Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Community Tagging at Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Community Tagging at Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System

Article excerpt

Library Staff Uses Encore Feature to Enhance Catalog and User Success

Staff at New Mexico's Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Public Library System (ABCLS) "know their stuff" when it comes to the local area: from Southwest cooking recipes and stone architecture common to the area, to popular books at the local colleges and guidebooks pointing out the local hiking trails and ghost towns. This knowledge has gone into building an outstanding regional collection and providing top-notch answers to reference questions. ABCLS staff has begun to bring even more of this specialized knowledge to the web with Encore's community tagging feature, which allows a new, uniquely valuable kind of metadata to complement traditional MARC metadata.

In a sense, all libraries are engaged in passing on knowledge through adding value to their resources in various ways. Armed with knowledge of indexing terms, metadata, information sources, and community history, library staff members enrich the experience of their users in a unique way Bringing the totality of their knowledge to bear on library resources has long been a virtue of libraries. At ABCLS, tagging is playing a part.

Scott Denning, a Customer Service Assistant at the library, has started adding New Mexicana terms from Suzy's List to Encore as community tags. Suzy's List is a compilation of type-written lists of items with New Mexico interest. This document was built as a labor of love by a now-retired librarian and was known by word-of-mouth to reference librarians around the library system. Terms have been crossreferenced to titles and themes such as New Mexico authors, novels set in New Mexico, and more. This home-grown document, although not a controlled vocabulary, unlocks doors to the nooks and crannies of the New Mexico experience through the decades.

Denning selects helpful terms from Suzy's Listano adds them to Encore as community tags. Denning says: "In my efforts, I want to show my colleagues how tagging can expose our local knowledge, because it is these library staff who have something to give in terms of getting our full intellectual weight into our web interface. Not all of the librarians know about Suzy's List, so to make it open to all, including library patrons, is wonderful."

Some of the unique New Mexicana material from Suzy's Listare out of print and have MARC records that are susceptible to metadata gaps. For example, classic guidebooks often cover small New Mexico towns, and the names of these towns are now in Encore as tags on the relevant records. Denning says that a number of older, yet valuable reference books have very basic or vague descriptions in MARC. "Every librarian has a list in his or her head of things that are out of print," he says. "You want the customer to be able to find these valuable resources but the catalog metadata is not as helpful as it could be. Now we can pop in a community tag from Suzy's Listor another source to help the customer get there."

Denning has been an active tagger in recent months, adding key terms that are visible to the public at the record level - in the tag cloud (if the tag is well -re presented in the search results)- and as a search facet. Denning started working in libraries at age seven, a passion that led him to a career in the field, as well as to jobs at independent bookstores and at an Albuquerque company doing machine-aided indexing, building of knowledge domains, and construction of taxonomies. He has called upon this experience to enter more than 20,000 tags from Suzy's Listano other items of local or popular interest in the collection.

Library Area Manager for ABCLS, Kevin Unrath, says that regional works are not always easy to access. …

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