In anticipation of the professional panel…

I’m deeply interested in the lived reality of attempting to change existing systems of information organization, especially at the metadata level.

What push-backs have you received?

What are tactics for guiding conversations forward when faced with push-back?

What does actionable progress look like?

Presently, what does the landscape of acquiring grant funding look like when it comes to access and discovery issues?

How do you balance equity concerns with the interests of the funding agencies (government and private)?

Where can we follow your ongoing projects?

What can we do to support you? *

This semester has taught me that issues of access and discoverability help perpetuate pre-existing systems of power within our society. At the heart of the inequity is the lack of diversity in librarianship.  

What are tactics that librarians can use to support and promote new voices in librarianship without tokenizing people?

*I was influenced to ask this thanks to Dr. Tressie McMillian Cottom’s and Dr. Roxane Gay’s podcast Hear to Slay Podcast. They ask this question to all the invited speakers, and prior to hearing it on Hear to Slay, I had never thought to ask it in spite of “What can we do to support you?” being an extremely important question.

References

Cottom, T.M. & Gay, R. (2019). Hear to Slay [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from: https://luminarypodcasts.com/listen/roxane-gay-and-dr-tressie-mcmillan-cottom/hear-to-slay/b52dbaee-2243-4230-ac20-8dc36ca6a453

The Cost of Collaboration, a meditation on librarian allies

According to Marina La Salle and Richard Hutchings (2018), collaboration is “colonial whitewash” that is “ultimately rooted in cooptation and dependence” that does little to actually “decolonize” the structures of power (p. 1). For them, when “collaboration is seen as the means and the end,” it ultimately results in “less power to Indigenous communities” (p. 12). Their arguments are persuasive, particularly if we are to assume that these digital projects are about the collaborative process and not the final product. It raises the question: Whose interests are being served?

Nicole Strathman

During this week’s reading, I was struck by Strathman’s (2019) article Digitizing Ancestors. Digitizing Ancestors examined five collaborative projects with indigenous communities (four resulting in functional databases and one whose funding ran out before the database came into fruition). Since these databases were constructed as part of Masters theses and PhD dissertations, they weren’t built to be sustained. Rather, they were just a jumping off point for these researcher’s careers. Strathman states, “the creation of a digital heritage program was part of their dissertation, and, like all good scholars, they would take the lessons learned, build on them, and move on to other projects.” I was personally taken aback at how casually Strathman states that the students involved in these projects just disregarded them. While this is an honest statement, I object to the descriptive of “good scholars.” The sacred cultural heritage of indigenous communities should not be left with stewards who aren’t committed to ensuring its survival, especially in an environment where digital preservation is tenacious at best.

Moreover, Strathman’s (2019) article left me questioning the ability and intention of allies. Throughout the years, I’ve found myself asking if those who do not belong to a marginalized community can genuinely be allies. Often, the actions of those who label themselves as allies do not match their intentions and mission statements. In the article, we see multiple graduate student researchers (Christen, Srinivasan, Shorter, Verran, Christie, Ridington, & Hennessy) take action to create or envision systems of organizing information that are better suited to indigenous cultures. These projects were done in collaboration with and with the permission of the indigenous communities. The problem with this situation is that the researchers were not personally connected and thereby committed to these projects. Once the funding ran out, and their degrees were completed, the databases were left untended. The technology, flash, became hackable and thus fell into disuse. With no researchers to update the database, they became less interactive (videos became stills) and, for some, completely unusable (Strathman, 2019). Call me optimistic, but it is difficult for me to imagine that an own-voices researcher would let the database fall into disrepair. This isn’t to say that I believe that the burden of fixing the system should be on indigenous and other marginal groups, but rather that those who are aware of the given issues and who are part of the dominant group should give communities the resources, platforms, and spaces back. Giving indigenous communities these databases, but not leaving with the tools to manage them, is an empty gesture. In class, we talked about how fragile digital repositories can be (Barone, Zeitlyn, Majer-Schönberger, 2015). What happens when communities lose entire collections to poor database management?

My opinions are compounded by the fact that I fall in the camp of intent doesn’t matter, if your actions are resulting in harm or contributing to continued marginalization. So what should librarians do? We all have biases that impact our ability to serve, and accurately perceive marginalized communities. Notably, white librarians like myself state that we want to improve conditions that our ancestors have created and society continues to uphold, but what actions are we willing to take to balance the scales? What privileges and power are we willing to part with? Are we honest with others and ourselves? Even for communities that I am a part of, I know I have internalized biases and -isms that impact the way I navigate my world.

I believe that Christie’s (2015) more recent work is a small step in the right direction as there more of an emphasis on indigenous youth being taught to manage the databases. Christie has also worked with lawyers to address the use of stolen objects, songs, and dances through the use of TK codes. In spite of her efforts, TK codes can not override the pre-existing property laws. Is that sufficient? What is sufficiency in light of what is owed? I believe that we should be teaching the youth of communities how to access and manage information, facilitating the acquisition of grants, teaching community members how to write grant proposals to fund database projects, and providing legal and financial support. In doing this, the actions of librarians like those in the “Digitizing Ancestors” article would read less like performative activism and, in the context of the funding climate in 2010, a grab for easy grant money.

References

Barone, F., Zeitlyn, D., & Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2015). Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing Web site. First Monday, 20(5). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i5.5852.

Christen, Kimberly. (2015). Tribal Archives, Traditional Knowledge, and Local Contexts: Why the “s” Matters,” Journal of Western Archives, 6(1). Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol6/iss1/

Strathman, N. (2019). Digitizing the Ancestors: Issues in Indigenous Digital Heritage Projects. International Journal of Communication, 13:3731-3738. Retrieved from: https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/8018/2748

Serendipitous Discovery through WorldCat’s Identity Network?

Bell (2014) wondered at how serendipitous discovery in libraries could be maintained now that physical collections are dwindling, and library collections are shifting to the digital setting. Maloney & Coney (2016) mentioned the possibility of designing for serendipitous discovery by developing algorithms and ways of recommending that help filter information without erasing that “a-ha” moment. In the May 2019 review of the various companies that offer ILSs (integrated library system) and LSPs (library services platform), one of the companies mentioned was OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). OCLC creates ILSs, which are less in vogue and have a lower overall chance of having a web-based interface than LSPs but cater to libraries’ needs and pre-existing systems (Breeding, 2019). During class on Monday, we were allowed to select various platforms to explore. While I didn’t choose WorldCat Identity for the in-class activity, I was intrigued by it as a source that could incorporate this idea of serendipitous discovery. WorldCat Identity utilizes linked data to connect different people. I decided to search two authors that I admire, Hanya Yanagihara and Rivers Solomon.

Visual Diagram of Relationship between Rivers Solomon and other writers

Initially, the search results excited me. Out of the linked identities, I only recognize four of the linked authors: Roxane Gay, Cristina Henriquez, Dina Nayeri, and Téa Obreht. The links between genre fiction and “literary fiction” are blurred at best for me, but I haven’t seen these authors paired together before.

List of how each entity (author) is related to the queried author (Rivers Solomon). The charts list their related works.

When looking at how Rivers Solomon connects to the other folks on this list, it became quickly apparent that they were all in an anthology, The Best American Short Stories edited by Roxane Gay (2018). On the one hand, this is great because you could get a sampling of several different authors through one text, but what if you had already read The Best American Short Stories? What if you were looking for a novel similar to Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts or to their novella similar to The Deep? Perhaps additional functionality like the inclusion of limiting filters. By narrowing the result not to include The Best American Short Stories, you could help diversify the overall results. Or is the function of linked identities to show authors who are tied to one another through shared texts? Hopefully, looking at Hanya Yanagihara’s entry will provide more insight. 

Visual Diagram of Relationship between Hanya Yanagihara and other writers

Off the bat, I don’t recognize any of these authors. While that does mean there is potential for discovering a lot of new authors, I would also like to see someone that I recognized as it would instill trust in the way that this data is linked.

When dialing into the results of the related works, the pattern we saw with Rivers Solomon holds. Works included as related works are either translated versions of Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees and A Little Life or works that she has co-authored or edited. 

From the examples above, I believe that Identity Linker is a tool that is best suited for researchers than the general public. While it might be useful to the general public to know what works have either been referenced or included the searched identity, that level of detail might be more helpful to researchers. Entries with a higher number of connections would elicit more interesting networks. These networks can be seen through the 100 identities, which are, unsurprisingly, mostly white and male. The trend of white and male creators mimics the biases of society and the history of silencing minority voices/promoting white supremacy.

Let’s look at Virginia Woolf, one of the top 100 identities. The identity connections between Virginia Woolf are more numerous and expansive. The authors listed are from many different periods; some are contemporary writers like Michael Cunningham and Djuna Barnes. Others are Virginia Woolf’s contemporaries like Katherine Mansfield, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce. Vanessa Bell (her sister) and her husband (Leonard Woolf) are also linked. Hogarth Press, the press that Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf created, is also included.

After exploring WorldCat Identity by myself, I decided to look at the OCLC Research site for more information on the tool. WorldCat Identity uses FRBR to pull from the general WorldCat metadata and create clusters of work written by From the OCLC research site, I’ve learned that WorldCat Identity has an entire for every name that appears in WorldCat. OCLC uses FRBR to pull from the WorldCat metadata to link works (including the variety of editions) written by a singular entity. WorldCat Identity is updated quarterly. Moreover, OCLC research explains that “[a] typical WorldCat Identities page will include a list of most widely held-by-libraries works by and about the identity, a list of variant forms of name the identity has been known by, a FAST tag cloud of places, topics, etc. closely related to works by and about the person, links to co-authors, and more” (WorldCat Identities, 2019).

Overall, the WorldCat Identity Network was not what I expected, but it is an interesting tool, nonetheless. I’d like to see a similar visual network that links WorldCat entries by themes and settings. This visual network may already exist, but I haven’t encountered it.

References

Bell, S. J. (2014). Collections are for collisions: design it into the experience. American Libraries, 45(9/10): 46-49. Retrieved from:

Breeding,  M. (2019). Library Systems Report 2019. Retrieved from:
https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/05/01/library-systems-report-2019/ 

WorldCat Identities. (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.oclc.org/research/themes/data-science/identities.html

Maloney, A.; Conrad, L. Y. (2016). Expecting the unexpected: Serendipity, discovery, and the scholarly research process. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing. Retrieved from: http://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/serrdiscovery.pdf

Solomon, Rivers. (2019). Retrieved from: http://experimental.worldcat.org/idnetwork/display.html?query=lccn-no2017130463

Solomon, R. (2017). An unkindness of ghosts. Brooklyn, New York: Akashic Books.

Solomon, R., Diggs, D., Hutson, W. & Snipes, J. (2019). The deep. New York: Saga Press.

Yanagihara, Hanya. (2019) Retrieved from: http://experimental.worldcat.org/idnetwork/display.html?query=lccn-nb2001075052

Yanagihara, H. (2015). A little life : a novel. New York: Doubleday.

Yanagihara, H. (2013). The people in the trees. New York: Doubleday.

In which a GoodReads’ User explores LibraryThing

In preparation for next week’s LibraryThing in-class workshop, I’ve decided to use this learning journal entry to explore LibraryThing and to try to apply principles of information organization. I’m especially intrigued to see if it makes use of linked data, item vs. work concept, and how LibraryThing functions as a database. The tagline of LibraryThing, “Catalog Your Books Online,” leaves the impression that the tagging interface for texts on GoodReads will be comprehensive and that certain functionalities may be more interlinked as with OCLCs. An added nuance will be my history with GoodReads. I’ve been using GoodReads on and off since 2011. For better or worse, I have some preferential bias as I have already made an active community of friends and familiarity. I wanted to acknowledge my bias, while also stating that I’ve been unhappy with a lot of Amazon-acquisition drive changes.

I’m going to start my project by taking importing my GoodReads library into LibraryThing from one interface to another. Immediately, the system prompted me on titles that were missing ISBNs and asked me what resources I wanted to use to search for my titles (Amazon.com, WorldCat, LOC). The breadth of LibraryThing’s search function to crosscheck information is impressive and helps fill data-gaps.

List of favorite books from 2018. This will be the list of books transferred to LibraryThing.

Let’s take a closer look at The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara. From the main page, we are given quite a bit of information. Immediately, the LibraryThing user is giving a numerical value for how many other users’ have The House of Impossible Beauties on their shelves. GoodReads gives the number of ratings and provides many reviews, but doesn’t include information for how many users have put the text on their shelves. This information could be guessed at by looking at the top shelves (GoodRead’s tagging system) and through the number of ratings, but this isn’t an accurate method. LibraryThing also has a more straightforward method of ensuring that the user finds the correct manifestation (Tillett, 2003) of the work. Selecting a different cover on the popular covers’ section and selecting information will confirm what format and ISBN that new cover may have. Switching to that edition is a matter of pressing the “choose this cover button” (The House, n.d.).

Main page for The House of Impossible Beauties on LibraryThing

LibraryThing has more of a concept for Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) (Tillett, 2003) in that it differentiates between the item (in LibraryThing’s system the Book) and the work. In the work portion of the LibraryThing entry, you are given more generalized, catalog centric information. The title, amount of members shelving the text, number of ISBNs associated with the text, the text’s popularity amongst other LibraryThing users, DDC/MDS (Melvil Decimal System) number, and the original language of the text. Here, one can also find the Library of Congress classification and the Library of Congress Subject Heading.

Work details page of The House of Impossible Beauties on LibraryThing

The Book entry in The House of Impossible Beauties is intended to represent the user’s actual book. There are fields for more expect book data points like title, author, rating, media, publication date, publication, and ISBN. Some attributes, like the physical description field and item comments, allow the user to personalize the book entry. The physical description on GoodReads is limited to the information entered on the original manifestation entry into GoodReads. The LibraryThing book-entry also includes a date acquired field, which GoodReads neglects to do.

Book details of The House of Impossible Beauties when in user edit mode.

The Book entry in The House of Impossible Beauties is intended to represent the user’s actual book. There are fields for more expect book data points like title, author, rating, media, publication date, publication, and ISBN. Some attributes, like the physical description field and item comments, allow the user to personalize the book entry. The physical description on GoodReads is limited to the information entered on the original manifestation entry into GoodReads. The LibraryThing book-entry also includes a date acquired field, which GoodReads neglects to do.

Conversations page of The House of Impossible Beauties.

The clear separation between the work and the item leads one to think that LibraryThing has more of a database step up. Every user (entity) has a relationship (has shelved) an item (book) that was created by the author (another entity) (Harrington, 2009). The author’s relationship to the item is that of creating it. The different users on the LibraryThing website can have book-specific conversations with one another, which creates another relationship between the users and the book.

LibraryThing allows users to contribute tags to publications. These tags, if utilized by enough users, feed into the main page. Any given entity’s (user’s) tags go into their TagClouds. Other users are able to see what tags folks have used for their books in the Tag Mirror.

Overall, LibraryThing is a useful interface for cataloging one’s shelves. It has many capabilities for those with small libraries, including a TinyCat OCLC, for those who may want to start micro-community libraries or have an OCLC for their own shelves. The website itself is less user-friendly than GoodReads and has less easily found social networking functions, but it’s statistics and organization features are far superior.

References

Harrington, Jan L.(2016). Relational database design and implementation clearly explained (Fourth Edition) Amsterdam; Morgan Kaufmann/Elsevier.

Favorites of 2018. (2019). In GoodReads. Retrieved from: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5883786-sarah?shelf=favorites-of-2018

Tillett, B. (2003). What is FRBR? A conceptual model for the bibliographic universe. Retrieved from: http://www.loc.gov/cds/downloads/FRBR.PDF.

TinyCat. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.librarycat.org/

The House of Impossible Beauties. (2019). In LibraryThing. Retrieved from: https://www.librarything.com/work/20935787/book/174987095

A Mid-Semester Retrospective

It’s been a little over two months since I started my MLIS degree at the iSchool, and I have more questions than ever. In spite of feeling full of questions, I have discovered an avenue of librarianship that intrigues me. During week 2, I was introduced to Briet’s perspective, where documents include the unexpected, such as live animals being observed by humans. To Briet, anything that documents humanity, whether it be in a traditional paper/stone format or not, is considered a document (Buckland, 1997). By extending the definition of what a document is, of what information is, also impacts users and access. It impacts users as the massive influx in information may cause users to feel overwhelmed and become unable to filter through all the information thrown their way. Information overload negatively impacts information literacy and users’ ability to absorb information (Bawden, 2009). Why am I mentioning this since I didn’t write about it in any of my learning journals? Well, understanding what impacts patrons’ ability to access and absorb information ties well into the overall themes that I have been exploring. Those themes are accessibility (through discoverability of resources and through accessing titles for folks from minority groups) and the sustainability of digital texts. Sustainability of digital texts ties into access because if the information stored in a digital format is as vulnerable to disappearing as those explored in class (Barone, 2009), then that information is at risk of not being accessible to the users of the future.

My first learning journal looked at the availability of Latinx texts (pulled from BookieCharm’s 2019 Latinx recommendation list) across two library platforms: hoopla digital and overdrive. I first considered the discoverability after reading Spencer’s (2019) “Creating a Culture of Use”. Generally, I like to explore concepts by applying them to projects. An aspect that I hadn’t examined in my learning journal, which could be a way of measuring use, is to look at the amount of holds/wait period. I also didn’t realize that, when I was trying to look at the steps that my local library had taken to inform users of the library’s electronic features, I was looking at a LibGuide.

I explored measures being taken to steward (Sheffield, 2016) and preserve digital information (Houghton, 2016) in my second learning journal. I also began questioning what measures were being taken to decide what was worth persevering and what was not worth persevering. How much time is being taken to consider each piece of information (Teper, 2014), and perhaps more importantly, who is making those decisions? What is their frame of reference for making decisions on what to digitize? How do they decide what items to digitize when weeding to reduce their physical collection to allow for more community spaces (Barbakoff, 2017)? Could there be a push for workshops and further daily self-education to help us as librarians to identify our biases for better stewardship of the information we have access to and to better propagate that material, when appropriate?

The impact of bias on information access and retrieval is a topic that has concerned and continues to concern me. Before starting graduate school, I believed that social media could be a way for libraries could better connect with the communities that they serve and better understand what our communities want and need. I also viewed social media space as a place to make users aware of library services that they might not initially expect. When week 6 began discussing metadata, I became very interested in explorations of tagging. At first, I wasn’t sure if tagging would be included under the umbrella of metadata. Pomerantz (2015) article helped me understand how all-surround and impactful metadata is our everyday lives, but Elings (2007) showed me how metadata doesn’t always take the same format depending on the type of institution. While this may seem like something intuitive, it wasn’t for me. I’m still wrapping my mind around the concept of metadata, and this curiosity is what has driven me to focus two learning journals (3 & 4) around it.

The impact of bias on information access and retrieval is a topic that has concerned and continues to concern me. Before starting graduate school, I believed that social media could be a way for libraries could better connect with the communities that they serve and better understand what our communities want and need. I also viewed social media space as a place to make users aware of library services that they might not initially expect. When week 6 began discussing metadata, I became very interested in explorations of tagging. At first, I wasn’t sure if tagging would be included under the umbrella of metadata. Pomerantz (2015) article helped me understand how all-surround and impactful metadata is our everyday lives, but Elings (2007) showed me how metadata doesn’t always take the same format depending on the type of institution. While this may seem like something intuitive, it wasn’t for me. I’m still wrapping my mind around the concept of metadata, and this curiosity is what has driven me to focus two learning journals (3 & 4) around it.

Both of these journals centered around the idea that user-generated tags, could potentially address where the traditionally controlled vocabulary has some inherent biases and gaps in access points. Some of these biases were discussed in week 8’s reading. Adler’s (2017) article examined the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSHs) being born out of the 19th century, where discussion of eugenics and sterilization of disabled folks were commonplace. Howard’s (2018) article pointed out the racist placement of LCSHs and the limited amount of subject headings concerning African Americans. Howard (2018) also examined the limited amount of LCSHs concerning LGBTQ+ texts.

In journal 3, I sought to understand better there was research on user-tags compared to a more traditional controlled vocabulary. I was able to locate an article that compared LCSHs to LibraryThing user tags (DeZelar-Tiedman, 2011). Both DeZelar-Tiedman and Rafferty (2018), point out that the greater the number of user-generated tags, the more reliable the tags. Gross (2016) pointed out the many flaws of eliminating controlled vocabluary and stated that user-generated tags have many redundancies (personal tags, spelling errors). Having read the Gross (2016) and Hedden, I wanted to take a closer look at user-generated tags. Having seen book-related tags on Instagram and different “shelf” tags on GoodReads, I decided to compare them to the LCSHs. For one reason or the other, hands-on activities like the GoodReads to Instagram to LCSHs comparison of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi and Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds help me absorb information.

Moving forward, I’d like to look at more examples of metadata in action. I’m finding myself gravitating more and more toward information organization and cataloging. I want to understand the pre-existing framework that has been used to organize information. I also want to learn about alternative systems of organizations, like Mukurtu CMS (Christen, 2017). Understanding metadata is crucial as our daily lives become increasingly digital and as the information we receive becomes increasingly filtered depending on how we query the system and based on our pre-existing preferences and biases, however unacknowledged.

References

Barbakoff, A. (2017). Balancing connections and collections. Library Journal. September 15. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=balancing-connections-collections-library-design.

Barone, F.; Zeitlyn, D.; Majer-Schönberger, V. (2015). Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing website. First Monday 20(5). Retrieved from: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5852/4456

Bawden, D.; Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: Overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science 35(2): 180-191. 

Buckland, M. K. (1997). “What is a “document”? Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48(9): 804-809. Retrieved from: http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/whatdoc.html

Charm, B. (2019, August 25). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oS3rSAM9_M

Christen, K. (2017, July 13). We have never been neutral: Search, discovery, and the politics of access. OCLC Distinguished Seminar Series. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/rMd6-IS3cmU

Connaway, L. S.; Powell, R. R. (2010). Chapter 3. Selecting the research method. In Basic Research Methods for Librarians. 5th ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 71-106. 

DeZelar-Tiedman, C. (2011). Exploring user-contributed metadata’s potential to enhance access to literary works. Library Resources and Technical Services, 55 (4), 221-233. Retrieved from: https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-84860126184&doi=10.5860%2flrts.55n4.221&partnerID=40&md5=8ed263cd72a666e256b92c96be06901b

Elings, M. W.; Waibel, G. (2007). Metadata for all: Descriptive standards and metadata sharing across libraries, archives, and museums. First Monday 12(3). Retrieved from: http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1628/1543

Emezi, A. (2019). Pet (First ed.). New York: Make Me a World.

Gross, T.; Taylor, A. G.; Joudrey, D. N. (2015). Still a lot to lose: The role of controlled vocabulary in keyword searching. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53(1): 1-39.

Hedden, H. (2016). Chapter 1. What are taxonomies? The Accidental Taxonomist. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 16-32.

Houghton, B. (2016). Preservation challenges in the digital age. D-Lib Magazine 22(7/8). Retrieved from: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july16/houghton/07houghton.html

Howard, S. A.; Knowlton, S. A. (2018). Browsing through bias: The Library of Congress Classification and Subject Headings for African American studies and LGBTQIA studies. Library Trends 67(1): 74-88. 

Pomerantz, J. (2015). Chapter 1. Introduction. In: Metadata. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1-18. 

Rafferty, P. (2018). Tagging. Knowledge Organization 45(6): 500-516. 

Reynolds, J., Nabaum, A., & Reynolds, J. (2019). Look both ways : A tale told in ten blocks (First ed.). New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Sheffield, R. T. (2016). More than acid-free folders: extending the concept of preservation to include the stewardship of unexplored histories. Library Trends 64(3): 572-584. 

Spencer, K. (2019). Creating a culture of use. Against the Grain. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/31SEHol 

Teper, J. H. (2014). Selection for preservation: a survey of current practices in the field of preservation. Library Resources & Technical Services 58(4): 220-232. Retrieved from: http://www.library.illinois.edu.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/proxy/go.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswss&AN=000346756100002&site=eds-live&scope=site 

Comparison of LCSH, Instagram usertags, and GoodReads usertags

For this present learning journal, I would like to explore the differences and similarities in the LCSH, Instagram user-driven tags, and GoodReads user-driven tags. Similar comparative research has been done previously using other social media platforms. Rafferty (2018) has written a thorough and informative survey of the literature. The texts that I will select will be the shortlisted National Book Prize nominees. I initially want to do this for the fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, poetry, and young adult shortlists, but the timing of such a project does not work with my current schedule. Instead, I will be looking at the young adult shortlist as there is a strong presence of young adult readers on social media. Admittedly, these texts may not have as many tags as titles released before 2019, but I am hoping that the prize attention had more folks adding them to their shelves/to-be-read pile. Through this exploration, I hope to have a better grasp of LCSH, how professional indexers choose LCSH, and how that differs from users. I will be pulling the LCSH from my local libraries catalog, and then I will be comparing it to the top 30 non-personal (Hedden, 2016) tags on GoodReads. I selected the number 30 because this is what DeZelar-Tiedman (2011) used when comparing LCSH and LibraryThing. For Instagram, it will be somewhat more complicated as Instagram does not allow users to see the entirety of tags associated with a given hashtag. I think that for Instagram, due to time constraints, I will compare the tags related to the top ten posts.

The shortlist for the National Book Prize, Young Adult Fiction Portion

Immediately, I am aware that, even with just five texts, this may be more time consuming than I had anticipated. The number of redundancies in the GoodReads tags are far higher than I had expected, even after reading Gross’s (2015) paper. The distinction between a YA text and a middle-grade text seems lost on a lot of readers; some also include ya-mg as a tag. How does one know which tags to consider, and which to exclude?

I disregarded tags that had to do with format (audiobook, kindle, ebook, hardback, etc.). I also excluded multiple date-related tags, tags related to the appearance of the book, marketing-related tags, and tags that relate to the reader’s love of books. Oddly, for Look Both Ways, the tag middle-grade was tagged 50 times, whereas young adult was tagged 20 times.

Photos of top ten post tagged Awaeke Emezi that include photos of Pet

When I began looking at Instagram, the trends that I saw in the top 10 tags used on posts with Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet were not related to the book. Rather, they were related to the book community on Instagram, to book aesthetics, and to marketing pushes from the publisher. While it is arguable that the marketing post applicable, I chose not to look at them as they are less user-driven than publisher driven. There was also quite a bit of misinformation in regards to Emezi’s gender identity. Emezi is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. In certain tags, Emezi’s labeled as a black woman writer, and that is not their identity. Part of the trouble with Instagram is that it is part of a vast ecosystem, and there is no way to distinguish between posts related to a given book and posts that are related to other subjects that might use the #Pet subheading. If you search #AkwaekeEmezi, you are notified that there are 1,294 posts with this tag, but there is no way to differentiate being her different books and other posts featuring Emezi.

The GoodReads tags are more accurate. This accuracy may be the result of a higher number of users utilizing those tags, and in a way, verifying them.

When looking at the GoodReads and Instagram tags and comparing them to the LCSH, you can tell that the information conveyed by the LCSH has minimal overlap with the GoodReads/Instagram terms. The only overlap is young adult fiction and transgender people. The GoodReads/Instagram terms aren’t as specific as the LCSHs.

Look Both Ways top ten Instagram posts

I then took a look at the top ten #JasonReynolds Instagram posts that featured Look Both Ways. For one reason or another, the tags on these posted had more usable and consistent tags. There was less publishing marketing taglines on these posts as well.

The LCSHs in my library catalog for Look Both Ways isn’t as thorough as some of the other entries. It should be considered that the book isn’t available in any of the neighboring library systems, and has just been put on order in the capital’s library. Even considering this, the LCSHs are more detailed than the usertags. The most utilized tags were the ones who were put in the forfront, which is just replicating what is already happening in society.

The readings paired with this “experiment” has made me lean more towards an intermediary option. I don’t think that user tags should be discounted because I’m still hopeful that there is a way that tags could be used to broaden the existing discourses, but there needs to be some type of guidelines to make the information usable and findable.

References

DeZelar-Tiedman, C. (2011). Exploring user-contributed metadata’s potential to enhance access to literary works. Library Resources and Technical Services, 55 (4), 221-233. Retrieved from https://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-84860126184&doi=10.5860%2flrts.55n4.221&partnerID=40&md5=8ed263cd72a666e256b92c96be06901b

Emezi, A. (2019). Pet (First ed.). New York: Make Me a World.

Hedden, H. (2016). Chapter 1. What are taxonomies? The Accidental Taxonomist. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 16-32. Retrieved from http://www.library.uiuc.edu/proxy/go.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=390140

Juliano, L., & Srinivasan, R. (2012). Tagging it: Considering how ontologies limit the reading of identity. International Journal of Cultural Studies15(6), 615–627. Retrieved from https://doi-org.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/10.1177/1367877912451684

Nesset, V. (2018). Indexing databases for our users, not ourselves. The Indexer 36(3): 105-109. Retrieved from http://content.ebscohost.com/ContentServer.asp?EbscoContent=dGJyMNHX8kSep7A4zdnyOLCmr1Gepq5Ssam4Sq6WxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGut1C3rLZNuePfgeyx43zx1%2B6B&T=P&P=AN&S=R&D=lls&K=133445368

Rafferty, P. (2018). Tagging. Knowledge Organization 45(6): 500-516. 

Reynolds, J., Nabaum, A., & Reynolds, J. (2019). Look both ways : A tale told in ten blocks (First ed.). New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.