The NYPL's new catalog

by Simon Collinson on

As part of Social Media Week, we visited the New York Public Library to learn more about their new social catalog and what it can offer Vook’s authors. The NYPL is one of 40 libraries across the US, Canada, and Oceania using BiblioCommons to transform their catalogs into accessible, modern community resources. Micah May, the NYPL’s director of strategy, Johannes Neuer, the associate director of marketing, and specialist librarians Anne Rouyer and Raymond Pun each gave presentations on the possibilities their new system creates.

NYPL patrons can now bookmark, rate, tag, and share items, as well as interact with other users from any library in the BiblioCommons system. Users can create shelves and track what they’ve read, follow (or ignore) each other, and send each other messages.

Perhaps most importantly, they can also add reviews to any items, which are then pooled across all participating libraries. As Raymond pointed out, this doesn’t have to be restricted to short reviews of popular titles; academics may also benefit greatly from others’ reviews of obscure monographs and other resources.

Above: the panel, with Micah May speaking at left.

What does this mean for you? We’re already thinking about how our authors will be able to use this service for their marketing, and we hope to pass on a few ideas soon. (Micah mentioned that the library is looking to integrate Goodreads recommendations to its system, which provides many marketing possibilities for savvy authors.)

Above: a pane showing community activity centered on a title.

However, we were immediately struck by how much this new platform can add to the process of actually writing your books. One example the librarians gave us was research in a narrow field: the new catalog helped three authors (a novelist, a historical nonfiction author, and a Ph.D. candidate) discover that they were all studying the same topic and working with the same small set of resources. They began meeting to share information about their discoveries and approaches.

Above: a user-created list, with contact and sharing options.

These are very exciting developments, moving libraries' relationships with their patrons from a “one-to-one” model to a “one-to-many” model—increasing the strength of the library community and ultimately enhancing authors’ reputations and marketing options. Keep your eyes peeled for more of our thoughts on how authors can best take advantage of the new world of social catalogs!

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