The University of Chicago: Tagging

April 9, 2012

The University of Chicago library is another academic library that supports tagging of its collection.  This library uses AquaBrowser  which includes the My Discoveries tool.  My Discoveries enables users to tag and rate library resources, and also write reviews.  The tags, ratings or reviews that a user creates can either remain private or be made public so that all library users can see them.   To make this user-added information public takes roughly a day, according to the My Discoveries tool.

The My Discoveries tool is built right in to the library catalogue, and can be accessed in two places.  One can click the “My Discoveries” link in the top right hand corner, or select the “Save or Tag” link just below.  The tool is, therefore, quite easy to locate, but it is not overtly advertised.

Using the My Discoveries tool is very simple.  At the University of Chicago Library’s website, My Discoveries is not limited to those affiliated with the library. Anyone is able to create a My Discoveries account on the library’s website.  I created an account to see how the tool works.  After an account has been created, users can simply click on the “save or tag” link and a simple fill-in form for tags, ratings and reviews appears on the page.  Users can then view their resource lists, tags, ratings and reviews by clicking on their user name in the top right hand corner of the screen.  I believe that for first time users, this tool would be quite easy to use.

The tags created by the My Discover tool give another dimension to the library catalogue records.  The tags function as a further description for a given work.  When one hovers over a tag in a record, the number of times that the item has been tagged with that term appears.  If an item has been tagged multiple times with a certain term, it suggests that the item is most likely more “about” that term than other tags that appear with less frequency.   I would certainly use this tool to help me evaluate resources if I were a patron of the University of Chicago library.

I was unable to find one review or rating written by a user about an item in the library’s collection.  I searched through a great many records and did not find any.   I am not sure if this is because few users actually share their reviews and ratings, or if I was just unlucky in the records I chose to search.  What I did find was links to Google Books reviews, which would be somewhat helpful to a user trying to evaluate a resource.  One possible change I could suggest for the University of Chicago Library is to include a way of ordering search results by highest rated or most discussed.


University of Pennsylvania: Tagging

April 8, 2012

In the July 2009 issue of The Journal Of Academic Librarianship, Xu, Chu and Ouyang note that tagging is among the least used web 2.0 application in academic libraries, despite the fact that it is one of the most popular web 2.0 application among library users.   While I looked through various academic library websites, I certainly found this to be the case.  All of the university library websites I have visited while conducting my (admittedly somewhat limited) research contain an instant messaging application. Most sites also have Facebook and Twitter, but I was only able to locate a few university libraries that had some kind of tagging application. In this entry, I will be discussing the University of Pennsylvania’s social bookmarking application.

The University of Pennsylvania’s own social bookmarking system uses the Penntags bookmarklet.  I was unable to use this feature because I am not a student at the university, but the Penntags instructions page provides information on how the bookmarklet works.  With the bookmarklet, a user can tag a website or online library resources and that tag is then shared with the Penntags site.  On the Penntags site itself, a user can search through resources tagged by other users.

I found the Penntags page very difficult to find.  I initially discovered that the University of Pennsylvania’s library had a tagging feature by reading Nichole Ackerman’s course webpage on social bookmarking in academic libraries.  If I had not already known about the tagging feature before entering the University of Pennsylvania library’s website, I likely would never have found it on the homepage.  Initially, I used the library website’s search bar to locate the Penntags site.  I then found that the site could also be accessed through the “Browser Tools Support” link on the bottom right of the page.  I believe that Penntags would certainly be improved if it was easier to find, but it may be that University of Pennsylvania students are made aware of this application through other means.

I was unable to use the Penntags bookmarklet because I am not a student of the university, but the instructions page makes it seem that the bookmarklet is a pretty easy tool to use.  The Penntags site itself  is quite intuitive and easy to use.  Items can be searched by tags in the search bar.  Collections of materials can also be viewed by project, which is a collection of bookmarks for a user’s specific project, or by user.

Librarians at the University of Pennsylvania have effectively integrated the Penntags tool with other services they offer.  As Nicole Engard notes in her blog post on Penntags, reference librarians at the University of Pennsylvania use Penntags to create on-demand resource guides by creating a project, adding links to it, and sending the url to the user.  Penntags also grants users the ability to add tags and annotations to the library catalogue as can be seen in this record.

I think that Penntags is an enormously useful tool for students conducting research.  Viewing resources by project enables users to see a list of resources all related to a similar topic in one place.  I think it would be a great starting place for research and one that I would use often if I were a patron of the University of Pennsylvania’s library.  Another useful feature of Penntags are the annotations that can be added to each resource.  These annotations would be very useful when selecting resources.