I’ve been pondering again. So I’m going to inflict it on you.
We have recently added Chili Fresh reviews to our catalogue. I like it, its easy to use, easy to add reviews, we have the weight of Chili Fresh reviews from around the world to populate our catalogue and they have some really cool social networking features coming soon.
But Chili Fresh doesn’t have user tagging (at least not yet). Which of course got me thinking about tagging.
A common problem experienced in public libraries and I’m sure in other libraries too, is when you have a user come up and say something like:
“Can you help me, I’m looking for a book that I have had before. Its about gardening, its green and its about this big (demonstration using hands).”
They can’t remember anything about the author, but sometimes they can remember more about the content. In the above type of example, it would be something about vegetables.
Barring miraculous circumstances, (like you have read that same book), or the luck of finding said book on shelf or trolley in roughly the place you would expect it to be, the likelihood of finding it with that information alone is nigh impossible.
So my reasoning was that if users could tag our catalogue records with that sort of information, it we be of great use to both them and us in finding that same title in future.
A few problems with my reasoning as I pondered further.
First would be getting the users to tag the details in the first place. Although we have a few people (more than we expected) putting reviews on our catalogue, it is nowhere near critical mass.
Second, do you know how many green books about gardening, let alone vegetables, we have?
And finally, the piece de resistance. You finally find that book that the user was so desperate for and the only thing they got right was that it was about gardening. As for the rest of it, the subject was hydroponics, the book was orange and it was a very different shape and size.
Now only if we could tag each item by its actual details as well as its perceived details, we might have something. But by then, the tags will take up more than a screen of detail and would probably send the catalogue search feature into meltdown.
When we do get tagging (and we will somehow, someday), we won’t stop our users from adding this sort of information, but I guess only experience will be able to tell us if it will be of any help.
What sort of ideas have you had about new technologies, which might not work so well in a library situation? Maybe we can help you resolve your problems around it. Would also love to hear your thoughts on this one.