Building Digital Libraries: Role of Social (Open Source) Software

Building Digital Libraries: Role of Social (Open Source) Software

Kshema Prakash (Dayalbagh Educational Institute, India), Jason A. Pannone (Harvard University, USA) and K. Santi Swarup (Dayalbagh Educational Institute, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-767-1.ch005
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Blogging is a relatively recent phenomenon, and its use in academic libraries is in nascent stage. The authors of this chapter use blogs as part of their outreach to patrons, though in slightly different contexts and for slightly different purposes. Blogging can be an important component of digital libraries, one that allows for timely two-way communication of news, information, bibliographic instruction, and the like. While challenges have been raised to the worth and value of academic library blogs (e.g., Gorman, 2005), the authors believe, based on the research and their experience, that blogging is a useful tool for academic librarians and digital libraries.
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History Of Blogging In Academic Libraries

Any history of blogging in academic libraries must take into account the development of two related concepts: Web 2.0, or Social Software, and Library 2.0. We will outline these concepts in the next two sections.

Web 2.0 or Social Software

The concept of Web 2.0 originated as a list of characteristics of successful web properties. Among these are the Read/Write web, the web as platform, the Long Tail1, harnessing of collective intelligence, network effects, core datasets from user contributions, and lightweight programming models. Web users of the web engage many of these properties on a daily basis.

The benefits of the principles of Web 2.0 and its technology are that they offer libraries many opportunities to serve their patrons better and reach out beyond the walls and websites of the institution to reach potential beneficiaries where they are, and in association with the task they happen to be undertaking. It is worth appreciating the level of integration and interoperability of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 that are designed into the interface of a library portal or intranet.

Taking a cue from the Libraries and Social Software in Education (LASSIE) Project Report (Secker, 2008), we will use the term ‘social software’ for Web 2.0 tools and technologies, as these terms are broadly synonymous. As is evident from its overall characteristics, social software is more about user-created content than content created by an organization. Social software also includes development of user profiles and the use of ‘folksonomies,’ or tagging, to attach keywords users create to items to help them retrieve information. Examples of key technologies that underpin the concept of social software are RSS feeds; blogs; wikis; social bookmarking and resource sharing, sites such as CiteULike,; social networking sites, including MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn; media sharing sites such as YouTube, PhotoBucket, Flickr; and virtual worlds. The majority of these technologies are non-proprietary and accessible to all.

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