bobrobboy: 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.
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.