The reader and OpenWorldCat

Well, it has arrived! Functionality has gone live in OpenWorldCat which allows us to incorporate user views of materials. Check out the details and reviews tab here, for example.

We do not know how this will develop: we think it is really important to provide a central presence on the web where libraries and readers can engage in a conversation about books and other materials. We hope that this engages readers and libraries, and that we can collaboratively create something that it would be impossible for parties to create individually. Try it!

On a side-note, I especially like this initiative because it is another example of a collaboration between my research and production colleagues.

[Note: I originally used the Wiki word in the title of this post, because the underlying technology is Wiki-based - supporting Wiki-like functionality over structured data - and we use Wiki-like markup. However, we use it here to support a different type of application. In my excited rush to talk about it, I should have remembered this! Thanks to commenters.]

Update: here is a direct link to a review:

Comments: 12

Oct 09, 2005

Maybe it's me, but I don't see it. Wiki functionality is where?

Too me it looks more like the things you can do on, and I've never heard them calling it a wiki.

Btw, having to fill out a registrationform with 10+ fields on it doesn't make it really appealing to join in...

Oct 10, 2005

This is not a wiki -- though it's a great feature -- or else I am confused by some of the functionality you are describing.

Oct 10, 2005

Just so not everyone is daunted, I wanted to mention that signing in using my WebJunction user name and password was a breeze.

I think the ability to add reviews to Open Worldcat records is fabulous, and I am hoping it increases use of Worldcat records beyond the boundaries of libraryland (though here is good, too).

I try to use links to OWC records in my blog, and I think the reviews should add real depth to those links.

Oct 10, 2005

You have changed the wording of the post to indicate that it's not a Wiki, but rather functionality that is built on Wiki technology. That's good for accuracy's sake, but then begs the question: why are you *not* implementing a more wiki-like structure, or taking a more open attitude toward contributed content? Why do the Content Guidelines, for example, "request that you refrain from including the following in your content:... URLs, no links." What the heck good is a wiki that doesn't link anywhere but to itself? If I want to add a Details Note related to Cory Doctorow's _Eastern Standard Tribe_ that links to the author's site, where he offers the full text for free download, why shouldn't I do so? If I wish to link to external reviews of a book, why shouldn't I do so?

Oct 11, 2005
Ryan Eby

Well I see on over at Outgoing that there is indeed some nice Wiki back-end to it. Unfortunately it appears to be against the content guidlines to do so. Are the guidelines going to be reworded to allow certain linking?

Oct 11, 2005

A couple of things.

Thom Hickey writes a little about how the review functionality is implemented with some links to background information about the underlying technology. Thom points to a review he has started in which there are several links.

URL links are now supported. At first there was some concern about links to inappropriate sites. After feedback, it has been decided to allow links and see what happens. The guidelines will be amended to reflect this soon.

Oct 12, 2005

User reviews are great, but I don't think I've ever made a borrowing or purchasing decision based on one. Sometimes they do give great ideas for other resources to consider, eg "This book sucked but XYZ by ABC was great".

I'd love to see reviews of books from journals become more widely available and perhaps available through OpenWorldCat and others. Although Open Access for journal articles is moving along quite quickly, I haven't seen much talk of freeing the reviews which appear in journals, and which are often not indexed in major databases. So if you don't have the print edition, you sometimes don't have the review at all.

I agree with lislemck - I'd rather link to OWC or similar rather than a bookstore when writing about a book. It's a great way to subtly promote supporting your local library.

Oct 13, 2005
Andy Havens

2 comments on Fiona's comment: lots of people I know make buying/borrowing decisions based on reader reviews; they also look to reviews of books they've already read in order to find links in those reviews to similar books, or reviews of other books by a reviewer they've come to respect. Also -- and Lorcan will correct me if I'm wrong, I hope -- but I believe that the user reviews of WorldCat materials will drive up the search engine rankings of these listings, such that Internet seekers for materials are more likely to find them in WorldCat and, thus, more likely to know that they are available in libraries. So the reviews provide an SEO "gravity" feature, regardless of whether or not it directly impacts the reading/borrowing decision. If the searcher is already determined to find a particular work, the review helps him/her find it in WorldCat.

Oct 14, 2005
Matt Pasiewicz

I'd think about a heavy emphasis in academic and research libraries might be interesting ... if you could get a significant number of professors to log in and add reviews, it could be really interesting. Then, in the public library sector, I'd try to think about getting folks to work with municipal government officials, community leaders and supporters from the private sector to contribute reviews. Some type of coordinated attack from might help it recieve some type of rather interesting identity ... especially if the review was tied to a library branch. Then you could do all sorts of interesting localized things with the data.

- Just my $.02

Oct 20, 2005

What's with "session" URLs? I am trying to determine if the URLs for entries with full subject headings or reviews can be linked directly.

It seems like the "DetailDisplay?query=no" section of the URL creates a session that expires. I specifically wanted to discuss the full subject headings assigned to an entry in my blog (who, me a librarian?). Then I wanted to show a review I had entered. The links worked when I tested them, but the "sessions" had expired when my readers tried them. Is there some trick I am missing?

Oct 20, 2005
Mike Teets

The Open Worldcat developers are working on the session URL issue. We hope to have a short term solution that will accept a session based URL and land it on the right page even after it expires. We are also looking at a longer term solution that will remove the session information from the URL altogether.

If you want to create a link to a specific review, you can use the format:[ISBN number]&tab=reviews Replace the square parens and text with isbn.

See all of the potential linking models at


Jan 18, 2006

What's with "session" URLs? I am trying to determine if the URLs for entries with full subject headings or reviews can be linked directly.