A New Kind of Catalogue – The Open Library

open sesame by 1541This week I’ve been concentrating on the workbook exercises that have to do with The Catalogue and some of the questions in the book (eg. Find out about other cataloguing networks) put me in mind of a site I’d stumbled on last year but hadn’t checked in on in a while – The Open Library

The Open Library has a goal  – to create a web-page for every book ever published. At the time it seemed like a helluva(n) undertaking and while I cruised around on it admiring the enormous amount of content (today it has 23,543,896 books listed) I remember vaguely wondering why they were doing it. So today (a bit older and wiser) I went in search of the answer online. I came across this article in the UK Guardian.

I really admire what they are trying to do and was pleasantly surprised and interested to see the person driving the bus was Australian and has been involved with several other mega-projects including Flickr and the Flickr Commons scheme. I loved this idea especially:

“Imagine books more as a networked object, rather than a single entity,” she suggests. “We start with this kernel and then we see what we can pile onto it … it’s a locus for all the information about a book that’s on the wider web.”

If you have the time it’s worth looking through the FAQs , take a guided tour or read about some of the challenges they are working through as they develop a completely new kind of catalogue. They are rethinking everything from points of access (eg. Subject headings) to the schema of the information to the technology that will support it. They are building a catalogue for the public not just libraries and librarians. They are building it using a wiki, using the good will of many organizations and individuals  and they are building it to be completely open to editing.

This is a real opportunity to watch one of the future directions of catalogues/cataloguing being born. And one I will be keeping a closer eye on (and maybe one day participating in) now that I am a student of ETL505 Accessing Information.


Photo from Flickr by: 1541

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