Monday, February 27, 2006

What Stephen Said

In this post, at the end, I mused that discussions in the biblioblogosphere about Lib2.0 hadn't focused much on the ramifications of a central concept for any of the 2.0 discussions (Web 2.0 and its relatives): that the original owners of services and institutions are not the only--and perhaps not the primary--designers and developers of new services. I gave only one example, that of LibraryThing.

Stephen Abram has written a long post, The Library 2.0 'Bandwagon', in which he suggests in what concrete ways Lib2.0 would be different from Lib1.0. If you're feeling woolly-headed about Lib2.0, read Stephen's take on it. What he said.
"The users are moving into the control position. Libraries are no longer able to drive the good bus 'library' alone."

I am pretty sure that when libraries' systems and services are more transparent and accessible to users, and so may be changed and added to by users, many wonderful things will flower.

One example: Ron Moody is the current chairperson of the Montana State Library Commission. He's new to the Commission and cheerfully admits he knows little about Libraryland. To begin his education, he attended the OFFLINE conference George, Pam Bailey, and I spoke at--kudos to him, for that. Saturday morning, in a break, Ron was chatting with George and me, and he told us he has a personal library of 3000 books. What if, he wondered, he used LibraryThing to catalogue his books and then was able to add his records to his public library's catalogue? Dead silence while George and Alane absorb this really cool idea. I mean, why not? Ron's tag clouds could be added to any existing bib record to enrich the "official" metadata. Wouldn't it be a fabulous way to make an OPAC a real reflection of a community? And I'd love to see WorldCat accommodate civilian-produced metadata. Then it really would be WORLDCat. Alane speaking as herself...the notion of this may cause cardiac arrest somewhere at OCLC. On the other hand, maybe it won't. After all, our Founder fretted, way back in 1977, "are we automating nineteenth–century librarianship?"

3 comments:

Tom Roper said...

Whst an extraordinary and wonderful idea. The weaknesses of OPACs and Librarything conquered at a stroke.

LibraryThing said...

I would LOVE to get data flowing between public libaries and LibraryThing. I've started conversations with library consortia and OPACs. I hope they go somewhere...

Eric said...

Alane, I found Stephen's post dead-on, but the idea of mingling non-professionally prepared content with professionally prepared content in any sphere merits instinctive caution and a closer look. User-contributed content can certainly potentially be a good thing (as in the case of amateur photos that only people close to the subject can annotate authoritatively), but users could also add a lot of noise to OPACs. If the Web has taught us anything, it's that noise can drown out signal. There's definitely a space for user-contributed content, and a conversational catalog, but free-falling metadata could as swiftly kill as save the OPAC...