Moving Tagging Into The OPAC

A previous post about “Social Bookmarking and Tagging at Academic Libraries” pointed ACRLog readers to “Penn Tags“, a social bookmarking community created by the librarians at the University of Pennsylvania for their user community. Michael Winkler, the Penn Library System’s web guru and systems programmer extraordinaire, left a new comment on that post. Realizing that most ACRLog readers would probably miss a comment to a post from January 2, 2006 I decided it would be worthwhile to add a new item about Penn’s new take on how tagging can help OPAC users connect with library content. Winkler, in his comment, indicates this is in an early stage of development, but it is now allowing users to add tags to OPAC records. He didn’t mention the specifics on how it works but take a look at:

Interesting stuff. I can click on the tags in the OPAC record to see other items this user found valuable in this same content area, and that can lead me to additional resources for my research project. I will look forward to hearing more about this OPAC innovation. I guess this is one reason, if we want to make progress in the Web 2.0 world, we really do need a supply of those “feral professionals” as our library colleagues.

4 thoughts on “Moving Tagging Into The OPAC”

  1. The link didn’t work 🙁

    Despite my own post today, let it not be said that I don’t think this sort of enhancement to the OPAC is both very cool and very useful (because I do).

    Amazon reviews and book lists, Flickr tags, and whatever comes next are training users to be engaged with their libraries and with their information environment and that is a good thing. The opportunities for integration with other information management systems frequented by our users (enterprise or mobile) are ever changing, and it’s good to see leaders like Penn showing us how to get on the bus.

  2. Except…. oh dear, will I be a fuddy-duddy? Librarian .5?

    Amazon reviews have some value, but they are also massively manipulated, as was proved (though everyone already knew it) when there was a glitch and names were revealed showing how often authors were posting rave reviews of their own stuff. Now there is a nod toward “real names” but they are still manipulated. Maybe this will be less of a problem in library catalogs, since the audience is smaller and the titles are selected, but we’ve had drive-by authors recommend we order their books using a form meant for our own campus community. Just please God, don’t have a star system. Whenever there’s a graphic ranking, things get screwy because it invites manipulation, or something of value looking bad because of a cranky review. And there’s no allowance for the fact people can disagree about a book and it’s still a good book.

    Also, did I interpret that comment correctly? (The link worked for me.) It looked as if it was a Library Journal review. I’d rather have an agreement with PW and/or LJ to load their reviews than have people paste them in. Then again, I’m not sure I want students to put much faith in one or two reviews anyway.

  3. Good points, but manipulation is always a threat in this environment (see the recent discussions of Capitol Hill influence over Wikipedia entries). It’s new territory, but, esp. in an academic environment, there are ways to provide some measure of identification/authentication. Moving target!

    I agree about pasting reviews. When I was in Washington, we did a trial of a service that allowed up to access reviews from LJ and others directly from our OPAC record. I wouldn’t say that it was wildly popular, but I know people (esp. faculty did use it) (I know this not from formal assessment, but because they tended to e-mail me when they found one of my LJ reviews of a book they wanted through this link – I think some faculty are surprised to find that librarians write reviews of books in their field).

  4. And were they massively annoyed? “Who do you think you are…” 🙂

    I think I may be shrinking into Library .2 or .1 if I say this, but what they hey. You know what I want from a catalog? I want to be able to find information (usually in the form of books that I know I can get my hands on). If we put half the energy that goes into bells and whistles (usually designed by vendors who don’t use libraries and don’t listen to librarians) into deeper subject analysis that works, we’d be better off.

    Why is it that anyone who posts a photo to Flikr assigns 8 or 9 tags to make it findable and we think two subject headings is adequate for a whole book?! Because we’re cheap. And now we’re all excited because volunteers will have a chance to make stuff findable.

    I really think there are two different things going on here. One is joining the interactivity bandwagon. Okay, whatever, but frankly most of my students will be spending more time with Facebook than interacting with my catalog no matter how much fun we think it will be. The other is that despite our supposed expertise in organizing information, we do a crap job when it comes to subject access.

    I did like Penn’s use of “find more books like this” which shows linked subject headings. But if the subject headings aren’t adequate, it won’t really work. Also, in a small library, a heading with multiple subheadings will find only one book, the one you already found, which is frustrating.

    So there you have it, a grumpy rant from the Incredible Shrinking Librarian, who agrees with Tom Mann we need more guerilla catalogiing.

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