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What makes a library social

Is it in its content? Its managers? Its users? It's in all of these.

Today we're picking up our Social Libraries 101 series where we left off last week, here now to explain what exactly makes a library "social."

A social library accesses and leverages user knowledge. All library "patrons" are members of a community where they can retrieve information from collections, and also add value to the content and share ideas.

We call this a Social Online Public Access Catalog (SOPAC), which creates two-way information exchanges mediated by the librarian. SOPACs can also be thought of as social knowledge networks for special libraries. Thus, SOPAC + special library = social library.

Have a look at this diagram to see the difference between traditional OPACs and SOPACs. (Click image to enlarge.)


SOPAC workflow is similar to that of an OPAC. However, it adds a feedback loop for patrons to contribute information, and provides a mechanism for the librarian to moderate the process. Original content is enhanced through social interaction and the wisdom of the community.

Across social libraries, workflow is similar. I'll draw you an example. Let's take a SOPAC behind the firewall of a pharmaceutical company’s research and development library.
  1. An update to a medical journal is available.
  2. The librarian logs the entry; and vets, categorizes, posts, and distributes this new information.
  3. A scientist or researcher in R&D accesses the updated journal and reads a relevant article.
  4. The scientist then rates it and adds comments and enhances the value of the article by noting other relevant internal research to augment and substantiate the findings.
  5. The repository now contains the original information, and social information that enhances its relevance and adds value.
With this new paradigm, the role of the librarian changes, as you might expect. We've covered this trends in many of the podcasts we've done. I'll also explore that idea more in next week's post.

1 comment:

Albert said...

What makes a library social is the community and how they treat one another in my opinion.

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