Alexis M Waide

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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Belated

By the way, you are reading the words of the newly elected President of Pitt’s Student Chapter of the ALA!  I’m excited to hold office; I promise not to get embroiled in some kind of nefarious activities, like the Teapot Dome Scandal or Andrew Jackson’s marriage to a bigamist (gasp!).  I do have some goals for my presidency (ahem) and none of them include scandal.  Mostly they include things like improving our connection with faculty and the ALA, trying to have a couple of networking opportunities, getting things members want done in a timely fashion.  Quality volunteer and community outreach efforts instead of just more projects – I want us to really be involved with the projects we have instead of just having a bunch of projects that people go at half-heartedly.  I’m excited for the rest of the year!

Folksonomies in the library catalog

I mentioned an article/study I read for my paper that talked about Brunel University in England integrating a form of tagging into its library catalog.  This is the information for the article.  I can’t get the DOI link to come up but hopefully this is enough information for those of you who were interested in reading it.

For a paper in my Understanding Information class last semester, I read a study on a British university that integrated a prototype tagging/folksonomy system into their catalog.  I found it interesting since it wasn’t just a theoretical discussion of the possibilities of tagging, like so many other articles I read while doing research for the investigative report.

The study brought together a panel of five students and one library expert together to discuss what kinds of things they’d like to see in a folksonomy present in a library catalog and then, gasp! actually put those things into practice, albeit in a prototype form.  Things like tag clouds (of course, nothing so pretty as that one), color-coded tagging for different user groups (i.e. undergraduates, graduates, staff), and the ability to click on a tag and see all books with that tag were all put into play with the controlled language and categories in the library catalog.  And what did they find?  It was a hit!  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but it was pretty successful.

Overall, I think it highlights the potential for tagging to improve user experience within the library.  There’s always the question of “rogue” tagging, someone applying tags that make no sense, either on purpose or out of lack of knowledge.  However, it seems that user-applied tags within the catalog system seems like it would do more good than harm.  As I’m learning in my program, the goal of libraries is really to serve the user and those users are able to apply their own terms to items, they might get more use out of the library.

(From an article by Svein Anfinnsen, Gheorghita Ghinea, Sergio de Cesare, “Web 2.0 and folksonomies in a library context”, International Journal of Information Management, Volume 31, Issue 1, February 2011, Pages 63-70, ISSN 0268-4012, 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2010.05.006.)

(anti) SOPA and PIPA, for the win!

I thought these graphics from Fight for the Future are really interesting and inspiring.  Nice to know that efforts had some effect!  Let’s hope we can keep up the momentum or find some alternative to SOPA and PIPA.

Regulated vs. unregulated acts of ownership

I’ve been thinking about how it’s strange that something like Open Access had to come about to make digital information sources more widely available, and yet no similar idea or concept exists within the printed “analog” sources of information.  I jokingly said something during a class discussion that it’s too bad you can’t just go into a bookstore, grab a book off the shelf and walk out without paying.  Just say “Open Access!” when they ask you to pay.  Of course, we can’t do this because, as my professor for the class Understanding Information said, we never “own” e-sources in a physical way – even if you buy an e-book, it’s never actually “there.”

All this reminded me of an article by Lawrence Lessig about Open Source and Open Access.  I had to go back and find the article because something he said struck me as particularly interesting:

…reading a book in analog space may be an unregulated act. But reading an e-book is a licensed act, because reading an e-book produces a copy… Selling a book in analog space is an unregulated act. Selling an e-book is not. In all these cases, and many more, ordinary uses that were once beyond the reach of the law now plainly fall within the scope of copyright regulation. The default in the analog world was freedom; the default in the digital world is regulation.

(“The people own ideas! New technologies are forcing us to make important choices about how we use books, music, software, and other cultural products. Do we want them to be free–or not?” by Lawrence Lessig from the June 2005 issue of Technology Review)

At first, this concept seemed really backwards to me.  Not that digital works are regulated, but that analog works are not.  Of course selling a book is regulated; as I pointed out already, you can’t just walk into a bookstore and walk out with a book without paying!  But what Lessig means by regulated and unregulated is that most uses of analog books create no copies, whereas by their very nature, digital books always do.  And those digital copies can be taken away more easily than physical print copies.  Are we trading freedom of action and ownership for portability and convenience?

Why librarians are (still) necessary

I came across this quote today while perusing various library job listservs and RSS Feeds and really like it:

“The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”

Seth Godin, The Future of the Library, May 2011

 

I came across it in a bulletin from the Mid-Hudson Library System but it originally came from Seth Godin’s blog.  He’s written several best-selling books on marketing, leadership and change.  I came across them a lot when I worked in a bookstore but was never particularly interested; perhaps I’ll have to read some in my new life as a librarian.

 

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