Emerging trends in technology: IFLA 2009, satellite meeting

In the lead up to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Library and Information Conference (WLIC), which opens in Milan on Sun 23 Aug, a number of pre-conference satellite meetings have been held across Italy, with a few others taking place in other European destinations.

I attended the IFLA Information Technology Section’s event, titled Emerging trends in technology: libraries between Web2.0, semantic web and search technology, which was held in Florence 19-20 Aug. The topic of this meeting fits in well with my work at SLIC, and I was especially interested to find out about developments and initiatives related to the adoption of new technologies in libraries in different parts of the world.

Due to problems with my flight, I missed the first part of the programme but was glad that many of the issues that had been covered were consolidated through the talk show (panel discussion) that took place on day two. The slides from the whole meeting will also be made available so I look forward to browsing the talks that I missed.

On day two, the presentations covered: the European Library’s work on developing a schema for the integration of web applications and services infrastructure; the ongoing development of OCLC’s WorldCat in line with emerging technologies and a discussion of ontologies and folksonomies.

There was also a particularly interesting presentation by Anne Christensen of Hamburg State University Library on next generation catalogues and users’ expectations. Anne discussed her experience of implementing the beluga project in Hamburg and provided some fascinating insights from user feedback.

The day ended with my own presentation on Web2.0 in Scottish libraries, which focused on CILIPS and SLIC’s engagement with Web2.0, including the forthcoming Web2.0 guidelines. Following my talk, I discovered that the IFLA Information Technology section had been considering developing international Web2.0 guidelines and I was invited to contribute to this process. I was pleased to learn that Scotland is leading the way in this type of work and look forward to being involved in the international collaboration.

Tag chaos

As part of the SLIC/CILIPS Web 2.0 experimentation, the Information Team has been looking at the process of tagging in social networking sites. When we first approached tagging, we thought that our cataloguing skills would be useful but quickly realised this was not entirely the case. The lack of consistency and control in the world of tags left us reeling!

Undeterred, we started to experiment with different approaches and came to the conclusion that some tagging guidelines would be helpful, at an organisational level at least. After much deliberation and procrastination, we’ve now battered out a final draft and would welcome any feedback or suggestions.

The process of compiling guidelines has left us with many questions and few definite answers. How should librarians approach tagging? Can guidelines work at a community, if not global, level? Should user-generated tags be incorporated into catalogue records? On a practical level, how should tags be constructed? Should we favor US spellings, ditch capital letters and insert underscores? Let us know what you think.