Social Libraries

Last Updated: February 23rd, 2017

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Overview

A Social library is a website that allows users to keep track of and catalog media collections ranging from books to CDs and DVDs. Users can share their collections, keep lists and wish lists, and network with users that have similar interests. Recommendations are generated based on the ratings using statistical computation and network theory. Some sites offer a buddy system, as well as virtual checking out of items for borrowing among friends.

Some popular social library applications and websites include:

Application to All Courses

The application of social libraries will be similar in regular, large enrollment, online or hybrid enrollment courses. The following are some of the major benefits of social libraries:

  • Provides a constantly evolving list of media such as books, music, DVDs, games and videos.
  • Can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection.
  • Bookmarked and tagged media results compile allowing users to see what is being utilized by the most people.
  • Users can share their library with others, and find out who is viewing the same books and media. This can help users discover resources that are relevant to their interests or field of study but may have been unknown to them. In the case of books this may be of particular use in writing courses. In the case of media this may be of particular use in creative courses such as art, music, dance and drama.
  • Users with similar interests can search within a keyword phrase or tag to find media posted by other users or can add media under a tag to increase and strengthen the folksonomy.
  • Stores books and media for access by individuals, groups, or the public. Also allows users to recommend books and media to others.

Teaching Methods

Social libraries can be used in the classroom in the following ways:

  • Cite and tag books and media for students to access during the semester as part of required course materials or as class resources. The social library can then be made available to subsequent sections of the class and continuously modified.
  • Require students to bookmark and tag books for use in bibliographies, works cited, and literature reviews.
  • Require students in a creative course (e.g., art, music, drama, or dance) to tag important media works to create an individual student or whole course library. Utilize the tags in class projects, for example, when critiquing works.
  • Require students in a literature course to bookmark literature they have read or recommend to others in the course.

Examples

Getting Started

  • Social library sites require that you have a username and password in order to save your books and media and recommend resources to others.
  • After you join a social library service and obtain a username and password you may be asked to download a browser extension. However, with many social library sites it is possible to tag resources without an extension.
  • To save a book or media resource for later use click on the “add an item” icon that represents your chosen social library site.
  • A window will pop up allowing you to categorize your books and media into various tags, insert information about the resource, and recommend the resource to others. You can also add an item to your library by looking up the title or URL directly through the social library website.
  • In order to send information to others they must be a part of your social library “network.” This can be done by inviting another user to join your network. Once they are a part of your network you can make recommendations to them.
  • The social library will file your resource in accordance with the tags you selected. In order to retrieve the resource click on the tag under which it has been saved.

Additional Resources

Articles – Blogs, Websites, Wikis

Social library websites and applications

  • Discogs: A social library website and database of information about music recordings.
  • Last.fm: A social library website for cataloging music.
  • Lib.rario.us: A social library website for cataloging media collections including books, DVD’s, and CD’s.
  • LibraryThing: A social library web application for sharing personal library catalogs and book lists.

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