Traditional notions of surrogacy in the library world revolve around catalog records – a neutral distillation of attributes intended to support discovery and management. In the age of the Amazoogles, richness of linking and community-generated surrogates play a welcome role in discovery and evaluation. Several interesting issues emerge from this shift.
Surrogates as first class objects
I’ve alluded to the importance of this in a previous post. It is part of the perspective shift that is, I believe, fundamental to the transition from Library 1.0 to Library 2.0 thinking.
Neutral surrogates as opposed to evaluative surrogates
Librarians have traditionally positioned themselves in a
neutral role… above the ideological fray of content. I think this is as much artifact as
intent. A bib record should be a neutral inventory of
attributes, and to the extent that the catalog was central to our service, that
neutrality served well. Of course, Libraries
have long offered reader advisories. Nancy
We have entered the era of recommender services to assist in our every consumer selection. The best example of this in the Library space is Amazon – the reviews are widely read and eagerly written, and the marketing data (people who bought this, also bought that…) is valuable indeed. Library Thing has, through the application of now well-understood social collaboration techniques, has introduced a similar functionality that is independent of book purchase.
Which is more valuable as a finding aid? A catalog record or a review? One focuses on discovery, and the other on suitability. But within the everything-indexed context of the Web, both are important, and the distinction blurs. There is a case to be made for library-mediated evaluative surrogates coexisting cheek-by-jowl with traditional cataloging records.
What about an Amazon-library system mashup? Just what Amit Gupta has offered (brought to my attention in Lorcan Dempsey's Blog). All very interesting co-evolution, but what I really wanted to do was show off the Nancy Pearl Action Figure (deluxe Version). Small Parts. Not suitable for children under 3 or those without a library card. Who needs Jane Austen, anyway?