Monday, May 7th, 2007

“Why Web 2.0 is leading back to full cataloging”

Interesting post on LibraryJuice on “Why Web 2.0 is leading back to full cataloging” covering LibraryThingThing and

The quick summary–okay, the first sentence and the last!–is:

“We often think of Web 2.0 sites in terms of the idea of “tagging instead of cataloging.” … Free-form tagging has its place, but where consistency and accuracy counts, as it does in many Web 2.0 sites, I think reliance on users will turn out to have been a dead-end, and there will be a new appreciation for our professionalism.”

I agree with the idea that Web 2.0 can—indeed, in LibraryThing, has!—lead to a new appreciation of library data, libraries, librarians and catalogers. It might help, however, if more libraries (and particularly OCLC) released their data, and in friendly formats, not MARC. (It’s hard to appreciate something you don’t know about and can’t use.) But I strongly disagree that there’s a real tension between the two—that tags are the enemy of subjects, for example. But it’s certainly food for thought.

If the blogger reads this, how about spending some more time on LibraryThing? Some of LibraryThing’s social cataloging features were mentioned, but then not brought into the argument. For example, other librarians have noticed that LibraryThing’s work-disambiguation data was of very high quality, and a number of libraries are already using it. That data is member-created, but built on library data. Maybe that’s the future–a constructive collaboration and mutual respect between professionals and amateurs.

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