RT: Pointing out LibraryThing doesn’t give away all its data anymore that OCLC do
TS: Only tags are protected
Bit of a ‘librarything’ vs ‘OCLC’ thing going on here – find this a bit petty and dull
MY: Television went free because of advertising – but this changed the nature of what was on TV – just stuff that attracted the advertisers target audience
JB: First thought on seeing librarything user generated links between books – oh my god – what if it is done wrong? But then, realised – you have to view the data in the way it has been added – don’t mistake it for cataloging, but it is really valuable.
TS: LibraryThing still only has binary representation of FRBR relationships – needs to be more sophisticated
DH: Need to capture ‘point of view’ – make the point we have a ‘point of view’ – maybe not as objective as we think – but it is important. We need to allow different points of view – then we can form communities of practice around those people who share our point of view
This is so important – I really think this is key. What we need is ways of being able to express a ‘point of view’ and filter the world to allow us to use the things done by specific people or communities to give us ‘our’ view. I wonder if there is an approach or we need one which would allows a ‘distributed’ wiki approach – where you could overlay changes only made by specific people etc? This is how collaborative cataloging would work in my head – I need to write something on this and explain it more clearly.
RW: Not all going to happen one way – how do we deal with this?
TS: Open data
TS: RDF – just another example of an over-engineered solution – worried many web people don’t believe in it
DH: Important to know about RDF – agree not necessarily ‘the answer’ – no right and wrong, but mix of approaches
I think that we need to at least embrace the concepts of RDF – this is about linked data folks – I don’t care to some extent about mechanics – RDF, Microformats, structured HTML etc.
DH: We shouldn’t spend all our time on secondary products (books and serials) – need to look at primary stuff – the ‘long tail’ of library resources
TS: LibraryThing has better series information than you buy from Bowker. Publishers want their covers out there. There is going to be a lot of information
MY: But if there is value in cataloguing, shouldn’t it be paid for?
DH: Don’t count value by each record created. You can pay for things in different ways. Need to stop thinking about charging for metadata even though it costs to create it. You have to make value further down the chain
This is the same as the idea of the ‘free our data’ campaign by the Guardian – we increase value by giving away information, because it aids the information economy, which grows, and pushes value back into the system. This is counter-intuitive, but the report from Cambridge on this showed the vast amount of value in publicly funded information like Ordinance Survey.
MY: It is difficult to carryout cost/benefit studies in libraries – they usually end up just being ‘cost’ because benefit so difficult to measure. Problem is that we serve an ‘elite’ and difficult for society to see that value
I disagree with some of this – it is used by ‘an elite’ because this is who we make it available to – comes back to open data again’ . I agree it is important to fund universities – and would agree ‘benefit’ is difficult to measure
Now open to the floor for comments and questions:
Q: Question around issues of ‘turning loose data’ – concerns – perhaps several overlapping concerns
A: It is scary, but need to do
TS: Need a fielded ‘forkable’ wiki as catalog – not wikipedia model where there is ‘one right answer’
Comment: What are the five most important things we ought to be teaching LS students in knowledge organisation/cataloguing right now? Answers online please!
Q: Libraries are not something ‘isolated’ – how do we fit into an integrated world?
RT: Very much agree need to break down barriers between different information silos – archives, libraries, museums
Q: The unique/unusual stuff isn’t going to be tagged on librarything
DH: We need to understand that it is not just one cataloguers responsibility to provide metadata on a resource. There is a community around every object – and you have to harness that
TS: There is a lower limit – communities need to be a particular size to be useful
Q: How much of the success of librarything is on planning and how much ‘on the fly’. Also what about the economics – how do you get paid?
TS: Just throw stuff up and see how it flies
TS: On economics – do good ideas, then work out how you get paid – if it is good enough, money will flow towards it
Missed a load of discussion there, because I got up to ask a question, however worth noting that a lady from ? the National Library of Singapore ? talked about how by creating ‘microsites’ of some of their documents they increased hits from 400 a month (when the docs were in a ‘digital library system’) to 150,000 a month (and rising at 10% a month). This just hammers home the point that we need to put our data ‘on the web’ in a web native way – microsites may not be the only way – but (for example) if our online systems supported simple URLs to a record (like say Flickr does) then we would have this working – but because they all use (or have traditionally) session IDs in their URLs this just does not happen.
Q: Why does tagging in LibraryThing work but not in other environments?
TS: Whether user contribution is useful or not is highly situational. Don’t believe that tagging will be successful in a library catalog – the user just isn’t in that ‘frame of mind’ – when they are using the catalog, they may not even have read it. If we want to use tagging data in catalogs, libraries will need to bring it in from other sources.