Sunday, April 03, 2005

Being Relevant

I just hopped onto Amazon to have a look and see if an old book was available (it is), and if I could "look inside" at the index (I could). There on the first page I saw were items honoring Pope John Paul II titled In Memoriam: The Millennium Pope. The Pope died only about 24 hours ago and yet Amazon has already gathered together a series of links to books by him, books about the pope and his papacy, about papal elections, the Roman Catholic Church, and to nine DVDs. The list of books by the Pope had been viewed over 5000 times.

Golly, I wonder if the Amazon staff had to work outside of their regularly scheduled hours?

How many libraries have done something similar already? Any? Not likely. And unfortunately, topical lists of content available to libraries' communities are always outside of the discovery and delivery systems that would connect interested people to that relevant content.



Anonymous said...

Because it doesn't make us money, just makes us work. Plus it's so easy people should know how to do it. Keyword pope.

Bill Drew said...

I take umbrage with this posting. I just did a subject search on our catalog for Pope John Paul II. We have two books buy him as well as a record pointing to the Catholic Encyclopedia on Netlibrary. Not hard to do at all.

Ross said...

Would aggregating a handful of resources for our users really be that hard?

I think this "they can find it themselves" attitude is something we have to get over. At the very least give the user some starting points or some canned queries into resources to help them find more on this topic.

I think what is really needed here are some simple tools to help the librarian pool these things quickly and topically.

Being customer oriented won't kill us.

Alane said...

Bill and anonymous: sorry, it's not easy to do. I didn't have to do any kind of search at Amazon to see the lists. I doubt many novices would be able to do a successful subject search for a person in an OPAC. And a keyword search for "pope" in an OPAC would get what? A ton o' stuff, most of it not relevant to this particular Pope.
My point was that I didn't have to search. And my other point was that Amazon appears to be more interested in service than libraries. Libraries don't have to make money but I wonder why this translates into not doing things?

Ted said...

Another thought ... libraries own limited quantities of books. Nowadays, (except for best sellers), libraries will buy one copy per branch, if even that. A book in a display takes it off the shelf (hence, not in call number order and not findable), and placing it in a display may imply to the viewing public that the item is not circulable. At Amazon, the implication is just the opposite - if the book is on display there are many more of that title to choose from.

Although we as a profession seem to like to compare ourselves with Amazon, let's not forget that we're in a different business, with different clienteles, and different economic exigencies govern what we can do.

Anonymous said...

Had you checked the archives of Fiction-L (a well-known readers advisory resource freely available to all online, not just to librarians) before posting your ignorant and highly inflammatory message, you would have discovered that NUMEROUS librarians were collaborating on displays and booklists even BEFORE the pope died... as early as March 15. I would have expected better of an OCLC employee.

Anonymous said...

It pretty much covers FREE Marketing related stuff.