Tag Archives: social discovery tools

Discover! Library Catalogues and RA Services

This morning, I gave a presentation in our library to new readers’ advisors. While my topic was short compared to the rest of the RA training for the day (but maybe this will change down the road!), I thought I’d share my presentation with all of you.

Unlike in past years, this year I focused on our new catalogue – AquaBrowser, which we are calling “Discover“. With the launch of our new catalogue looming in the near future, I felt it important to show the possibilities these new catalogues hold for RAs and Readers’ Services. With only a half hour to present, I had to fit a lot of content in – and leave out a lot too. If I could have presented everything on my wishlist, I would have addressed the following:

1. Theory behind using the catalogue and its benefits
2. Future directions with using the catalogue – especially with the direction next generation catalogues are heading and the integration of tools like NoveList Select.
3. How to use the catalogue today as an RA tool and the benefits of collaboration.
4 A hands on exercise for staff to attempt to use the catalogue in an RA conversation or to add RA content into the catalogue.

Alas, I only had time to present on number 3 – and only in the most superficial capacity. However, as always, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to present and to expose staff every year to the possibilities of the library catalogue – beyond that of the traditional, static inventory model that focuses on Boolean searching.


Filed under Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

AquaBrowser Launches in Eastern Canada

Yesterday, Halifax Public Libraries launched their new discovery tool, AquaBrowser! While still in beta, we’re inviting feedback and I wanted to invite all of you to have a look at our new catalogue – and to provide your input. You can do this through the feedback button at the top of the catalogue, or by posting your thoughts right here!

We’ve been working on this installation for a year – and we’re very happy with the results.


Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

Reading: Library Catalogs and Other Discovery Tools

Some of you may already be aware of OLA’s quarterly publication that was put out last Spring. But, I just ran across this Oregon Library Association’s issue devoted entirely to library catalogues and discovery tools.

In addition to an introduction by John Repplinger, Perspective on Catalogs, the following contributions are included in this publication:

The Evolution of Library Discovery Systems in the Web Environment by Mark Dahl

The Library Catalog as Experimental Sandboz by Tom Larsen

Reflections from Menucha by Stephanie Michel

LibraryFind: The Development of a Shared Library Platform at Oregon State University Libraries by Terry Reese

The New Summit: Building the Foundation for Enhanced User Services by Al Cornish

Building Catalogs in the Sand by Wade Guidry

Legacy Metadata and the New Catalog by Richard Sapon-White

Northwest Digital Archives: Evolution Access to Archives and Special Collections in the Northwest by Jodi Allison-Bunnell

A Usability Survey of Keyword Searching Using a University Library’s Catalog by Elizsabeth Ramsey

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Filed under Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

Today is the day: Audio Conference Countdown

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m wearing green in honour of the Irish, and hoping a wee bit of the luck rubs off on me.

This afternoon is my Audio Conference: Social Catalogues and Readers’ Advisory Services: Building trust, promoting community and enhancing RA services outside the physical library.

I’m excited.  In the process of preparing, I really found myself in a position of asking questions, anticipating concerns from attendees and trying to make my ideas clear.  Unlike a webinar, attendees may or may not have access to my slides, so the challenge is to make my ideas clear, to include my energy and excitement on the topic, and not bog the entire presentation down in details. 

Ideas and concepts + exploration + collaboration = what I hope to be, a successful audio conference.

For those of you attending, I would very much like to hear your feedback – during or after the conference by email or phone.

For those of you interested in attending but haven’t signed up yet – it isn’t too late.  You can visit the Education Institute (Canada) to sign up, or the Neal-Schuman Professional Education Network (USA).

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Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

Social Tagging in the Catalogue: You allow that?!

If you’ve been reading the latest American Libraries Direct, you’ve seen the article about the “hate speech” tag that has been assigned to a significant amount of works by Ann Coulter at Mount Prospect Public Library.

A patron, scrolling through a list of books by Ms. Coulter, discovered the books and complained:

“I don’t understand why the library is letting people make political statements on their site,” said Alaimo, a political conservative. “By not taking it off, the library is agreeing with it.”

Fortunately, as the article goes on to state, the library officials disagree with Mike Alaimo, the library patron who made the complaint.  Unfortunately, many other library officials reading this are nodding their heads in affirmation that it was only a matter of time a patron complained – after all, how can we “control” our catalogue and what goes in it if we allow users to generate their own tags and contribute to our catalogues. 

This is a heated discussion that often comes across AUTOCAT, with the most recent occurring over Sarah Palin’s new book and the tags “I can see Russia” and, if memory serves, “Sea of Pee”.

I’ve had a look at Mount Prospect’s catalogue and records.  Mount Prospect Public Library is using the discovery layer AquaBrowser. I am very familiar with this product because our library is just finishing the AB implementation process.  AB uses LibraryThing tags to populate the user tags in bib records.  This is a perk, because many libraries don’t have the population or patron usage to make tagging successful without an underlying foundation.

However, as tags are added by users, just like in LibraryThing, they are weighted by the amount of times they are used.  Absurd, ridiculous or inaccurate tags as considered by the general user (or us) will become buried as more and more users tag with similar or “better” tags.  In the end, those tags that aren’t useful will fall to the very bottom of the retrieval list as newer, more useful tags are added or reaffirmed.  This system only fails when there are very few tags, or the library makes the decision to display all tags associated with an item, rather than the top 5 – 10 – 15, and so on.  Is there a need to display more than 10 or 15 terms?  Usually, those terms in the top 10 are the most useful and most frequently used. 

AB also has an option for a “black list” that allows a library to build an index of terms that are not allowed.  There is an existing, standard list by many libraries using AB and each individual library can build upon or remove from that list as needed or desired.  As a result, socially unacceptable terms (as determined by each library) are barred from appearing in user tags and reviews.  However, tags that reflect public opinion, emotions, ideas or views should not.  After all, these are user tags, not access points created by the library – by professionals.  And, despite many professionals’ concerns, user tags are not inserted into our records, they merely sit “on top” like another layer of icing on cake.

Studies have shown that user tags result in a consensus of acceptable vocabulary created by users.  The masses outweigh the handful of individuals that tend to fall into the extremes – whether it is through individual point of views or a creative use of language to get around the black-listed words.

Steven Arakawa, Catalogue Librarian for Training and Documentation at Yale University made a good point on AUTOCAT when speaking about the controversial tags assigned to Sarah Palin’s new book:

“It’s to be expected that political and cultural friction works will generate tags that push the envelope of decorum and often do more harm than good for the position being advocated. And the official “tags” provided by catalogers can introduce objectivity and neutrality which is a positive contribution if sometimes bland, like network news.

But no one seems to have put in a good word for taggers’ specialist knowledge–as opposed to emotional connection–regarding many niche subjects, knowledge that might very well go beyond the general knowledge of the average cataloger.”


Filed under Access Issues, Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue