BiblioCommons and ‘following’ other users

CoverIf you have a favourite book, author or genre and would like something similar, you might want to ‘follow’ another BiblioCommons user who has similar tastes to you.

Click on the catalogue record of an item you like, for example Mister Pip and scroll down to Community Activity. Here you will see ‘Comments, Summaries, Quotes, Notices, Age, Videos’. Click on ‘Comments’, or any other heading that someone has added to, then click on a username to see other titles on that person’s ‘completed shelf’.

If you want to ‘follow’ another user, click on the green ‘+’ below the main red heading. You can choose to ‘follow’ everything, or just certain types of items.

If you choose to make items on your own shelves public, other people will be able to follow you also.

For more info on ‘following’, check the FAQ panel to the right of a user’s ‘completed shelf’ page.

Ruth Wilkins
Hornby Library

Best of both worlds with BiblioCommons

One of the best and most innovative features of BiblioCommons is the way in which it increases the success rate of searches by bringing together LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) and user tags.

The use of subject headings and tags has often been seen as an either/or situation, and there is undeniably tension between the “official” library-sanctioned terms which cataloguers use to describe books and the words which Joe and Jane Public may prefer. However both subject headings and tags have advantages and drawbacks. By aggregating the two, BiblioCommons offers users the best of both worlds.

The following articles outline some of the ways in which tags can increase the chances of users (and staff!) identifying resources which they may be interested in.

And if you are too rushed to read the articles (yes, the second one is a bit long!), here are my very condensed “Coles” notes:

  • Increasing numbers of people are comfortable with the concept of using tags – they are everywhere on the web (Facebook, YouTube, Flickr…)
  • Adding tags to the catalogue is an easy first step towards greater engagement and contribution by users to the library website
  • Tags can describe aspects of resources that LCSH ignore, such as tone and theme. They also reflect better the way we speak and can accommodate new trends (e.g. steampunk)
  • Cataloguers assign subject headings without having read the book in its entirety, whereas users usually tag items after they have read them.
  • Tags lack precision and structure however and can be very basic (e.g. a book on Rwanda’s civil war may simply be tagged as “non-fiction” and “Africa”.)
  • Many tags are of only personal interest (“yet to read”, “present”)
  • Cataloguers select subject headings that summarise the main subject of the item being catalogued, whereas readers’ tags may identify a very specific, and perhaps minor, aspect of the resource. (This of course is both a plus and a minus)
  • Items are on average assigned only 3-4 subject headings, but tags are usually far more numerous – hence by combining tags and LCSH catalogues are far richer in content.

Just a final point, if this has inspired you to go out and tag:

“User-generated content added to a title is immediately visible, but may take up to 20 minutes to be searchable, because it needs to be indexed. For example, a tag added to a title will appear on the title record immediately, but a search using that tag will not immediately return the title.”….more

Vanessa Tedesco
Upper Riccarton Library

A rose by any other name … a quick BiblioCommons tip

One of BiblioCommons’ user-friendly features is the fact that people can select a username to log in to the site, rather than having to remember their card number.

Of course, if you are indecisive like me, you may find yourself pondering a while to select the perfect virtual alter-ego. But fear not – if you don’t like your initial choice, you can always change it by logging in and selecting Account Settings in My CCL:

And, again, if you are like me, you may forget which particular username you eventually settled on. Once more, the solution is easy; log in using your card number and go back to Account Settings to refresh your memory.

For more information about usernames, see the FAQs in BiblioCommons itself.

Vanessa Tedesco
Upper Riccarton Library

The joy of tagging with BiblioCommons

One of my bugbears is that non-fiction books published in the ‘old days’ don’t have indexes. This means that we only have the catalogue record to describe the work, and maybe chapter headings inside the book to give us any idea about the book’s contents. If you have a thing for New Zealand history or family history this can be a little irritating. Does this book mention people or places that I want to know about? You won’t know until you read the book. Hence the joy of tagging.

Here is one I prepared earlier: Mythology and Traditions of the Māori by Rev. J.F.H.Wohlers published in 1875. Check the catalogue description and then look at the tags that I have added. You can see the greater variety of information covered with the tags. As one of my colleagues commented “that looks interesting enough to read”.

When you do a keyword search in BiblioCommons it will search the tags as well. If you are searching for information about preparing a hangi, this booklet will now appear in the search results.

All tags appear in lower case so people and place names won’t have capital letters.

So go forth and tag and make those obscure publications accessible.

You can also gain community credits. I earned one for adding tags to that item. For those of a competitive nature this is a good way to encourage our library community to tag, make lists or review books. Some libraries that are using BiblioCommons use Community Credits to reward customers.

Leonie Miller
Upper Riccarton

Lists on BiblioCommons

Here are my thoughts on lists, my favourite aspect of BiblioCommons!

A handy tip if you are into the lists is that you can change the drop down box from ‘keyword’ to ‘list’ and search for lists of your interest. For example if you search for Sci-Fi lists you get 9 pages of lists to browse at your leisure.

The other way to find lists is to open the record of any book and the lists it is linked to are found in the column on the right titled “Lists that include this title”. Who would have guessed that George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is on the list of “Books Read By Tupac” (I wonder if he mentions it in any of his songs?!).

If you find a list that you particularly like you can click the list creator’s name and see their shelves and other lists they may have created. You can also follow the user which means that when they rate a book 4 stars or more it will appear in your Recommendations page (Explore Menu – Recommendations). Further, you can choose to follow only certain genres or tags but this feature is not operational for me at this point in time.

When you are creating lists it’s good to know you can go back and rename them at a later date.

You also have control over the location of users who can see your list – currently Everywhere, New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, and Your Library System plus there’s a tick box so you can have private lists.

Dan Donnell
Upper Riccarton Library