Web 2.0 Success Story

Just thought I would share with you this interesting story from Dr. John Jaeger, Reference Librarian at Dalla Baptist University:

One of our librarians, Scott Jeffries, shared this success story related to using LibraryThing.  I thought you might like to see it as well.

Last Friday, I received a call at the reference desk from a student looking for a book. The problem was that this student did not know the title of the book or the author. All she could tell me was the book was a collection of letters between a London antiquities dealer and an American writer and that they discussed literature and building a collection. I made a couple of rudimentary attempts while she was on the phone but I was getting no where. I told her that I would have to call her back after I searched a little more. I thought this might take some time but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to locate this book. 

Here were some of the terms I punched into Google and Amazon to try to locate the book – London literature antiques dealer collection writing letter. All of these terms will trigger many results dealing with antiques and shops and purchasing and dealing but I was getting no where near a book that resembled the one I was looking for. The closest I got was a book called Letters from London but this was not the correct book. My search in WorldCat was giving me incorrect results as well. I was getting frustrated and was about ready to call this student to let her know that I couldn’t distinguish which book she was looking for until I thought I would try one more thing.

My search experiences with LibraryThing have been good (quick and accurate results). Still, those experiences had been with books that I knew the title or author. What could I do in LibraryThing to locate the book? On the search page, they have a way to search for tags. I suddenly realized that if you were going to tag this book you would use some of the terms that I had been using with no luck in Google. So I tried the tag string of London, letters, literature, New York, classics. Their tagmash search feature (it can take several minutes) gave me as a first option the book 84, Charing Cross Road  by Helene Hanff. The reviews and descriptions of the book identified the book as the one I was looking for.

By being a LibraryThing user and being accustomed to tagging things I could easily put myself in the shoes of someone who would inventory this particular book. I simply chose the terms that I thought they would use to tag this book and I found the book.

 This is a perfect example of the social aspect of finding information. Whenever someone tagged this book they were wanting to describe the book so they could locate it later and maybe they had a thought to how other people might discover the information as well. This was a Web 2.0 success story.


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