Who moved my book?

Some of my recent research led me to a book by Tom Rosenstiel, Strange Bedfellows: how television and the presidential candidates changed American politics 1992. Part of Rosenstiel’s thesis was that the “new media” of the time (Larry King, talk radio, electronic town forums, online services, email lists) had started to challenge the hegemony of television. At least, that’s what I could tell from the reviews, and from Rosenstiel’s interview on BookNotes 15 years ago. I haven’t gotten a hold of the book yet.

The Brookline Public Library’s online catalog reports that it has a copy. Unfortunately, when I stopped by there was an empty space on the shelf where it should have been (I forgot to take a picture).

I’d like to know where the book went. So, for that matter, would the library staff. Wouldn’t this be a sensible application of social media? Marking the record as UNSHELVED is trivial. Setting up up a stream of library volumes s recently marked with that status (or even NEW), and making that visible off of the library home page would make it social. Granted, people are more likely to view the library home page before they visit the library, not after. But it’s a step. 

Here’s the catalog entry.

Apparently the Minuteman Library Network has been experimenting with social media: the “bookmark” comes courtesy of AddThis.com, and it pops up a choose of some 40 different sharing sites. But it dilutes the utility of social media if everyone is bookmarking to their own environment. I should be encouraged to share with other members of my library network.

Though I’d hesitate to call this “social tagging” as it is popularly understood. My interest here is not to try to come up with a different or better classification for the book: various web research methods had let me to it. What I want is “social process tagging,” (for want of a better term), that allows user (or librarian) to better articulate the status of the book (“unshelved”) in such a way that people can view a stream of similarly tagged items.

I’m curious whether any public libraries are experimenting tagging — process or topical. From the best I can tell, the Boston Public Library catalog does not, and nor does New York or San Francisco.

UPDATE, Monday: The Brookine Public Library located the book.

I also sent this to some library friends of mine. They wondered about the utility of such a tagging service, and whether this might lead to unwarranted privacy exposure (not if they obscured who was looking for the book). David Weinberger suggested to me that U of Penn was doing some online tagging, but he didn’t know of any public libraries doing that.