Social Cataloging in the Libraries Charlie Terng 610:550:02 December 03, 2009
Main Issue: Traditional classification system (controlled vocabulary) - vs - Social tagging
Terminology Controlled vocabulary An organized collection of words/phrases/names, structured to show the relationships between terms and concepts. Examples: LCSH, MeSH. Tags User-generated metadata used to describe the “aboutness” of an object.
Main differences Controlled vocab: Authoritative. Structured as a hierarchy. Ordered, systematic way to search for information. Tagging: Derived by the general public. Unstructured. More approachable, user-friendly way to search.
Issues with controlled vocabulary Hierarchy structure and specific terminology requires users to be knowledgeable or familiar in the subject area. Pre-determined listing takes user element out of it. “Look, but don't touch”. Non-interactive.
What tags can offer Cataloging system based on terms used by “regular people”. More intuitive way of searching. Free-flow path, no hierarchical structure. Current, up-to-date terms. Most importantly, more access points.
Example Library of Congress Subject Headings
Example LibraryThing tags
So why not just use tags? Quality/relevance of tags may vary (i.e., “spagging”). Tag clouds, evaluation by librarians are possible solution. Issues with specificity (i.e., squirrel topics). Although, LT's new “Tagmash” seems to fix this. Controlled vocabulary better for total recall.
Which should OPACs use? Not “either or”, but an integration of both. Their strengths cover each other's weaknesses. Different situations call for different methods. They also work well together. It's all about increasing access points.
LTFL is on the job 1,512 libraries served. 37 in NJ: LOGIN (20 libraries) Atlantic County System (10 libraries) Mount Laurel East Brunswick Public Camden County College Highland Park Public Cranbury Public
LibraryThing perks I see dead people's books. Tagmash Reviews, recommendations, booklists, etc. Will I like this?