Electronic Resources Coordinator
San Francisco State University
Web 2.0 theorists argue that Internet technologies now allow us to harness the “Wisdom of the Crowd” in unprecedented ways. “Folksonomies,” which use the judgment of the crowd to organize documents, have worked extremely well on popular Web 2.0 sites such as Flickr, del.icio.ous, and LibraryThing. By collecting and analyzing the private descriptions — the tags — that users add to their own photos, URLs, and books, these sites generate valuable metadata about public documents and resources.
Although libraries have intelligent and dedicated patrons, traditional library online public access catalogs (OPACs) lack mechanisms for collecting the knowledge of library patrons. Library systems vendors have tried to develop ways of adding user-generated content to the catalog, but the user-base of any one library is too small to generate critical mass. However, by using the folksonomy created by LibraryThing users to add tags and recommendations to the catalog, libraries can overcome this obstacle. This project demonstrates that collective intelligence can add value to library records and illustrates how new technologies such as AJAX give us powerful means of combining library records with metadata created by other organizations.