Breathing new life into collections

George Oates is at it again. This presentation covers her brilliant work at Flickr Commons and her recent work on openlibrary.org. The themes that run through this presentation are: increasing access to collections; exploiting the power of (larger) networks; and institutional knowledge as substrate (through deconstruction, opening up and sharing).
Flickr Commons now boasts the shared collections of about 30 participating institutions, greatly increasing access to the shared photos (through the power and reach of Flickr) and perhaps more importantly, allowing the active participation of the viewing audience in adding to the institutional descriptions of those images. Now George has a similar vision for openlibrary.org.
She recognises that the catalogue records of libraries often do not make much sense to many intelligent people and in many cases they can actually be improved if we release our authoritative control over them and share them amongst our readers. A retired friend of mine has a massive personal library of well over 20,000 books. A while back we encouraged him to start cataloguing his books on Library Thing and he has already made a major contribution to the improvement of the descriptive records of those books in his collection, many of which he says were poorly catalogued by many great libraries or Amazon. His cataloguing is also less about the strictures of institutional taxonomies and more about the emotional and intellectual discoveries he has made through reading those books. Surely that helps if we think that our catalogues are primarily to be read by people and not machines?

Oh, you can follow her latest project on Twitter too @openlibrary

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