Participation and Power: Combining Community Features with Existing metadata in NextGen Public Interfaces

Participation and Power: Combining Community Features with Existing metadata in NextGen Public Interfaces

Dinah Sanders, Innovative Interface

Kelly M. Vickery, University of Kentucky

Instead of just talking about encore, Dinah will discuss how metadata is exposed for patrons to leverage, how is it extended to cover gaps in controlled vocabulary. The majority of Americans use the interwebs everyday. This means they are coming in with savvy web skills and we can leverage metadata to give them tools that are powerful and that users recognize. They are trying to bring these patron skills together with the library strengths of good metadata. However, there are limits, particularly as was mentioned in the opening session “cookery” is not a common term. Encore tries to bring together the formal controlled vocabulary and folksonomies to rectify these problems. Searching can be done across library metadata and user-supplied tags.

Early attempts at this like penntags, sopac, library thing for libraries – exposed key problems:

  • Have to use parallel interfaces for tags (they aren’t intermixed with library data)
  • Tags are stored and searched separately
  • The participation then is really not IN the library catalog

These initiatives forged new ground but still retained separate systems

Community tagging success comes from:

  • Eliminate hurdle to participation (like creating a profile)
  • Create credibility and local relevance (require authentication with an existing profile)
  • Give an immediate return on investment (immediate indexing)

There was apprehension about letting users in, that they would add irrelevant data. Since implemented in June no tags have been deleted. Staff also add tags. Tags and subject headings are used in display and retrieval interfaces together.

Existing ontologies are under-rated, subject headings aren’t perfect, but there is really good information there that can be useful if it is presented properly. For example, relying on recognition (Or’d results) to give them a way to use the subject headings. The results has links to many ways to broaden results.

In addition to using user tags to enhance metadata, it can also point out areas that traditional cataloging wouldn’t get to. Sun Also Rises has a user tag for “lost generation.”

A tour of the user experience for community tagging in Encore:

  • A search for drm, shows that the other subjects are “intellectual property” “rights management” etc. The results also show which part of the record matched the term, so you can see if the hit was from the title, subject, or tag.
  • Adding a tag is a simple text box. Simple authentication is needed when a tag is added based on an existing profile id. Users can also delete their own tags.
  • Administrators can delete tag, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. There are other administrative tools to allow you to blanket approve a tag (“University of Illinois” would probably never be offensive and would not need to be reviewed). You can whitelist just for a particular book too (so “gay” might be relevant to a book about gender studies, so you wouldn’t want to continually review it, although it might be offensive in other records). You can block an individual from tagging as well.

Encore was built in rapid iterative development with many partners. The customer base (a large part of it) has been working with encore on the development to ensure that it is useful. Encore can plan their development cycle around library planning cycles.

Kelly from UK speaks about integrating encore with Voyager. UK had been considering adopting a discovery layer, but couldn’t find the right product. AquaBrowser wasn’t right, Endeca required too much work. They attempted to adopt Primo but it didn’t work out. Went with encore. Since Encore had been developed with Millenium, adapting it to Voyager required some work. Discussions began January 07, a test interface was ready by May. By September, they were ready to begin nightly updating encore with changes that had been made to voyager and it was offered as an alternative search interface. By December it was integrated with the regular OPAC, but is the default. There were some particular issues with the relevance of serials in results list (they tended to be really low). This was worked out and works well now. Through 2008 development on encore 2.0 has continued and was officially upgraded last month. A few issues are still being worked out with 2.0 though.

The integration they chose (to have both simultaneously, but default to encore) works well for them. Navigation between the two is easy (tabular). Give the power users the option to continue to use voyager. Data from voyager to encore:

  • Marc/serial holdings
  • Item info
  • Item circ.
  • Location/collection
  • Patron records

The nightly update is no good for circ though, so that info is not in encore. There are solutions to this, but they were too difficult to implement. They are still working on integrating LDAP into encore for authentication. Encore sends back to the ILS:

  • Request an item
  • Find out more
  • Advanced search
  • Circ. stats

1 out of 3 use Encore. It has not been promoted very much yet, but this number is encouraging to UK. Undergrads tend to use encore, but faculty tend to switch back to voyager. This seems pretty believable. They have gotten some negative comments, but only a few. The return visitor rate is about 45%. Voyager has a return rate of about 60%.

Tags in the academic environment might be really useful for journals. The subject headings for journals tend to be very general. UK hopes that users will tag journals to make them more useful. Another area that might be very useful is tagging for specific courses. This would also allow the professor to update these continually. The course reserve list could be indicated through tags. Students of course could tag things for courses as well. A third is animal names. Subjects tend to use scientific names – equine, bovine, etc. tags can add horse and cow.

Tagging might start to eliminate the problem where users need to create many separate bibliographies for their discipline (A/V, women’s studies etc.) – and some of these are even made into a shadow database. If the catalog gives groups the ability to dynamically create and resort their own lists, they could do it through the catalog. This would be even better because it could be updates as the catalog is updated.

Dinah closes the session with examples of public library tagging. Fan or community groups tag using their own terms, use informal vocabulary and disambiguation, emerging vocabularies – all of these are represented. Emerging vocabularies is also a good point for academic libraries, disciplines are often evolving before they are made into subject headings. Some of the users are adding very library-centric things like isbns and “young adult fiction.” Tags enable “iterative “berry picking”” approaches since they don’t have to start over and do sophisticated pre-coordinated searches.

U. Glasgow found that only 4% of users did a subject search in the old catalog – the terminology was confusing. Now however, 66% of users use the tag cloud.

To close Dinah notes that not only the materials, but also your community’s conversations are collected. And in an age of increasing digitization, it is the local voice which distinguishes one library from another.

Questions discussed other search suggestion features of Encore (“Did you mean”), catalogers use of the tags (when appropriate), the database for tags (keyed to record id. The tag database stays in Encore, does not go back to Encore. If a new ILS is switched to, encore could map the old bib number to the new); Encore is linked back to from Encore when other ILS functions (like request, etc) are needed. Tags are associated with patrons forever, even if the patron record goes away, however no one has expressed any privacy concerns because it’s completely opt-in. Tags for courses could be problem in this way – if course curriculum changes, things would need to be untagged. Encore provides administrative tools for that, but it happens at the administrative level. At this time, users cannot batch add tags.