It's great. What is it?
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I have been enjoying Library Thing in the comfort of my own home for some time now but last week I was approached by a colleague who had just heard about it and was wondering how we could exploit it it in an academic library setting. Sadly I was stumped. Can I poach any kernels of innovation from this forum? Is anyone else investigating ways to prise an applied use from Library Thing or related mashups?
I think the only limit is your imagination ;)
For academic libraries you could start by letting your users know that LT exists and could be useful for individuals or groups to keep track of works they use, reference, need etc.. The new groups function can only further facilitate this.
The same goes for internal use - e.g. bib. services could add new acquistions and then pipe the RSS feed to their users etc... Or use the widget in their library blog. Or use the new search function... Subject specialists could do the same.
I'm not sure if LT yet provides feeds for tags (I know there's feeds for recent tags, and tagged reviews). Applying exclusive tags is a good way to use LT for your organisation.
And all this is without mashups or technical know-how!
I work in a high school library and am definately using it as a reader's advisory tool. I am keeping track of what I've read and tagging it according to how I think it will help me when I get asked a question. The beauty of LT is that it is always with us and searchable(as long as there is and Internet connection), unlike other tools I have used in the past--notecards, book journals, calendars. Also, it is so easy to use.
I was a history major in college and would keep working bibliographies for papers I was working on. LT could have been helpful in this area because it is easier to search (versus my word documents) and tag. As mentioned by NickW I think groups would also aid researchers in finding items they might have missed because the traditional databases don't have it.
Does your library do a newsletter or website? It could be highlighted there to let people know about it and you could request feedback on how people are using it for a follow up article or just FYI.
Of course, over the next few years library system vendors will be rolling out OPACS with functionality like recommendations, search ranking, tagging, covers etc... Some US unis are experimenting with some of the above already.
Then the challenge will be how these OPACS will interact with sites like LT. A lot of organisations (e.g. universities) have a thing about what happens inside v. outside 'the firewall'. A lot of which is justified (e.g. intellectual property, privacy etc..), and a lot of which is not justified (e.g. untrustworthy code, the web=porn etc..).
At the moment people are going outside the firewall because their organisations are not providing the services they want (wikis, blogs, social tagging etc..).
Perhaps we'll see LT et al. provide 'off the shelf' / 'out of the box' versions. Now that would be fun!!
I teach public computer classes for our library system and I am planning on doing a LibraryThing class this coming September. I imagine that this can be done in an academic setting as well – if the resources are there.
It is more or less an invitation and a get to know LT type class.
The possible uses for research and data tracking are amazing.
One library I know of uses it to catalog departmental books for internal use only. I'm collaborating on an article that will address this, among other things.
I think there's great potential to exploit LT's cover image virtual shelf browse feature -- how many times do we hear "I need that math book again ... the orange one ..."?!
8urbangreen First Message
Oooh, maybe that could be a feature request --
A nice bibliography export option. Something like an option in the Joy area to export a happy text file in X (select APA, MLA, etc) citation format for all items tagged as Y(say, econ304).
-Tim (not that one)
Urbangreen, Then you would really want to be able to have journal articles cataloged in some way. In fact, that would be awesome. I've been looking for somewhere to make a wishlist or a del.icio.us like list of articles that I want to read or have read (with tags so when I go back to write a paper about something I look them up). I've tried CiteULike, but it just doesn't capture the imagination the way LibraryThing does! As far as books go that does sound like a good idea.
I'd be interested to know more about what you think of CiteULike and how LT could surpass it's article-cataloging features.
Katissima, thanks for the citeulike mention. I've been meaning to check out options in and around the "endnote" world and for some reason had missed that.
I'm kind of hoping for a solid open-source solution. One could almost get away with some existing Firefox add-ins like Scrapbook or Diigo...
I need to make a note to mess around a bit and see what's out there and what will work with LT.
Of course, maybe I should wait in case Tim has some tricks up his sleeve.
I haven't tried EndNote or Refworks. I work in a library though, and I work with serials, so sometimes I feel guilty about reading too much Doctor Who news when there is so much potentially enlightening material at my fingertips. So then I go and cruise around the online journal indexes, and I really wanted something that would pull out a citation and store it in an online account. I don't want to manually type out the citation mind you--I am way too lazy for that! So, based on my criteria here is what I have to say about CiteULike:
I like the concept, and I like their Post to CiteULike bookmarklet. However, there site is very science centered, and I only saw two resources in their compatibility list that included humanities. The admin does have the resources on the page so that people can take the bookmarklet and make it work with other resources, and then he will add it to the list.
I know that it is much more complicated, but I wish it just worked with everything like my del.icio.us bookmarklet. The fiance says that it is based on how people code their html. On pages where they use the right tags, you could pull a citation from anything, but if they tag citations like everything else, you can't.
Anyway, this is not the most detailed well-reasoned review of CiteULike, but there you go. Bottom line, Tim. I just want it to work :)
PS. Tim, you might want to talk to the CiteULike guy. From the information page, it seems that the only way he is still able to run the site is because he is getting funding and free server space from his university.
I mentioned this on another thread, but I think it's probably more relevant to the discussion here so I'll say it again.
One citation management system that you might want to look at connecting to LT is Zotero. I think it's Firefox compatible only at the moment, but it doesn't seem like it would take much to get the LT system to work with theirs and it's really a fantastic tool that lets you capture citation information for books, journals, web pages, and a whole list of other types of information and export it in a variety of ways and formats.
(urbangreen - this sounds like it might be just the sort of thing that you were talking about in your post)
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