April 2008 Archives
A recent feedback message questioned whether libraries have a place on the social Web. If ease of use, community, experience and knowledge are valued; then libraries and librarians are perfectly suited for this new online environment. Many, many other bloggers have posted on this topic, including all of the bloggers ranked by OEDb and several books and articles have been published on the topic lately. This is just my take from the WorldCat.org side of things.
Why Social Networking
Social networking and Web 2.0 in general have come to mean many different things. I can understand why the terms--and even some of the tools we associate with the terms--are misunderstood. We at WorldCat.org are not thinking so much about social networking, rather we are building a space where information seekers, library patrons and librarians can come together and collaborate.
We are thinking well beyond the me-tooism of chasing 'friends' on MySpace or 'fans' on Facebook, even as we exploit those environments to bring library resources closer to Web users. If WorldCat.org was just a list of 'friends' and the books they have read, it would be nothing more than all the other book related sites.
It's All About Easy
Librarians and professional researchers have had access to OCLC's WorldCat database for decades. But we made the public face of that database easy to use so everyone can benefit from the knowledge accumulated in libraries and from the experience of librarians.
The first generation of Web-based tools provided services similar to what these sites offer, but the tools of yesterday required patience, arcane knowledge and often browser plugins and high-speed Internet access. We were able to share photos in the 1990's and even earlier, but those tools were so complicated or expensive that most people never bothered. In fact most people didn't even know the opportunity to learn from and share with each other existed online. IMHO we all lost out.
We are making WorldCat.org as easy to use as possible and building tools to help Web users everywhere to discover the wealth of information libraries, experts and librarians can bring to bare on common questions. By brining library resources to the Web user, we will increase the reach and impact that a 'serious researcher' or librarian can have within their area of expertise.
So thank a librarian, a teacher, a student, a professor and a sergeant. Thank a stay-at-home mom, a pastor, a rabbi. Thank a business analyst, an entrepreneur and a delivery driver. Thank your neighbors for helping to create this great learning environment of Web 2.0. And I thank the collective You for so many years of sharing and teaching.
I have to confess that I'm a person of instant gratification. I think almost anyone growing up in the age of digital media and the internet has to be. I also love getting a great deal on stuff. And that's why I love that my local library has so many electronic options. Downloadable auido books and downloadable movies! It's like, why would I pay for movie subscriptions when I can get movies from my library? Granted, some of the downloadable movies aren't exactly new releases, but I find myself watching repeats of old movies on TNT more than I find myself buying newly released movies OnDemand at home anyway. I especially love that the status is "always available". If only I could also get them on my ipod....maybe someday.
I'm still mastering how to find these items in worldcat.org, but one way that seems to work for me is to search for contentreserve.com and then narrowing down to find in libraries for "just this edition" instead of all editions. These are just some items that my library offers access to, I know there are a lot more records out there.
Is anyone else's house in an uproar because of all the controversy going on with bisphenol A in water bottles?
I'd known it was something to be concerned with, when we had a baby and I dutifully bought the bisphenol-free bottles, thinking it was mostly a done deal.
Then this week it seems like every time I turn around, I see more articles about it. And I started looking around our kitchen--we have a LOT of plastic stuff. And we'd been reusing everything, thinking we were doing something good for the environment. Well...
So I looked up some scholarly article citations about it, and watched Matt Lauer, listened to NPR and read the LATimes...
I feel more knowledgeable about the situation now. Enough to make me throw out all the scratched #7s and the re-used #1s!
Most people don’t get too excited about search result pages. We type in some terms; we get some results back. We expect the results to be helpful, and we expect all this to happen in a few seconds. We don't ask for much more than that.
At OCLC we take search a little more seriously than most folks. But even so, I was really surprised when I started experimenting with the new digital image collections that have been integrated into WorldCat.org. Just adding 'cntnt' to a search term will limit your search to the new collections.
A fellow Tribe fan sent me a link to a search on "Cleveland Indians" which pulled up about 60 digital images mostly from the Cleveland Memory Project. I love this shot of Satchel Paige in his Cleveland uniform.
But my favorite searches so far have been on "political cartoons" which unearthed around 30 great cartoons from the 1960's and earlier, and a search I did for my mom, who collects postcards, which brought up several thousand wonderful old postcards.
So try some searches using the limiter 'cntnt' and see what you find. And share your discoveries with the rest of us by posting the links in the comments below or on your own blog.
We've had a long spate of grey skies and dreary weather in my part of the world, but this morning I woke up to sunny blue skies. Something about having sunshine hit your eyelids first thing when you wake up...it is almost guaranteed to make you feel good. Maybe it's spring fever, but I'll take it, I'll take it!
So I was already thinking about springtime and our long-since-planned, waiting-to-be-enacted landscaping project in the backyard this morning. Last night my neighbor and I were talking about whether the price of oil would affect the price of our planned asphalt drive. He was certain the cost would go up over last year's quote.
So I had home projects on the brain when I logged into e-mail this morning. And what a nice coincidence I found, when my friend Kelly sent a note about her green attempts as a homeowner. Now she lives in a warmer climate than I--her Spring has already started! But her entries inspired me to look again at green landscaping options for our project.
Maybe you, too, will find some inspiration from these green lists on WorldCat. At some point I will get to move my digging from online sources to the soil...but until then it is fun to see what inspiration others have found in WorldCat. What color are your dreams?
I came across this video on YouTube a little while ago that I thought you might find interesting. It's a great demo created by Karin Dalziel on how to use the Firefox extension Drag de Go to search WorldCat.
What a nice tool! Thanks for sharing this, Karin!
I don't know if you blog. But maybe you know someone who does. Other than me, that is. Or somebody who manages Web pages of some kind. Or somebody who likes to send links in email.
Part of the fun of blogging for me is sharing stuff that I like with people I know. And on the Web, "sharing" means "sending you a link." And if you've gone to the trouble of creating a list in WorldCat, it's almost freakishly easy to turn that list into a set of click-able links for your blog, Web site or email.
- Get an account and create a list in WorldCat.
- Go to the "Citations View" tab of the list.
- Pick the citation style you like (I prefer MLA for this kind of list)
- Choose to "Export selected references as:" HTML
- And click on "Export."
Now... Take that new HTML page of text+hyperlinks, select everything, and paste it into your blog engine, Web page or email. Depending on what software you're using, it might go in just as a copy/paste, or you may have to play with your tags a bit. It worked for me that easily in Gmail and in WordPress. Let me know how it goes elsewhere.
Unfortunately, some of our profile image functionality is not working properly right now. The team is working to resolve the issue but it sounds like it may take a couple days.
By early next week any images that are no longer displaying should be restored, you’ll be able to add or change any existing images then too. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.
Thanks for your patience!
I ran across this interesting post yesterday on how adding the right kind of additional data to a dataset did more to improve its searchability and relevance than creating a more complex algorithm to search it. Worth a read for those search-geeks out there like myself.
We have daily conversations here about how to improve the relevance of WorldCat's search and find ourselves tweaking the algorithm almost monthly, but it's amazing how much more relevant the results became (back in the early days of '06) just by adding the count of libraries that hold an item into the "data pool." This gets me excited to start folding user-contributed data (tags, reviews, what-have-you) into the mix as it makes sense and as critical mass builds. The benefits to discoverability could be tremendous.