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Library Camp – Weinberger & Cataloging

Aug - 14 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

Ben Armentor – Columbia Computer Programmer was our moderator.

- A lot of people here for the intellectual discussion – a nice balance of catalogers and those here for general interest.

- Ben’s summary of Weinberger’s position: Weinberger’s position is that you can describe the organization of things in collections (the long view). There is an age of first order of things (physical object). The second order of organization – emergence of metadata/cataloging – you keep an index to identify items. The third order (more emergent) – like cataloging of metadata – is a much more generic type of descriptive terms/associations (unlike cataloging which is based on the physical limitations) – broader type of organizing things.

- Do we feel that the metadata scheme is there to handle this type third type of order? Aren’t associations also based on culture?

- One librarian felt that tags were a way of dumbing down the system. LC subject headings are always the same and easier to find things.

- Weinberger isn’t saying it’s one or the other – he says to use LC in conjunction with other folksonomies – and actually breaks you out of the cultural constraints because you can have multiple tags for the one item.

- You can also see that all of the terms are related.

- All data is metadata – all metadata is data when it comes to digital objects (title, summary, author, and tags).

- People often say to public librarians that they have found things on Google – the reference librarian always wants explain that Google doesn’t have any content – it just searches stuff. (Kate Sheehan)

- Isn’t Library 2.0 saying that there are no experts? No, it’s saying that everyone is an expert in some way. Library 2.0 is not the dismissal of authority. It’s the retooling of authority and coming at it in different ways. (John Blyberg).

- Look at facetted search engines -it’s a great way to get at additional information in a browseable way. It introduces this idea of serendipity which is also what tagging does. It’s a way of having a new start point. (John Blyberg).

- If you’ve read that book – then you know more thorough understanding of what it’s about. The cataloger often hasn’t read the book before cataloging it. (Kate Sheehan).

- Cataloging subject headings are what books are “generally” about. You can start there and then find titles using tags to find other resources that are not necessarily generally about that topic – but do touch on that topic.

- Weinberger is more focused on items that probably don’t even have LC classification. He’s talking about items that aren’t necessarily findable right now. (Ben)

- When working with images the LC system is just not adequate. Library arrangement is amazing once you’re in the circle – the group that understands the system. When you’re not in the circle you need a translator (a digital collections cataloger).

- In LibraryThing tags that are similar (dogs and dog) are combined by the people. Is it still a folksonomy? It’s done by people – but it’s also not individual. (Abby & John)

- Do you want to fix misspellings? What if it’s a common misspelling? If the tag/subject heading is spelled correctly but everyone misspells that word it won’t ever be found. Where does editing of tags begin and end – should it be done?

- What about screen readers and tag clouds? Can they read tag clouds the same way (big being more important)? There are ways to edit the code. It’s on the burden of the developer to change the code so the readers can “see” that the bigger words are more important and are read first. The more modern readers can tell the differences in style sheets.

- One person argued that there is a lot of overlap between the LC subject headings and the tags on LibraryThing. Abby responded showing great examples of tags bringing genre info to the top of the search results.

- Our users don’t think in subject headings (Kate)

- Tagging is really great for very large collections where there are a lot of titles in a particular LC heading.

- People tag for personal reasons – allowing them to build meaningful collections for themselves. (John Blyberg)

- Will patrons really come in and tag items? The power users who are passionate about something will come in and tag. Those casual users may not be tagging, but they’re benefiting from the tags. While it’s just power users tagging – they’re still not librarians – they’ll use the lingo that most people understand – the tags are not just geared toward them like subject headings are just understandable by librarians.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. [...] This morning I read a post at Nicole Engard’s blog, What I Learned Today…, about a Library Camp session. The post is titled “Library Camp – Weinberger & Cataloging.” [...]

  2. [...] Engard quoted John Blyberg in a synopsis of a moderated discussion on Weinberger and Cataloging: “Library 2.0 is not the dismissal of authority. It’s the retooling of authority and coming at [...]


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