in libraries due to economic pressures. They’re having to make hard decisions that they would not otherwise have had to make. Public libraries have never had higher traffic but they’ve never had such economic pressures.

 

Karen Coyle – Public libraries circulating 3-4 times their collection every year can make a good argument for RFID. Maybe more difficult for academics.

 

Karen Schneider – If you were opening a new library tomorrow, you’d have to think about RFID and self-checkout.

 

Karen Coyle – Most libraries in study made the switch to RFID when opening a new branch or doing renovation.

 

Karen Coombs – How many ILL requests do people cancel because you have it already or because you don’t loan textbooks. We have to work smarter so we’re

 

Karen Schneider – How about RFID for item location in the stacks.

 

Karen Schneider – One vendor using advanced shipping notices for acquisitions. ASN is used ubiquitously in the commercial book world. Almost unknown in libraries.

 

Marshall Breeding – We’re concerned about processes and our control of material – not just how to fulfill user needs. We need to find a way to get that one-click user satisfaction.

 

Karen Coombs – Books have to go to cataloging and then to shelves or reserve. It would make patrons much happier if it went directly to faculty.

 

Karen Coyle -RFID in public libraries for self-check – much faster. Libraries that have a high level of self-check also circulate a high-level of self-help materials since they don’t have to pass those materials through a staff member. More privacy.

 

Audience comment – No lines for check-out, but longer lines for check-in because the automated technology can’t keep up.

 

Karen Schneider – Brisbane, Australia – Amazing city library that is completely self-check. You can also watch robots check in materials. It takes something mundane and makes it fun and entertaining. Humans are used intelligently for error handling, and let automation do what it does well.

 

Karen Schneider – You don’t want to tie people to routine, mundane tasks when they could be roaming around helping users.

 

Karen Schneider – There is one library that uses a biometric station for patrons who have forgotten their library cards.

 

Karen Coombs – We have think carefully about our processes and apply cost effective solutions. How many times does someone from systems have to work on a malfunctioning piece of hardware before we just replace it.

 

Karen Schneider – Total neglect of getting good bandwidth to the extreme ends of rural areas. Very forward thinking rural libraries that are hampered by limited bandwidth. It’s not a money problem, it’s an end-of-the-road problem.

 

Karen Coombs – Utility companies (cable, cell, etc.) think it’s not cost effective to provide services in some areas.

 

Clifford Lynch – this is a public policy problem.

 

Marshall Breeding – The lack of bandwidth to rural libraries has an impact on how they automate. Can they do resource sharing? Can they participate in consortia?

 

Audience comment – Large new Gates program addressing rural telecommunications.

 

Karen Schneider – That’s wonderful, but it’s going to be a drop in the bucket.

 

Karen Coombs – Technology is like a ravenous puppy running around eating the whole house. If libraries can’t get funding to continuously replace equipment, it quickly goes back to being bad.

 

Marshall Breeding – WiMax is supposed to solve some of the bandwidth problems. It just hasn’t solved the problems.

 

Karen Coombs – Some rural success stories come from municipalities that have partnered to provide higher bandwidth to residents.

 

Karen Coyle – Open and closed models of sharing data. Closed models are easy to understand. Open allows innovation, but it’s harder to understand the business model. I hope we’re beginning to understand the difference in databases and the web as our data platform.

There are a number of people trying to use technology to solve rights questions.

 

Karen Schneider – The death of print publishing. It’s on life support. We’re seeing the death of paper with newspapers and magazines. For those of us who have been publishing in the traditional paper world, this is very serious.

We’re starting to see sensible measurements of the carbon footprint in data centers.

 

Marshall Breeding – I fly only on plug-in hybrid planes!

 

Clifford Lynch – Newspapers seem to be melting down economically

Newspapers have ramifications for community building and community definition. If these move only to the web the question of how they’re archived changes in a radical way. The way people interact with displays is beginning to change. New generations of technology – e-ink, desktops with multiple monitors is commonplace.

Libraries are still locked into single-screen setups.

Recent study about higher ed costs have changed. Argues that all of the cost increases have gone into administration and overhead rather than teaching. The data looks strange because technology is lumped under overhead.

Evidence based studies about how technology enhances teaching and learning.

 

Roy Tennant – I don’t see the book publishing industry melting down.

There are new ways to publish that were not available before.

 

Clifford Lynch – Books – Distribution of what’s being published is changing. Authors are getting different options.

If libraries want to collect books, it’s no longer adequate to just look at what’s coming out of traditional publishing.

 

Karen Schneider – Book publishing is in serious trouble.

 

Roy Tennant – More important to focus on making good technology decisions.

How do we decide when to jump in? How do we decide when to get out?

 

Karen Coombs – What it takes to do true digital preservation – It’s very scary. Collections we rely on that other people curate. I don’t have a lot of confidence.

 

Clifford Lynch – The stuff that is already digital is probably in better shape than other things.

 

Karen Coombs – Some of the smaller journals – if they can’t get their content on the web, then I don’t trust their preservation.

 

Marshall Breeding – I worry about libraries not doing long-term digital preservation. Local libraries don’t necessarily have the resources to do that.

This is not something that every library needs to reinvent. There are a lot of local installations.

Discovery interfaces. Much work is being done on these be-all, end-all solutions. Looking for better ways to expose library collections and services.

An urgency to libraries to prevent a better front end to our users, but we are sluggish about doing it. We’re taking our usual slow-and-cautious, wait until it’s perfect approach.

Taking user-supplied content and improving it through web 2.0 features.

LibraryThing for Libraries being distributed through Bowker.

Open source companies – Open source is getting good, but not great reviews. Maybe some growing pains as software matures.

 

Clifford Lynch – If you’re a smaller scale library (smaller than national or major research)

We need to do a better job on collaborative arrangements, external services that smaller institutions can acquire.

Smaller libraries often simply cannot afford substantial preservation programs on their own. This is an incredibly hard problem because nobody wants to fund this stuff.

 

Marshall Breeding – Is has to be done as a collaborative effort. It’s simply too big and too expensive to be done library by library.

Talking Tags

We’re currently in the midst of a library catalog redesign. Last week we had an open discussion forum to look at some of the new features that are available in the new release as well as some optional enhancements. On the enhancements side we looked at a book jacket service as well as LibraryThing. LibraryThing offers a set of enhancements which include tags, similar books, and other editions. I personally find the similar books feature to be very useful, and of course tag clouds are beginning to show up in more places.

LibraryThing sparked several interesting discussions. Two of the discussion points focused on issues that I’ve heard a number of times when discussing tagging. One point emphasizes the detail and specificity of Library of Congress subject Headings. The other point highlights the ability of keyword searches to retrieve content that users need. If we already have subject Headings and keyword searches, why do we need tags?

I think this is a valid question which deserves an answer, but perhaps not necessarily the answer one might expect. I don’t think of tags as a replacement for subject headings or keyword searches. Instead, the tags provide a function that goes directly to the core of web 2.0 technologies. Tags allow users to organize and interact with content in a way that is meaningful to them. Tags may also help users find books in the catalog, and it’s great if that happens. But I think it’s more significant that tags allow users to truly work with the content contained in the library catalog rather than just passively reading a screen and perhaps jotting down a call number.

In the end I don’t know if we’ll add LibraryThing enhancements to our catalog, but it’s definitely worth consideration. The product that has a lot of promise, and it sparked some interesting discussion during our forum. Many people saw the immediate value that these enhancements could add to the library catalog. Perhaps most importantly, we had a number of students present for our discussion, and THEY saw the benefits these enhancements would bring. That’s what’s it really all about, after all.