Wikis

I really like the idea of using wikis to annotate the library catalogue, as discussed by Meredith Farkas in Using Wikis to create online communities.

She writes:

Most library catalogs only contain the most basic information on books.  They have the elements that go into a MARC record: title, subject(s), author, year published, etc.  When patrons go into an online catalog, they probably won’t know if what they’ve found is the sort of book they’re looking for until they pull it off the shelf.  When users go onto Amazon.com, they will find a book synopsis, cover art, and reviews from people who have already read the book.  This extra content helps people to get a better sense of whether the book will meet their needs.  Why can’t we do that same at libraries?  Adding wiki functionality to the catalog would allow users to post synopses and reviews for books they’ve already read.  We can capitalize on the reading experiences of our patrons in order to help them make informed reading decisions from the library catalog

I would really like to see a library catalogue where users have input as well as just us cataloguers. While we don’t read every book we catalogue, library patrons who do read the items could then tag the books with subject headings and write reviews for others to read.

I am a little bit hesitant about wikis because of the fact that anyone can change them – I think there is a need for things to be edited – but as seen with Wikipedia, it can  work. The collective knowledge of people who read the entries can be used to keep things in check. At least in theory…

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