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“Open” Worldcat and those frustrating reviews

Sarah Houghton had a highly readable, far less stream-of-consciousness summary of Michael Porter’s class, which she attended the day after I did. I note her comments re Open Worldcat:

“Michael showed us Open WorldCat, including the ‘Reviews’ tab for each item where people can add their own reviews. This feature isn’t being used much yet, but it’s available (which is more than we can say for most library catalogs). He also suggested that to search the full Open WorldCat holdings, you should do a Google site-specific search like AUTHOR/TITLE as a better way to look for Open WorldCat books than just adding “Find in a Library” or “Open WorldCat” to your keyword search.”

I said in class what I have said to luminaries at the Big O to the point where I’m a little surprised there’s no restraining order on me: THE REVIEWS AREN’T BEING USED FOR GOOD REASON.

All the Big O has to do is look at how Amazon and Netflix do it. But instead, on WorldCat:

1. Add a review–it drops into a bucket. I can’t even remember what I reviewed. Of course I want to go back and look at my own reviews–dude, where’s my web? Oh, I forgot: we’re the self-sacrificing librarians who will add reviews Just Because It’s The Right Thing To Do. Talk about playing into our own stereotype!

2. I can’t see how many reviews one person has done, let alone link to them as a group.

3. I can’t see who the “power reviewers” are. They aren’t labeled as such. I not only want to know who they are when I look at a post, I want to browse their reviews. You know, WorldCat Top 500 reviewer. Apparently you’ll need to start with a far lower bar, but still.

4. I can’t just give a book five stars and be done with it, the way IMDB and now Amazon allow you to do. In other words, I have to WRITE a review. Let me not have to over-invest. Set up editorial controls for this as well so it’s obvious if some disgruntled student is simply marking every book with one star, but let me quickly add my 2 cents.

4. Speaking of stars–show them. Not hidden on the review tab, either.

5. Feeds, hello, Big O, of all places with the resources to do this… come on!

6. There’s no way to request a change to a review, should you make a booboo.

The biggest challenge here is also the biggest opportunity: these reviews could get really popular, and help make WC (as Stu says its acronym goes–see, I even assume first-name familiarity with the people I stalk) the tipping point for a universal ILS. So the Big O should hire a Chief Reviewer, in charge of editorial oversight of the reviews, mentoring of the reviewers, and nagging the ponderous Big O to implement technological changes on a faster timetable. Goodness, you’d think their organization was run by librarians.

Oh, and can WC not look so librarianish plain-text drab? Book jackets, please!

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