We’ve recently launched a small collection of book records on the library catalogue that offer library users to add comments, reviews and recommendations. Our clever systems librarian Laurence has hooked up the collection to a wiki, where users can leave comments which are then fed back into the catalogue.
We did a lot of thinking about this, with issues like moderation, risk management, the authority of the catalogue, seeding the conversation and more to be decided on. The collection itself, called ‘Around the world in 80+ books’ is a selection of world literature, chosen by our international students and staff so already it’s very personal. By adding a comments function to the catalogue records, we’re hoping to gather thoughts or conversations. For example, I chose the Australian book selection which includes Dirt Music by Tim Winton, A True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey and Down Under by Bill Bryson – but just a flamin’ minute mate, Bryson isn’t Australian? Well, no, but Down Under is a really good reflection on Oz, and on Aussies.. IMHO. I’d welcome a bit of controversy to say there are better choices.. but that’s all part of the process.
Since this is just baby steps for us, only University of Bath users can log into read comments (safe for moderation purposes), but I believe they can be read by anyone who access the catalogue record.
Is there any point offering a comments function on the repository? As much as I value the communication benefits provided by comments, my presumption is that people will still operate by email should they want to comment on a pre-print – actually I’d like to find out whether any repository managers have heard of whether pre-prints do actually garner much interest or response from peers of the author? Sounds good in theory but does it happen?
Anyway, we’ll wait to see what happens with the catalogue reviews. My manager Kate and I are presenting on this next week at the Libraries Without Walls Conference (which *unfortunately* happens to be in Molyvos, on the Aegean Island of Lesvos, Greece – what a sacrifice!). The written report with the discussions behind our decisions will be in the conference papers. I’ll put the powerpoint up on Slideshare soon-ish.