The article Tags Help Make Libraries Del.icio.us
in the online version of Library Journal
describes how more and more libraries are turning to social bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us to organize information about recommended resources and replace the traditional subject guide.
On del.icio.us, users can create an account to save bookmarks and assign subject tags to them. Those tags can then be made available to the public:
"Libraries like the Thunder Bay Public Library, Ont., and the Nashville Public Library have del.icio.us tag clouds rolled on their web site, so patrons can find information on any number of topics just by clicking on a tag. Other libraries like the College of New Jersey Library and University of Alberta Libraries experiment with del.icio.us link rolls to replace or supplement traditional subject guides and pathfinders".
"But why is using social bookmarking tools better than traditional pathfinders and subject guides? It lowers barriers for participation, both for library patrons and staff. Tasha Saecker, director of the Menasha Public Library, WI, notes that del.icio.us helps 'less tech-savvy librarians have an equal voice in the collection,' instead of having one or two librarians editing a static web page".
"While library catalogs and databases rely on controlled vocabularies and traditional subject guides, and pathfinders often address only broad categories, tags allow library staff to assign worthy links multiple tags in what Staley [information technology department head at the Lansing Public Library in Michigan] calls 'plain language'."
"Tagging is often controversial among librarians, largely because adding keywords to resources lacks authority control. But libraries employing del.icio.us and other social tools can use the lack of controlled vocabulary to their advantage".
According to the article, some libraries have been addressing the authority control issue by bundling tags according to the Dewey classification. And in the case of the Sorbonne, in Paris, tags are grouped together by time period, discipline, format, country, and language, thus combining the traditional and the web 2.0 worlds to provide access to professionally evaluated, high quality electronic material.
On July 9, 2007, I published a post entitled MIT Updates Virtual Reference Pages Using Social Bookmarking
that explained how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses del.icio.us to keep its virtual reference site up-to-date.
Labels: general reference, libraries, web 2.0