Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Kangaroos! (and the NLA)

I’m finally back from Australia and a whirlwind week of vacation in California, and I’m rearin’ to go!* I had a fantastic time speaking at the National Library of Australia’s Innovative Ideas Forum. It was a lively mix of speakers, including Susan Chun who talked about the steve.museum project—tagging art! Very cool. Canberra is a beautiful city, and the NLA bent over backwards with hospitality (the kangaroo picture I took in the backyard of NLA’s head of IT!). I’d go back in a heartbeat 🙂

My talk focused on tagging and the wiki-like aspects of LibraryThing.** It was an incredibly receptive group—I’d never seen so many librarians clamouring for tags! There was a serious push to get the “tag consortium” that we’ve talked about before up and running. Because, as Tim has mentioned many times before, tags are most useful when they’re available in large quantities. So we’re going to offer up APIs and widgets that will allow libraries to both add tagging to their site, and to access LibraryThing’s 16 million.***

The white building in the background is the National Library of Australia. I couldn’t resist the rainbow picture!

update: I forgot! I promised Fiona (who called me “the biggest geek there”) that I’d bring attention to the group she created right after the program, Aussie Librarians. So go join!

Now, to get through all the email piled up in my inbox…

*Advice for life: having a vacation back-to-back with a business trip is exhausting. Particularly when time-travel is involved—Tuesday the 17th never happened for me, but Saturday the 21st I lived through twice. One 4/21/07 I spent walking around Sydney harbor (thanks to a 10 hour flight delay), and then I repeated the day on the plane… I have a newfound respect for that Groundhog Day movie…
**Stop and think about how much of LibraryThing is done by its members (i.e., you). You add books, of course, but also tags, reviews, and ratings. You upload cover images of books, photos and pictures of authors. You combine tags, author names, and works. You add links and disambiguation notices to author pages. And you’ve translated the site into 30 different languagues. That, folks, is nothing short of incredible. The helpers page on the Zeitgeist, if you haven’t seen it, is an addictive chronicle of all this work.
***LibraryThing for Libraries is certainly a big step in adding tagging to library catalogs (we’ve got tag-based browsing widgets up and testing now, and are are working on widgets that will allow patrons to add tags).

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