LIS 703 Fall 2007 Making Library Catalogs Usable Again!
Do You Wish Your Library Catalog Was User-friendly? <ul><li>Proper Search Strings? </li></ul><ul><li>Correct Searching Techniques? </li></ul><ul><li>LC Subject Headings? </li></ul>Tired of long hours trying to understand & explain
Are Your Patrons Getting Frustrated Trying to Locate Items in the Library Catalog? Do you overhear them asking, “What are subject headings anyway? And what good are they if I can’t FIND anything?!?!?”
How About a Change? That’s right! Searching for items doesn’t have to be such a painful experience anymore for your patrons! Simply add to your OPAC, and watch as ‘ Searching’ turns into ‘Finding’ !
But, Wait! There’s MORE! <ul><li> Give your patrons exciting new content, including recommendations and tag clouds. </li></ul><ul><li> Let your patrons take part, with reviews, ratings and tags. Keep the control you want. </li></ul><ul><li> Enhance your catalog with just a few lines of HTML. Works with any OPAC and requires no back-end integration. Really. </li></ul><ul><li>Draw on the collective intelligence of your patrons and LibraryThing members. </li></ul>
Still Not Convinced? Want to know more? Don’t understand what the big deal is about having an OPAC that is user-friendly? Stay Tuned! Right after the commercial break, there’ll be a question and answer session.
Commercial Break <ul><li>Commercial Break </li></ul>Click on ‘Commercial Break’ to listen
Welcome Back! <ul><li>Here’s some questions from the studio audience: </li></ul><ul><li>What’s this ‘LibraryThing for Libraries’ all about? Is it a new cataloging system, or what? Will it really make our patrons happy? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we going to have to do a bunch of re-cataloging of items? What happens if ‘traditional’ cataloging is replaced by the ‘new generation’ cataloging? </li></ul><ul><li>Where in the world did this ‘LibraryThing for Libraries’ come from, anyway? </li></ul>
<ul><li>What’s this ‘LibraryThing for Libraries’ all about? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it a new cataloging system, or what? </li></ul><ul><li>Will it really make our patrons happy? </li></ul>Simply put, LibraryThing for Libraries is a group of ‘widgets’ (java-script applications) that libraries can add to their already existing OPACs; it is not a new cataloging system. And, yes, Virginia, it will make your patrons happy. LibraryThing for Libraries is user-friendly, and user-interactive too!
Seriously, what are these ‘widgets’? Currently, there are 3 ‘widgets’: <ul><li>Book recommendations: Shows high-quality "recommended" or "similar" books. </li></ul><ul><li>Tag browsing: Gives your patrons the power and flexibility of searching and browsing books by tags. </li></ul><ul><li>Other editions & translations: Links related editions and translations of the same work. "FRBR"-izes the catalog with a few lines of HTML. </li></ul>Other widgets are being developed even as we speak! Look for User Generated Tagging, User Reviews, and User Ratings soon!
What About Current Cataloging Practices? <ul><li>Are we going to have to do a bunch of re-cataloging of items? </li></ul><ul><li>What happens if ‘traditional’ cataloging is replaced by the ‘new generation’ cataloging? </li></ul>Both traditional ( e.g. AACR2/MARC) and new generation ( e.g. FRBR/Dublin Core) cataloging work with LibraryThing for Libraries just fine. There doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul of the library catalog, at least for this application, because LibraryThing for Libraries is only an overlay- - it works with what is already there .
Where in the world did this ‘LibraryThing for Libraries’ come from, anyway? LibraryThing for Libraries is an offshoot from the online site, LibraryThing, which bills itself as a “service to help people catalog their books easily.” LibraryThing was started in August, 2005, by Tim Spaulding, a freelance web developer and web designer. In June of 2006, Abebooks bought a 40% share of LibraryThing. (Read about it here) Tim Spaulding As of December, 2007, there are over 323,595 members.
Now, just wait a cotton-picking minute, here. Only REAL Librarians or people trained in cataloging know how to properly catalog books! And, how do I know if those cataloging records are right? I’ve seen some of the library’s, and they need help! The users aren’t just making up catalog entries, willy-nilly. Here’s how LibraryThing explains it: LibraryThing is a full-powered cataloging application, searching the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and more than 80 world libraries. You can edit your information, search and sort it, "tag" books with your own subjects, or use the Library of Congress and Dewey systems to organize your collection.
Okay, the basic concept is good- but how does LibraryThing for Libraries even know what books are in the library catalog? After you set up an account, you have to export a file with all the ISBN’s of the books in the library. It can be done in any format, as long as the ISBN’s are in it. Once your file is uploaded, you are instructed on how to install and run the ‘widgets’ in your catalog. If you don’t want some items to be displayed with all the bells and whistles, you have the option to leave their ISBN’s out of the file. They will then be displayed in the ‘regular’ manner of your OPAC. After that, the catalog will connect to the LibraryThing’s servers, and all of the great features will be available!
That still doesn’t explain where the ‘cool features’ come from… All of the tags, ratings, reviews and recommendations come from LibraryThing.com, a book cataloging website. Over 260,000 LibraryThing members have added more than 23 million tags, 245 thousand reviews, and 2.8 million ratings to over 18 million books- - and will all be available to your patrons !
I’d like to see this in action-how does a catalog look with and without the LibraryThing for Libraries application? <ul><li>First we’ll take a look at a catalog that does not use LibraryThing for Libraries: the Pioneerland Catalog . </li></ul><ul><li>Then, we’ll take a look at a catalog that does use LibraryThing for Libraries: the Danbury, CT Catalog (they were the first library to use LibraryThing for Libraries: they went live in May, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, we’ll also look at the LibraryThing page for the item. </li></ul><ul><li>For all 3, we’ll look at the same item: The Daughter of Time , by Josephine Tey. </li></ul>
Other Libraries That Use Tagging Of course, there are other libraries that use tagging, but do not use LibraryThing for Libraries. Again,using The Daughter of Time , by Josephine Tey, here are some examples : The Queens Library in New York, using AquaBrowser : here The Wadsworth Library in Ohio, using Encore : here The Elkhart Library in Indiana, using Dynix : here While each has some of the features of LibraryThing for Libraries, none have all. In fact, some of their features are hard to find on the page, or difficult to use easily.
So, let me see if I have this right: LibraryThing for Libraries is NOT a new and improved cataloging system for libraries…but it can enhance current cataloging practices and existing OPAC’s? Exactly! LibraryThing for Libraries is a tool that can help patrons find what they want because the tags are selected by the users (but monitored by the site); yet the solid cataloging foundation is still there . Even if there are multiple formats for one work, LibraryThing for Libraries collocates them for ease of access through links from record to record.
Any Drawbacks? Specifically, what about the books that don’t have a tag cloud attached to their records, or aren’t high demand items? Even if the book doesn’t have a tag cloud, it can still be found using a ‘normal’ search- - remember, LibraryThing for Libraries is only an overlay. It does not replace the existing cataloging structure. What about tag redundancy? It seems like some of the tags are addressing the same facet of the work, but aren’t combined. The flexibility of not having to be exact in a search is one of the benefits to this program. The tags are larger in size when many people choose to use them, and if you were to click on them, the variations appear. That helps to keep the redundancies down to a minimum.
Want to Know More? You can take a FREE tour of LibraryThing for Libraries here ! ABSOLUTELY FREE! No pressure to buy anything!
And Now, Some Testimonials [LTFL lets you add to your catalog] "A Tag Cloud, which can do wonders to supplement our often obscure subject headings ." - - LibrarySupportStaff.org "What I believe I enjoy most about LibraryThing is the FRBR-ization; seeing all the different covers and editions collocated in one place .“ - - Horseless Library "I've seen the future of online catalogs , and its name is LibraryThing." - - Steve Cohen, Public Libraries magazine (March/April 2006) "the most hands-on & user-friendly online catalog I've ever seen." - - The Graphic Librarian "a mix of good, reliable, professionally developed metadata , lots of options for user input and customization, and numerous ways to connect with other people who enjoy the books and authors you enjoy." - - Tom Peters, Smart Libraries Newsletter
For librarians, it may be the thrill of the hunt, but for patrons, it’s the ease of finding! Making Library Catalogs Usable Again In no time at all, your patrons will be singing the praises of your OPAC!
Further Reading Spiteri, L. The use of collaborative tagging in public library catalogs . Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/ala/lita/litamembership/litaigs/authorityalcts/Spiteri-AN2006.ppt Library of Congress. Report on the Future of Bibliographic Control . Retrieved from: http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/news/lcwg-report-draft-11-30-07-final.pdf Smith, T. (2007). Cataloging and You: Measuring the Efficacy of a Folksonomy for Subject Analysis . Retrieved from http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/2061/01/Smith%5FUpdated.doc
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