Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jon Udell's Interviews With Innovators :: Beth Jefferson on BiblioCommons

Originally posted on Jon Udell's Interviews With Innovators on November 30, 2007.

This week’s ITConversations show features Beth Jefferson, founder of BiblioCommons Inc., a company that aims to reinvent and federate the online catalogs of public libraries. She’s thinking very creatively about the social forces that such a federation could marshall. The idea is not to create yet another social network. Instead, she wants to promote the social discovery — and social cataloging — of books, CDs, videos, and other kinds of library resources. Social networks pivot on interpersonal relationships. A BiblioCommons-enabled network would, in a complementary way, pivot on those resources.

How would such a network achieve meaningful scale? Beth has found some data which suggests that if you federated lots of public library catalogs, the combined user population would rival some of the web’s largest sites. Enabling those folks to connect with one another, in the context of resource collections that share common metadata, would be a big deal.

The BiblioCommons software is only now entering its first trial phase. But you can see some of what it does in Beth’s presentation at code4lib, a conference for library technologists.