Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.


ALA session attended: Harnessing the Hive, Social Networks and Libraries

This was a great session -- one of my favorites I attended this year at ALA. As I complained elsewhere, too many of my sessions were at the level of explaining "What is a blog/wiki/etc," when what I really wanted to see were some practical applications for all this stuff. These presentations had that in spades. It was so crowded that I couldn't get a seat where I could see the screen very clearly, so hopefully my notes don't suffer too badly for that.

Matthew Bejune, wikis in libraries study

Social networking sites are proliferating beyond count and and with a huge variety of applications

See Malene Charlotte Larsen: "25 Perspectives on Social Networking": some library applications from her 25 perspectives include group work, learning, collaboration

Wikis in libraries:

He collected examples of library wikis from: LIS literature search, Library Success Wiki, listserv messages from digiref, libref-l, webforlib

Found 35 wikis at the time of his survey, and estimates 50-100% more by now


  • collaboration between libraries, e.g. ALA wiki
  • within the same library/organization
  • between library staff and patrons, breaking the fourth wall
  • between patrons

First two categories of collaboration are most prevalent, accounting for 76% of the total. Bejune predicts that this schema for wikis will hold true for other forms of social networking as well.


Four Questions:

  • Where are examples of staff/patron collaboration, patron-patron collaboration?
  • How might we enable patrons to build and modify info? We are risk-averse and controlling as a profession.
  • How will libraries next use wikis and social networking?
  • When will your library use wikis?

His examples are published at http://librarywikis.pbwiki.com

Please post your examples there: the password is LWcontrib

Meredith Farkas, "Harnessing the Hive in Libraries"

Knowledge Management:

  • All organizations want to make the best use of institutional knowledge
  • all librarians have different areas of interest and expertise
  • our patrons have lots of knowledge that we could capitalize on
  • we are bad at sharing knowledge

How do we keep and share information?

  • one-on-one conversations
  • staff meetings
  • instant messaging, twitter
  • scraps of paper at the reference desk
  • e-mail
  • blogs: good for timely information, not as good for collecting and accessing later on
  • think about how we collect information for the long term

Collecting knowledge from our patrons:

  • Ann Arbor District Library: recommendations amazon-style by stripping identifying data
  • AADL also allows user tagging as supplement to LCSHs
  • Hennepin County public library's reader's advisory site, includes amazon-style reader's lists with user annotation - users doing reader's advisory
  • users can add comments to catalog records - worldcat also has this feature
  • RocWiki, Rochester guide to community. Restaurants, guides, public transportation... a library could create something like this
  • Biz Wiki: uses faculty expertise on business resources, and recommendations from students who discover good resources as they write their papers
  • PennTags at U Pennsylvania: users can tag catalog items, database results, web pages, and organize them into annotated bibliographies. Results are findable in catalog.

Collecting institutional knowledge:

Wikis as intranet

  • share procedures and policies
  • share basic info (printer is down, etc.)
  • Share knowledge about reference resources
  • Assignments students ask reference desk about
  • reference resources that require subject expertise
  • example: Antioch U, New England; documents procedures

It takes time, patience, persistence to build knowledge management behavior into organizations and daily workflow

presentation available at http://meredithfarkas.wetpaint.com

Tim Spalding, LibraryThing.com

"like myspace for books and book lovers," based on shared taste in books, not friendship

catalog the books you have or are reading and build connections and reading recommendations.

Uses catalog data, and user tags: "Social cataloging"

Soon to become the largest "library" catalog in the US.

Humans learn from direct experience, and from people who know more. Knowledge is a conversation. Conversations produce more than the sum of their members, in the interplay of ideas.

The card catalog is not a conversation; it is a tool to get you to the conversation.

LibraryThing is the catalog as conversation: users add to author page - photo, links, variations on name (sort of like an authority file).

ThingISBN (like OCLC's xISBN), takes an ISBN and returns related ISBNs (editions, etc). This is the result of non-specialists doing the work of catalog librarians.

User tags include preferred terms ("cooking" not LCSH "cookery"), and terms that can't be gotten to in LCSH ("chick lit" "cyberpunk") -- the argument is that the users' tags are giving perspectives on books' subject matter that LCSH can't.

Less accurate or popular tags, or inaccurate ones, tend to wash out statistically, but only in greatly-tagged books (see Diary of Anne Frank, which is tagged "inbelgium," apparently for the user's books that are physically in Belgium) [Note: Tim mentioned this in his talk, but I can't find it Edit: Fixed]

LCSH has a hierarchy available that is not easy to achieve in tags

Tags can be ambiguous: "leather" refers to leather-bound books, books on leatherworking, and books on S&M - it takes a lot of tags to disambiguate works algorithmically

LibraryThing is opening its data to libraries (see Danbury Library OPAC). Libraries like PennTags could also pool their own tag data to achieve similar results

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  1. Hey, hope you don’t mind me chiming in. The tag was “inbelgium.” Actually, looking closely at that tag, it’s clear from the other occurances, that the guy has books literally “in belgium.” But you can see how “wrong” tags can creep in…

  2. Thanks, Tim! I’ll update that.