Buzz buzz buzz

RUSA MAR–Chair’s Program

Harnessing the Hive: Social Networks and Libraries

Sunday, 6/24 10:30 am-12:00 pm Convention Center Room 144 A-C

A standing room only crowd (300+) greeted what was definitely a hot topic (ubiquitous, too :D). The meeting included the RUSA MARS business meeting, which was brief. The Rethinking Reference preconference was sold out, and will be offered again next June. MARS is offering virtual poster sessions via their web site. I tried to find it. The announcement is here: I hope I can find the actual posters some time.

Matthew M. Bejune from Purdue started the program. mbejune@purdue.edu He started with examples of social networking, some very well known (MySpace, Blogger, LiveJournal, AIM), to newer, less well-known such as couch surfing, webkinz (for children). Malene Charlotte Larsen has posted on 25 Perspectives on Social Networking. She has since added another ten perspectives.

Doing research last fall, Matthew found 35 library wikis.. He categorized them in four types:

  1. Collaboration between libraries–45% of total
  2. Collaboration between library staff–31%
  3. Collaboration between staff and patrons–14%
  4. Collaboration between library patrons–8%

Most of the “comfort zone” is with the first two categories. Gave examples: St. Joseph County Subject Guides. Librarian created.,; can update quickly and easily. OCLC Worldcat wiki–people can add reviews, cover art, comments, etc. and relate these to bibliographic records. Matthew’s research will be published in Information Technology and Libraries, Sept. 2007. Companion wiki to article. Members of the library community are invited to contribute to by editing or creating new pages. Instructions are on the page.

Meredith Farkas, maintains Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki and her presentation can be accessed on her presentation wiki.

Meredith’s current area of concern is with knowledge management. All organizations want to make the best use of institutional knowledge. All librarians have different areas of expertise. Customers have a lot of knowledge. Information is shared via one-to-one conversations staff meetings, IM, Twitter, email, scraps of paper on the reference desk, blogs–Last In First Out. All of this is not very searchable Different libraries trying different things. Ann Arbor is doing “customers who borrowed…” You need very broad base of data for user-generated tags.

Examples: Ann Arbor District Library Website

Hennepin County Public Library’s Bookspace Readers can create lists, annotate, and comment.

Roc Wiki Non-library–community gathering data to support access for community

Ohio University Biz Wiki. Provides structure and searchability

PennTags. Let’s users create content

Wikis can also serve as an intranet–to share policies and procedures, basic info, knowledge about reference resources. Info for work study students, volunteers.

Antioch University New England Library Staff Training and Support Wiki

It takes time to build knowledge management behavior into an organizational workflow–a wiki is not at instant fix. Patience and persistence are necessary.

Break to switch from PC to Mac…second time in two programs where this was an issue. I guess we need to find and tap MacBooks that can run Windows to avoid these problems in the future…

Tim Spalding from LibraryThing–talk about ubiquitous! See http://www.librarything.com/thingology/ Started with a quote from Michael Gorman on the Britannica Blog on “Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason”: “Human beings learn, essentially, in only two ways. They learn from experience—the oldest and earliest type of learning—and they learn from people who know more than they do.” Spalding felt this was a false construct–that people learn from conversations, as equals. “The education of scholar is an ascent through this conversation. We start with encyclopedias and straightforward books of facts—books that talk at us; certain books. We move to monographs, which seem at first like books of facts, but which we soon learn are really “arguments.” We learn to write papers that are arguments too—”Don’t just say what you know, have a thesis!” At some point we discover academic journals, and our eyes are opened to just how complex and contentious and uncertain this certain thing is. And, if we go on long enough, we graduate to conferences, and we learn that knowledge is an actual conversation, usually with alcohol.”

LibraryThing users have tagged 50 million catalog records–a form of social cataloging. The tags represent shared tastes and interests. Knowledge is a conversation. “Conversations work because, at their best, they know more and produce more than their members. They work because the knowledge is in the conversation. It happens in the very interplay of ideas—asserting, contesting, extending, simplifying and complexifying the dizzying whirl of fact and opinion, creative and synthetic, smart and dumb, right and wrong, from this angle and that. Literature works like this too, but can be even more meaningless without “conversational” context—genre, alusion and immitation and so forth. So, quiet or not, the library is a buzzing cocktail party—better and better the more people are there and the more they interact. It is already “hive” this session promises. It is, in point of fact, very much like the web.”

Library catalogs are like encyclopedias–general starting points. They bring titles together (can you spell concatenation?). LibraryThing brings together genres and identity groups not covered by LCSH. Even when a new subject heading is added, such as “chick lit”, no cataloguer goes back and applies it to existing records–it is only applied to materials that come out after the heading is accepted. LibraryThing users do apply new tags to previously existing records, so Jane Austen works will be listed under “chick lit” in LibraryThing. LibraryThingbrings together editions–FRBRizing records.

Some uses are outside authority files—in LibraryThing, there are differences between titles tagged GLBT and LGBT. Synonyms can be different. There are 5,000 tags associated with The Diary of a Young Girl. None are anti-semitic. When data has a large mass, errors wash out, become insignificant. Tags are not hierarchical. Flickr uses algorithms to create clusters. LibraryThing now allows customers to mash tags–France, WWII, minus fiction. Danbury Public is using LibraryThing on their Innovative web catalog. I will cover this more in my notes on the session on the LITA Blog and Wiki Interest Group, Sat., 6/23, 1:30-3:00.

I only stayed for the beginning of the Q&A.