[OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Feature inquiry

Mark Leggott mleggott at upei.ca
Wed Oct 8 07:20:31 EDT 2008

Some great discussion on a number of points! My thoughts on tagging.

- I think tagging could be a very useful feature - in the right  
community context, since it is all about community. In order to see  
how this could work I think we need to stop thinking of the entire bib  
database as the foundation (too blunt an instrument) and think more of  
how the users do and could use it. We also need to make sure we  
provide the additional functions (like subscribe to a tag, eMail new  
tagged items, etc.) that make tagging useful to the community.

- For example, tagging in the public library context could become a  
community generated readers advisory. Tag records with author names  
that you felt were similar. Rather than buying the big NY-centric (or  
wherever) readers services build a local one that reflects local  

- Get your bookclubs and other groups to tag in their context, whether  
it be support books for the book under discussion or the local history  
society tagging so they can build help guides and paths for their  
community of interest.

- In a University context tag items with a course ID so fellow  
students can see what other students found useful. Better yet, find a  
prof or 2 who will give marks for this community, patricipatory  
effort. The tags will come soon after that.

This also gets at another feature I would like to see, which is  
allowing users to attach their bibliographies to the records in the  
OPAC. Tagging needn't be about one word - more on this idea in another  


On 7-Oct-08, at 7:57 PM, Jonathan Rochkind <jonathan at dnil.net> wrote:

> I think the only point at which a user would actually be motivated  
> to tag something is when they are organizing citations for their own  
> use, one way or another. When they are saving a citation to their  
> own 'book bag', or to making a request (saving it to their request  
> list), etc.  By and large, people don't tag just for the enjoyment  
> of tagging, or to provide useful query words for others. They tag to  
> achieve some personal goal. "personal value precedes network value”. 
>  (http://bokardo.com/archives/the-delicious-lesson/)
> So on the one hand, I'm skeptical in general of how much our users  
> are going to use tags. I think most experiments so far with tagging  
> in library catalogs have not achieved much use from users.   Perhaps  
> it should quite rightly not be a priority for the Evergreen  
> development. Are users asking for it? Would users use it? (Sometimes  
> users end up using something they didn't even know to ask for,  
> certainly---when it fills a need they have, but they didn't realize  
> to ask for it to fill that need. What need does tagging fill for the  
> user?)
> To make tagging useful, I think you need two things. First you need  
> to identify and fill the "personal value".  How will the ability to  
> tag help the individual person doing the tagging?  If you've got a  
> 'bookbag' feature that is useful enough that your users are actually  
> using it, and they are storing so much stuff in it that they might  
> have trouble keeping track of what they're stored there, you might  
> be already there. (How much use of the bookbag and what sorts of use  
> is Georgia seeing?). But if that's going to be the personal value  
> that motivates tagging, you've got to let the user apply the tags at  
> the moment of personal use. You can't say, oh, you can tag, but only  
> after you've checked out the book.  Nobody's going to go back to the  
> catalog to find a book they already checked out to add a tag. Users  
> find books in the catalog _before_ they've checked them out!
> Then once you've got the personal value there, if you want to  
> achieve the network value, that's when aggregating tags accross  
> multiple institutions matters. But if users have got no motivation  
> to tag, no personal value, they aren't going to do it in the first  
> place. In that case, those worried about tags 'polluting' the  
> catalog don't need to, because there aren't going to be any tags  
> there anyway.
> Jonathan
> On Oct 7, 2008, at 11:46 AM, Deanna Frazee wrote:
>> This prompts another thought.  If I eventually am persuaded to allow
>> tagging (and if I persuade my staff that it is worthwhile), can we  
>> have
>> tagging only by someone who has actually checked out the item?  One  
>> of
>> the problems with Amazon, for example, is that anyone can go in and  
>> tag
>> an item.  Granted, many people will not abuse this, but not  
>> everyone has
>> scruples.
>> Another thing that would make it more palatable is if you could  
>> have a
>> list of disallowed words or something that alerts library staff to
>> disallowed words.  I'm thinking here more of words like "great" or
>> "stupid."  As tags, these are so subjective as to be useless.  Yes, I
>> know, this is still going against the wisdom of the masses.  The Who
>> Wants to Be a Millionaire audience did not always know the answer,
>> though.
>> Deanna Frazee
>> Killeen City Library System
>> (254) 501-8995
>> (254) 501-7704 (fax)
>> dfrazee at ci.killeen.tx.us
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: open-ils-general-bounces at list.georgialibraries.org
>> [mailto:open-ils-
>>> general-bounces at list.georgialibraries.org] On Behalf Of David  
>>> Fiander
>>> Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 10:25 AM
>>> To: Evergreen Discussion Group
>>> Subject: Re: [OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Feature inquiry
>>> Academic research has show that "wisdom of the masses" does work in
>>> certain specific kinds of settings. Librarything, google, delicious,
>>> and the "ask the audience" lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire
>>> all demonstrate that it works on a more pragmatic way.
>>> The problem is that there have to be "masses" involved in being  
>>> wise,
>>> and "the library staff" don't count as the masses. This is why
>>> Librarything for Libraries works: it's taking a REAL mass of book
>>> lovers and using that as the base collection of tags and ratings for
>>> the library catalogue, rather than trying to create a new collection
>>> of tags from scratch in a small community (it doesn't matter how big
>>> your library is, the set of users that will tag is small compared to
>>> the LT community).
>>> -David
>>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 11:12 AM, Jason Etheridge
>> <jason at esilibrary.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 10:54 AM, Deanna  Frazee
>>>> <dfrazee at ci.killeen.tx.us> wrote:
>>>>> Wisdom of the masses....that's where my problem lies.  I don't
>> believe
>>> it exists :)
>>>> Wisdom of the masses is the main way that relevancy in Google  
>>>> works.
>>>> Except, instead of tagging, it's linking.
>>>> --
>>>> Jason Etheridge
>>>> | VP, Community Support and Advocacy
>>>> | Equinox Software, Inc. / The Evergreen Experts
>>>> | phone:  1-877-OPEN-ILS (673-6457)
>>>> | email:  jason at esilibrary.com
>>>> | web:  http://www.esilibrary.com

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