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Social metadata for libraries, archives and museums: Research findings from the RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group, October 2010

Social metadata for libraries, archives and museums: Research findings from the RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group, October 2010



The presentative gives research findings from the Research Libraries Group (RLG) on Social Metadata Working Group. The group worked from 2009-2010 researching sites that used social media features ...

The presentative gives research findings from the Research Libraries Group (RLG) on Social Metadata Working Group. The group worked from 2009-2010 researching sites that used social media features before making some recommendations to libraries, archives and museums.



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  • Our original focus. Now lets just take a look at what’s happening regarding social metadata in our planet…..
  • DG of NLA May 2010 said in a web 2.0 strategy group meeting – “ Run free. I endorse chaos, failure and trial an error. I don’t want to impose controls from above, that would stifle creativity and new ideas. No idea is too silly, try it… Everything cannot be centrally controlled, that is unrealistic. Do not have fears and anxieties about mistakes, Don’t put boundaries around how you will work .”
  • The RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group is one of the largest we’ve ever had, indicative of the great interest in this topic among the RLG Partnership. We have 21 RLG Partner staff from five countries, from a wide range of different institutions and staff with various functions.
  • Will now go through some of the highlights with you starting with website reviews.
  • Website reviews 6 to follow. Netherland Inst for Sound and Vision – Archive. Video tagging game – for videos and parts within.
  • “ In advance of an exhibition of Wedding Dresses in 2013 we are creating a database of photographs of clothes worn for weddings from all cultures between 1840 and the present. We include civil partnerships. This database will provide a rich record and help people date their own photographs.”
  • Washington State University. Members of the public who become registered users have the ability to make their own collections, add comments and add tags. Tribes can also upload their own materials to the portal, using the administrative side of the portal, allowing then to decide the level of access to their own private collections.
  • Users can indirectly add photos, tags, and comments to Kew's image collection through Kew’s two Flickr sites: Your Kew on Flickr , where users can share their photos of Kew Gardens and Wakehurst Place, and People's Arboretum on Flickr , where users are asked to upload photos of trees in Kew Gardens, Wakehurst Place, and around the world. Kew encourages users of their Flickr groups to add description to the images, and Kew states that contributions of images and description may be repurposed on the Kew Garden site. Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to engage a diverse audience, including families, plant lovers, art lovers, conservationists, and scientists.
  • The crowd-sourcing correction of OCR’d text is impressive. On any result set you can see which texts have been corrected and compare the corrected text with the original. Tagging. High usage.
  • Potential, tagging, commenting, uploading photos, forum. Impressive aggregation of content – open to public. Only 6 – a further 70 were reviewed….
  • LibraryThing – can join and catalogue your books easily. Use tags for loans/collections no circ. Or buy LibraryThing for Libraries. Make use of the 64 million tags in your catalogue, reviews, 2 million user uploaded cover art. 1600 libs are doing this so far.
  • Flickr. Normal account – often used for org publicity and new shots, or do something a bit different eg Oregan state uni has put archive photos on flickr map, PA collections public images in Flickr group, or Flickr Commons – aimed at large institutions to make more widely available public domain photos from collections. Increase exposure. E.g 500 photos from nlnz get 500,000 views in 2 years (1000 views per day) = same views as 100,000 images on their own site. Users can add their knowledge content and tool to draw around items in pic is useful.
  • Youtube. 1. Educate your users – screencasts/tutorials; 2. promote events and exhibitions; 3. promote collections, 4. post archival footage/clips. Can set up channels easily. Youtube allows blatant advertising and bias.
  • Facebook. Community building. Can link your applications to facebook.’like this’ popular feature. Get a ground swell of opinion. 1. Engage community with org, 2. Events, announcements, news 3. More novel ideas e.g. Getty Museum Illuminated manuscripts image game – name that saint and his instrument of martydom. US Archives Recovery Team – thefts and recovered items – your stuff has been stolen!!
  • Twitter. Brief snippets of infor- followers, re-tweet. 1. Events, announcements 2. Collections. 3. Creative ideas e.g. Scott Polar Research Institute posting diary of Captain Scott expedition – linked to full version on home page, CDL – John Muir handwritten letters.
  • Wikipedia – 1. Org page, 2. articles on topics – populate. Must be unbiased. Until recently libs and archives were not able to create article/collection pages and link to their websites. Now there is a guideline. Wikipedians want open access to be able to use images to illustrate articles e.g. DG NLA agreed for Wikipedians to be able to use any image in NLA collection for this purpose – example mutiny on the bounty. First image is National Maritime museum second is list of mutineers NLA. Wikipedian in residence – Liam Wyatt VP Wikimedia Aus and Smithsonian following suit.
  • Blogs – the usual, org, collections, daily life, books, but some are creative….e.g. University of Kentucky Archives have a large collection of old photos – many of them with mustached men. They put just the moustache photos onto a moustache blog and gave very amusing descriptions to them – had an instant following…
  • The site managers who responded to the survey come from seven countries. Responses from U.S. site managers represent the majority (60%). Eight responses came from Australia, four from the United Kingdom, two from New Zealand, and one each from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. Site types: Library, archive, museum, community, discipline
  • More than 70% had been offering social media features for two years or less. Four sites were not even public yet at the time of the survey. On the other hand, eight sites (19%) have been offering social media features for four years or more.
  • Building community is a key interest across all types. Academic libraries and archives tend to be more interested in increasing traffic to their sites, providing better access to their content, and enhancing description. They are less interested in acquiring additional content from other sources. National- and state-level institutions are more likely to seek additions to their collections. The other responses came from museums interested in inspiring visitors and getting them more involved with exhibits and museum activities. Measuring success was largely subjective. The top three data elements captured are comments (76%), unique visitors (67%), and visits (64%), which are relatively easy to measure. All thought their sites were successful even if they had not yet figured out how to measure quantity or quality.
  • We offered a list of nineteen social media and user contribution features and asked respondents to select the ones they offered, with an option to describe a feature not listed. The top three features used by the 39 site managers who responded were comments (85%), tagging (67%), and RSS feeds (54%). Frequency of RSS feeds may be because so many open source and off-the-shelf software packages offer it ‘out of the box.’ Annotations (37%), upload materials (31%), user profiles (28%), user-contributed images (26%), bookmarks (21%), reviews (21%) and ratings (21%) made up the midrange. At the bottom of the scale are collaborative filtering and synchronous chat at 3% . This may i ncrease in the near future as social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook drive this form of interaction deeper into the public’s toolkit.
  • Purple = 3 sites only over 1000 contributors per month. Australian Newspapers, Distributed Proofreaders, and WorldCat.org.
  • We were surprised that 72% (26/36) of the respondents were not concerned about the way the site’s content is used or repurposed. Perhaps the individuals in an organization who are most concerned with data privacy and security were not those who responded to the survey. Sites that focused on music content were among those who expressed concern about the way the content was shared. Sites where scholars share their original work also have some concern. No definitive answer on integrating metadata. 39% of respondents said that they incorporated metadata into their own descriptive processes. Therefore two-thirds did not, surprising since 60% of all respondents said that improving description was one of their key motivations for offering social media features. So it is just the search that is important?
  • The monitoring practices are apparently successful because the spam and abuse rate is low. Only two sites reported that spam represents a serious problem; nine reported spam as an “occasional problem.” Cultural heritage organizations seem to be unlikely spam targets. Only 36% of the respondents reported abusive user contributions, which happened a few times a year or less in over half of the cases. Only three sites—AcaWiki, Digital NZ Search, and WorldCat.org—reported abusive contributions as often as “a few times per week.” More than half of the respondents who reported abuse on their sites blocked future contributions after the first infraction. These results imply that abusive user behavior is sporadic and easily managed, which should be especially encouraging to resource-strapped cultural heritage institutions.
  • Questions about staffing were perhaps not as clear as they should have been. The survey went to different orgs and different professionals. This table shows staff roles for those managing site.
  • Most had to revise or implement new policies and guidelines. Only four of the 35 respondents (11%) said that they had not implemented any policies. The majority of sites (63%) were concerned with appropriate behavior. 57% of the sites retain the right to edit or remove content; almost all of them are sites that incorporate user content. 17 had policies that were extensions of existing institutional policies and 19 had created new ones as the result of situations arising from the site. LAMs are making efforts to maintain a safe environment for users (with particular attention to under-age users) by encouraging/enforcing acceptable community behavior and appropriate content; safeguard users' privacy; indemnify or otherwise protect the institution; and upholding professional ethics and laws, particularly in regard to providing equal access and protecting intellectual property rights.

Social metadata for libraries, archives and museums: Research findings from the RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group, October 2010 Social metadata for libraries, archives and museums: Research findings from the RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group, October 2010 Presentation Transcript