Tag! You’re it!

Tagging can be a useful way for people to categorize things using their own words, which makes it easier for them to find it later. It is also useful in instances where controlled vocabularies are lacking, such as slang or new technology. It can also be interesting to click on a tag and see how it has been used by others. The problem of tagging, though, is that not everyone thinks the same way, and tags that are meaningful to some people might be completely meaningless to others. Allowing users to tag items in the library catalogue makes it more social and provides more opportunity for patrons to feel involved in creating the content of the website. But how can the library control for appropriate tags? And what is “appropriate”? Should it limited to removing any tags containing profanity or other potentially offensive terms? On the other hand, subject headings such as Library of Congress are not always up to date on certain topics, and seeing how users tag items might give librarians insight into additional terms they might consider when cataloguing.

For this week’s activity, I decided to join delicious. I had been meaning to look into it for a while, but had never gotten around to it. I like the idea of being able to check my bookmarks from any computer, since I currently have a laptop and a desktop and I know for a fact I do not have all the same sites bookmarked on each. I first had to create an account (delicious.com/kimthelibrarian) and then bookmark a few sites. I thought it was interesting to see the tags other people have given sites that I bookmarked, and I had fun making my own tags and notes as well. So far I have only marked a few sites that I could find easily without a socail bookmarking site. However, I could see this being really useful for those times when you stumble across something that you want to check out later. The ability to add tags and notes makes it easy for you to remember later why you thought that site was so interesting. I could see libraries using a site like delicious to bookmark useful reference sites that could be acccessed by any staff member anywhere in the library or at home, using the tags to make it obvious how the site might be useful, for example, for answering a certain type of reference question.

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3 thoughts on “Tag! You’re it!

  1. I agree with your sentiment that a potential problem of tagging and general user based classification of items is that “not everyone thinks the same way.” In my blog post this week, I talk about the website http://www.rateyourmusic.com and how this site allows users to tag items in their own catalogues, but that these tags can’t be viewed by other users. This prevents contradictory tags from being applied to items (e.g. one user may tag an item as “best album ever” while another may tag the same item as “offensive to the ears”). I guess some moderation over tagging must be enforced by a regulator of this site, and also of library collections. Perhaps allowing descriptive tags but not evaluative language in the tags may be one way to deal with this: perhaps a moderator could review potential tags to be posted (e.g. a user tagging Moby Dick as “book about whales”) but not allowing tags that provide some sort of assessment about the work (e.g. not allowing a user to tag Moby Dick as a “long boring symbolist tome”). Perhaps this is the way to work around potential issues of user-based classification in any sort of library collection.

  2. I’m definitely going to look at Delicious in closer detail because I could see it being very effective for the small academic library I work in. Especially for what you pointed in that any/all staff can access it. Getting the team on board is key to making them living working documents for the benefits of students and faculty.

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