WorldCat features: June 2009 Archives
Last week we updated you on the WorldCat Identities integration enhancement, and you might be interested in a few other enhancements as well:
Updates to Advanced Search
Advanced Search has been streamlined and updated in anticipation of the single-search access to your library's OCLC eContent on WorldCat.org, coming this summer.
There are now three dropdown boxes that contain index choices such as OCLC number (also called Accession Number), Author, ISBN, ISSN, Keyword, Title and Subject.
Privacy settings now easier to spot
WorldCat.org respects your privacy, and now it's even easier to tell at a glance which items you've marked as public or private. Individual items such as favorite libraries, lists and saved searches are now marked with a red circle to indicate private, or a blue parentheses for public. Make any privacy updates from your profile page by clicking on each area's summary section header.
Each month we work on making the site more valuable and easier to use.
We've just incorporated WorldCat Identities into WorldCat.org navigation proper, rather than having to satellite out to a listing and then find your own way back. You can get to a WorldCat Identities page from the "Find more information about" drop-down in the Details section of a detailed record:
WorldCat Identities is one of those fun things we like to play around with, here at OCLC. It showcases things you don't find many other places--like you can see the most widely held works by a writer, or how one fictional character is related to another one, or get a visual for publication timelines, or audience recommendation levels, or, or, or...there's a lot of good stuff there.
In fact, here's our own Andy Havens talking about WorldCat Identities:
So who's your favorite WorldCat Identity? Tell the world, in your comments. Or tweet it with the tag #wcid
Updated note:The Barack Obama Identities page linked to above does not list the subject headings with him as President. It turns out, WorldCat Identities reflects a writer or a character's bibliographic footprint. Everything on an Identities page is actually pulled from a bibliographic record in WorldCat. So WorldCat needs people to write more items (and have libraries acquire them) about Obama now that he is the POTUS, and the Identities page will update accordingly.
The initial phase of the WorldCat Library Profile feature launched in mid-May and is now off and running.
The following are some interesting stats from the 'Recent Items added by this library to WorldCat' area:
• There were 13,689 libraries that added a new item to WorldCat in May.
• Of those, 1,099 did not have existing recent items lists from April, so WorldCat automatically created a new list.
• 12,590 recent items lists were updated (for libraries that had new items in both April and May).
• The most popular item added to WorldCat in May, added by 2,245 libraries, was Dying To Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road.
We are still working to resolve the issue for those libraries that cannot yet view their profile. We hope to have a fix in place very soon and apologize for the inconvenience.
A recent discussion with Matt Goldner, product and technology advocate here at OCLC, reminded me of my favorite quote from the wonderful movie "Big Fish."
Matt described to me a workshop he conducted where he discussed what librarians and patrons believe to be most important in information discovery:
- Librarians are interested in the metadata because that's what they use to locate the item a patron needs. This is important when you and I are standing in front of them asking for help. Perfect metadata helps the librarians help us faster.
- Us patrons, and Web users, are more interested in discovering what is out there because in many cases we haven't figured out exactly what to ask for. We use search engines and keywords to locate things. Then we use reviews, tags and user comments to evaluate whether the things we've found will really help us. (Which is why reviews, tags and comments are often called evaluative content.)
If we were standing in a library or in a live chat, a librarian would ask us all the right questions and suggest the resources most likely to provide what we need. Without having that librarian there to evaluate our needs and apply their expertise, we're left trying to determine quality and appropriateness on our own.
And that's where I started thinking about Big Fish. Albert Finney's character, Ed Bloom, is a salesman and a storyteller while his son, Will, is a reporter for United Press International. Albert delivers the movie's climatic phrase in a subtle moment by saying that his son can't tell a story well because he would give you "all of the facts and none of the flavor."
That strikes me as an important difference between metadata and evaluative content. Mind you, I'm not talking about the librarians. They can provide all the flavor you want. But when you remove the person--the storyteller--and it is just you and your computer, the facts just aren't enough. We need some flavor, some context to help us evaluate the information and to make it useful.
I cornered Matt the other day because I'm re-reading an old article, "Collaborative Tagging as a Knowledge Organisation and Resource Discovery Tool" (Library Review V. 55; No. 5, 2006). The authors, George Macgregor and Emma McCulloch, discuss the pros and cons of tagging and controlled vocabularies. While they clearly favor the controlled vocabularies of the library world, they allow that tagging is a means for "exploring exhaustive subject areas before formal exploration."
Tags and evaluative content provide the context, the flavor, we need to help us zero in on what we're really looking for. Nothing beats a good reference interview by a librarian, but when it is just me and my computer, evaluative content works very well. And that's why I love working on WorldCat.org. We're bringing more and more evaluative content to the site to help Web users discover some of the flavor of what libraries have to offer.