social software for libraries and librarians

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Aston University]On: 04 October 2014, At: 09:27Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Hospital LibrarianshipPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/whos20

    Social Software for Libraries andLibrariansMelissa L. Rethlefsen a , Nicole C. Engard b , Daphne Chang c & CarolHaytko da Learning Resource Center , Mayo Clinic College of Medicine ,Rochester, MN, USAb Jenkins Law Library , Philadelphia, PA, USAc Jackson Library , Graduate School of Business, StanfordUniversity , Stanford, CA, USAd Souderton, PA, USAPublished online: 08 Sep 2008.

    To cite this article: Melissa L. Rethlefsen , Nicole C. Engard , Daphne Chang & Carol Haytko (2007)Social Software for Libraries and Librarians, Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 6:4, 29-45, DOI:10.1300/J186v06n04_03

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J186v06n04_03

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Social Software for Librariesand Librarians

    Melissa L. RethlefsenNicole C. Engard

    Daphne ChangCarol Haytko

    ABSTRACT. This paper describes social software and its potential andcurrent use in libraries and by librarians. Technologies discussed are so-cial bookmarking tools, social reference managers, social media applica-tions, and collaboration tools such as wikis and group word processingas well as RSS, browser tool bars, and blogs. doi:10.1300/J186v06n04_03[Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Ser-vice: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: Website: 2006 by The Haworth Press, Inc.All rights reserved.]

    KEYWORDS. Social software, Web 2.0, collaboration tools

    INTRODUCTION

    Social software is a new name for an old conceptsoftware that letspeople collaborate, communicate, and connect. From the early days ofthe Internet, where Usenet, bulletin boards, and multiplayer text-based

    Melissa L. Rethlefsen is Education Technology Librarian, Learning ResourceCenter, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN (E-mail: mlrethlefsen@gmail.com). Nicole C. Engard is Web Manager, Jenkins Law Library, Philadelphia, PA(E-mail: nengard@jenkinslaw.org). Daphne Chang is Librarian, Jackson Library,Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (E-mail: daphne.chang@stanford.edu). Carol Haytko is a writer and activist from Souderton, PA(E-mail: carol.haytko@gmail.com).

    Journal of Hospital Librarianship, Vol. 6(4) 2006Available online at http://jhspl.haworthpress.com

    2006 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.doi:10.1300/J186v06n04_03 29

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  • games were popular amongst the computer-savvy, social software hascome to a new level of popularity. Due to their low learning curve, highutility, and cool quotient, millions of people use social software applica-tions every day. Common applications include established technologiessuch as blogs and instant messaging, and emerging technologies like so-cial bookmarking, social networking Web sites, and wikis and similarcollaboration tools. The crux of all these technologies is sociality.

    SOCIAL BOOKMARKING

    Out of social bookmarking, one of the newer types of social softwarehas spawned huge user communities, new terminology and thinkingabout classification and social processes, and several research studies.And, on top of all that, it is incredibly fun and very useful. At its heart, itis a place for people to store their bookmarks online. In addition to sup-plying convenient, everywhere accessible bookmarks, social book-marking Web services allow users to tag (and often annotate) each oftheir bookmarks. By tagging, or assigning personal keywords to, book-marks, users can create mental paths to help them find their bookmarksagain. Thus, social bookmarking sites are in large part personal mne-monic devices.

    The real benefit from social bookmarking services, however, is thesocial aspect. When a user bookmarks a Web page, he/she is shown themost popular tags other users have chosen to describe it. After book-marking it, the user can check out who else has bookmarked it, whatthey have tagged it with, and what they have said about it. By presentingthis kind of feedback and social connection, users can find others withsimilar interests whose bookmarks they can then monitor. By searchingand browsing through collections of users bookmarks, it is possible tonot only stumble across resources you might not ordinarily have found,but also to find those resources considered best or most credible on acertain topicjust by looking at how many people have implicitly markeda resource as important.

    For librarians, the tagging phenomenon connected with social book-marking is also one to watchmany in the social software world seetagging as a way to increase findability of materials on the Web and inlibraries, as tagging is a kind of social, collaborative classification. In-deed, many hope that studying the tagging patterns that emerge, alsoknown as the folksonomy, will help improve subject mapping, indexing,and taxonomy development (1) there are several social bookmarking

    30 JOURNAL OF HOSPITAL LIBRARIANSHIP

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  • Web sites available today, the most popular of which is del.icio.us(http://del.icio.us), with over 50,000 users (2). del.icio.us is primarily aresource for personal use; in fact, dozens of librarians use it to manageand store their own bookmarks. Libraries are also starting to leveragedel.icio.us and other social bookmarking tools as a resource for their pa-trons. For example, the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Illinois has itsown del.icio.us account. Its del.icio.us bookmarks are fed via a smallpiece of javascript code into the librarys Web site in a link roll, or a con-tinuously updating list of the librarys most current bookmarks. Patronscan use the newest links from the library Web site or subscribe to the RSSfeed of the librarys bookmarks. In the medical world, several medicalblogs such as KidneyNotes (http://kidneynotes.blogspot.com) and an-tifaust (http://www.antifaust.net) have also created del.icio.us accountsand feed their bookmarks into their blogs to add additional content.

    Perhaps the best and certainly, in March 2006 when this paper waswritten, the most intense use of social bookmarking by libraries comesfrom the University of Pennsylvania Library, which has created a socialbookmarking service of its own, PennTags, for the institution. Penn-Tags has the same basic capabilities of any social bookmarking service:marking, tagging, annotating, and retrieving. Two aspects of PennTagsmake it particularly worth noting. First, its institutional focus may pres-age the adoption of social bookmarking tools as enterprise technologies,particularly for Intranet deployment. Second, users can tag and annotateOPAC records, increasing resource findability. Though some librarianshave developed ways to display tag clouds (groups of tags displayed toeasily discern popular tags and themes) of OPAC content, PennTags isthe first to allow in-OPAC tagging (3).

    SOCIAL REFERENCE MANAGERS

    Social reference managers are a twist on social bookmarking tools.Though usually social reference managers allow general Web book-marking as well, social reference managers are geared towards scholar-ly bookmarks: citations, journal articles, and institutional repositories.Particularly appealing about social reference managers is their ability toparse citations for easy storage, retrieval, and use.

    One excellent social reference manager is Connotea, a combinationsocial bookmarking/social reference manager service developed out ofthe Nature Publishing Group and designed for scientists (4). Connoteahas the ability to automatic