Monday, July 9, 2007

A Brain-Flash about Finding Libraries

I had one of my brain-flashes this morning, brought about by this Stephen Bell post at ACRLog and my initial response to it, which is posted in the comments over there. (Go read them. I'll wait. The rest of this post won't make much sense if you don't.)

The brain-flash was, this sounds like a project for the hive-mind! The hardest part of creating a "Find Your Library" tool is gathering all of the information about all of the however many thousands of libraries there are in the U.S. (and Canada, if we want to be inclusive). If you have to pay people to gather all of that information, it gets expensive, but create a site where people can contribute information about the libraries that they work at/patronize/know about, and sooner or later you'll get all of your data for free.

And you can get really rich data and do fun stuff with it when you're letting the public contribute. Let people rate libraries and leave comments about them! Let people tag the libraries and allow tag-based searches! Let people create structured folksonomies to organize the libraries into hierarchical categories to allow for even more powerful searches! This would be a really fun test-bed for some of the ideas I've been kicking around about people-powered ontologies....

So, what do you say? Is anybody interested in helping me launch this site?

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