Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Narrating the library catalogue revisited

This post emerges as reflection on discussions with various persons about the library's reader advisory services and how the OPAC can help in this process. If you have been following this blog for a while, you will recall that I have been working on papers as well as presentations on how one can narrate (or use storytelling techniques) to present OPAC results. From the varied interactions with persons on this subject, my thoughts on this subject matter has evolved considerably.

A fellow PhD, after attending a presentation on my thoughts on the idea of using storytelling in the OPAC, mentioned to me that  many catalogues are adding readers' recommendations and advisories. For example, she noted Toronto Public library, sending me this example. She further suggested that by using readers' recommendations and advisories, librarians do not have to be responsible for the content; instead the content will be supplied by the system and the users or readers that generate it. She further pointed out that summaries and reviews incorporated in OPACs can be retrieved from APIs (e.g., Amazon, or some other sites). I have also personally attested to this myself in a previous blog posting, whereby using readers' reviews from goodreads.com, I was able to construct some picture of what a particular book was about. The same is true for Amazon.

In these cases, user generated reviews, stories or narratives about what a book or document is about, are already to some extent being incorporated into library OPACs  as alternatives information sources to inform or signal to other readers the potential content one can expect to find in a book. This is important, because for some books, like graphic novels, one needs to be made aware in advance, what one might see (or not see). However, I will get back to this point in another post, in which I hope to tackle graphic novels in libraries as a separate reflection.

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