Digital Odyssey 2006

Creating the Future Together

Build it: But How to Make Them Come?

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 21, 2006

Build it—But How to Make Them Come?

Beth Jefferson, founder Bibliocommons

Note taker: K. Mogg

(Due to technical errors which impacted time constraints, this presentation was delivered in a slightly condensed form).

Discovery (in Libraries):

  • not enough just to have content; content must be brought to users, users to content
  • discovery a large part of library experience; reader advisory
  • importance of serendipitous retrieval -importance of browsing
  • browsing as a process is missing during electronic transactions; but electronic browsing has surpassed other methods
  • media techniques, ipods change methods; particularly the reduction of complexity

(Summary of various graphs and charts comparing High vs. Low frequency remote users of OPAC’s)

  • three times a week or more; prediction for all users soon
  • average visit to library shorter; average 15 minutes
  • how are books selected in this context?  Higher incidence of book and video store displays, online reviews
  • how frequently do you visit an online book store?
  • compare online book stores with libraries
  • library experience is much less satisfactory for high frequency users
  • need to change libraries
  • tendency to browse vs. pre-select; low frequency OPAC browsers use more pre-select
  • where do titles come from?  Audio book sites, TV, etc
  • online sites: help with searching, discovery, etc—back to library to find cheap sources (are materials available in catalogue?)

“Cataloguing News”—Deanna Marcus, Cataloguing Quarterly

  • “Why not let Google serve as (y)our library catalogue?”

Why Not to use Google (etc.) as a library catalogue:

  • what are you in business for?
  • can’t take models from large publishing companies with advertising/marketing  and spin- off product deals
  • options on a large commercial web site (ie. Amazon or Chapters) impacts what you discover.
  • here, the discover is limited to bestsellers; not an infinite variety of choice but rather a narrowing of choice
  • Amazon: not an effective discovery tool; websites programmed to generate more titles for online customers, ie.  “customers who like this book also bought…”—this in turn used to flog more and more bestsellers
  • this will kill libraries
  • definition of ‘best-selling’—can be many things.  On Amazon this is generally temporal/ephemeral– Google’s ‘most popular’ rankings are similar
  • not so with libraries

Why this matters to libraries:

  • maintain relevancy for patrons–.as more people ask for best sellers
  • demand for “new”
  • huge holds lists for best sellers; how does this impact patron satisfaction?
  • Amazon: controls experience; uses own staff reviewers—maybe librarians can do this as well?

Clay Shirky:  “Power laws, Weblogs, and Inequality”; ‘distribution of demand’;

  • mid-list books—challenged in terms of getting noticed; handful of titles accounts for most sales
  • in contrast, Netflix—allows for browsing for selection
  • desire to circulate all titles and give customers help making a choice; customers are presented with possibilities, even older movies
  • offering alternatives, multiple ways into collection

What is Needed:

  1. expert to P2P
  2. semantic to social
  3. Less is more
  • collocation: in social context; people don’t choose novels because of subjects
  • The question remains: how to find ‘books like…’ in library catalogue? ie Oprah; where to find books like the last one we liked and read
  • very relevant for fiction, but other genres as well
  • how to do this in a library environment: best not to do this in a ‘between patron to institution’ format, rather patron to patron
  • how can we connect one person to another person with similar likes?
  • Library Thing—ie Harry Potter; first generation tagging;  use of descriptive tools, and the capacity to navigate descriptive tools (other readers who have tagged certain books as “dark” or “magic” etc; )
  • “sharing will be everywhere”
  • soon to spread all over web; Google, yahoo
  • “social network as filter”
  • MySpace—takes this to an extreme

How can this benefit libraries?  If Myspace has 42 million ‘ever registered” globally, libraries have 150 million plus users: North America; use this model; expand potential

Those who use the OPAC: use it a lot; more frequency than Amazon

  • patrons: as evinced from conducted study, show good will and will participate in submitting reviews to a library, including teens. Older adults much more so, since social networks not as open to older adults;
  • participation: not tied in to making people buy, as on Amazon
  • how people discover materials: browsing materials; fast lane/new; return cart; then after this: library displays down to staff advice
  • how do we make entire collection relevant to users?


Libraries built in time of scarcity; now, time of abundance: how will hearts and minds be won?  By those who help us discover less that is more relevant, and by those who make the process fun.


2 Responses to “Build it: But How to Make Them Come?”

  1. […] Digital Odyssey 2006 » Blog Archive » Build it: But How to Make Them Come? (tags: netspeed2006) […]

  2. […] Mark Nottingham’s RSS Tutorial helped to clarify my limited understanding of the many forms of RSS as well as Atom. It seems as more corporate vendors incorporate these capabilities, the use of Atom – as it is a standard – will continue to increase. I was also intrigued with Nottingham’s reference to NetFlix. Earlier this year I attended OLITA’s Digital Odyssey conference where Beth Jefferson used NetFlix as an example of what libraries should be doing. She said that rather than simply providing users with lists of the newest books we should also promote older titles in any number of genres. She argued that libraries don’t need to promote the new books as there are already extensive waiting lists for these titles. Rather than frustrate patrons by telling them about books that aren’t currently on the shelves, we should promote those items that aren’t currently generating the use statistics that they should. Providing RSS feeds solely about new additions to the collections, often results in increased demand and limited supply, while other great books just sit on the shelves. Posted by Colleen Filed in RSS […]

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