Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Catalogue 2.0

It's blogs like Web 2.0 Catalog that keep me going. Catalogues have been the crux of librarianship, from the card catalogue to the OPAC. But for libraries, the catalogue has always seemed to be a separate entity. It's as if there is a dichotomy: the Social Web and the catalogue -- from there, the twine shall never meet. What would a dream catalogue look like to me? I have 8 things I’d like to see. Notice that it’s not out of the stretch of imagination. Here they are:

(1) Wikipedia – What better way to get the most updated information for a resource than the collective intelligence of the Web? Can we integrate this into the OPAC records? We should try.

(2) Blog – “Blog-noting” as I call it. To a certain extent, some catalogues already allow users to scribble comments on records. But blog-noting allows users to actually write down reflections of what they think of the resource. The catalogue should be a “conversation” among users.

(3) Amazon.ca - Wouldn’t it be nice to have an idea what a book costs out on the open market? And wouldn’t it make sense to throw in an idea of how much the used cost would be?

(4) Worldcat - Now that you know the price, wouldn’t it be useful to have an idea of what other libraries carry the book?

(5) Google-ability – OPAC resources are often online, but “hidden” in the deep web. If opened up to search engines, it makes it that much accessible.

(6) Social bookmarking – If the record is opened to the Web, then it naturally makes sense to be linked to Delicious, Refshare & Citulike (or similar bibliographic management service).

(7) Cataloguer’s paradise – Technical servicemen and women are often hidden in the pipelines of the library system, their work often unrecognized. These brave men and women should have their profiles right on the catalogue, for everyone to see, to enjoy. Makes for good outreach, too. (Photo is optional).

(8) Application Programming Interface - API's are sets of declarations of the functions (or procedures) that an operating system, library or service provides to support requests made by computer programs. It's like the interoperable sauce which adds taste to web service. It's the crux of Web 2.0, and will be important for the Semantic Web when the Open Web will finally arrive. As a result, API's need to be explored in detail by OPACs, for ways to integrate different programs and provide open data for reuse for others.

Are these ideas out of the realms of possibility? Your thoughts?

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