Snippets of PUG

Conferences dispense so many topics that it’s hard to pluck just one headline from the annual Polaris Users’ Group (PUG) Conference that wrapped up in Syracuse, NY today. I’ll mention a few snippets now and elaborate later.

Tim Spalding, founder of LibraryThing, delivered a good — often hilarious — keynote address yesterday urging libraries to make their catalogs more fun, and more willing to use data tools that discover book relationships not tied to standard subject headings. His Death Star metaphor for OCLC might be a tad over the top, but I’ll gladly follow him down the road of tags and tag clouds. He’s done amazing things with his database of nearly 25 million member-generated tags. (More on that in a future post.)

As a fan of social networking tools, my favorite news of the week came just after the keynote: Polaris programmers have written code exploring a connection with LibraryThing. About six months ago Tim started talking up the possibility of integrating catalogs with LibraryThing tag clouds and related books lists. (I remember this clearly because we tried to engrave our library’s name on his list the following day.) The Danbury Library has it working already. It’s pretty slick. In recent weeks, Polaris programmers were intrigued enough to start writing code to its ILS software to maximize all the bells and whistles that would come streaming in from LibraryThing. There’s no formal partnership between the two, mind you, and no certainty that the coding will go into a new release, but there’s enough written code that Polaris gave us a working demo. I’m a bit partial to the toolkit, mind you, but tag clouds and tag-generated book suggestions in the Polaris ILS looks fantastic. I’ll post screen shots in LibraryStream as soon as I get them.

I was also intrigued to learn more details about the Dewey-free Perry Branch in Maricopa County (AZ). They made news around the world earlier this year when they opened with a design modeled on contemporary bookstores. Materials are arranged by book industry labels (like “Pets” and “Cooking”) rather than Dewey Decimals (like 636 or 641). Cindy Kolaczynski, Maricopa’s Deputy Director, gave background and a progress report at PUG this morning. I’ve got my doubts about going entirely bookstore-based, but love the spirit of experimentation at Maricopa. If no one tries things like this, we’re all just flapping about theory. I’ll come back to this topic, too.

I gave a presentation at this year’s conference — “Training 2.0: How to expose and inspire your staff to the social web” — but I hope that this blog will give you the gist of that over time.

Finally, PUG reminded me the value of face-to-face, meet-in-the-hallway connections that happen so often at conferences. To the many new people I met in Syracuse: It’s a pleasure. To those I had met before: Our conversations seemed to simply pick up where we had left off. To those of you going to other conferences: Eat them up.

5 Responses to Snippets of PUG

  1. Jill says:

    I can’t wait to see our catalog and Librarything mashed up. I also took home lots of “Don’t Dewey” stickers (Dewey within a red circle with a line through). I’m ready for that challenge, too! BTW – The blog looks great!

  2. Georgia says:

    Let’s LibraryThing it soon — tell me what you need from me! I’m very intrigued with anything that makes the catalog, the collection, the library easier and more inviting. I love how libraries are pushing boundaries and challenging themselves to think fresh. This is great Steve!!!

  3. Steve Campion says:

    Jill & Georgia… I’m with both of you. Making things easier, more inviting, more obvious, more fun, more effective. Those are the goals and they’re within reach.

    And thank you both for the blog compliments. I’m glad you like it.

  4. Midge says:

    Steve, your blog is very handsome. I like it. Mashing with LibraryThing certainly will be great – I look forward to our system moving to it and am excited to see how our customers will respond. On the Helpdesk, on more than one occassion, I have been asked why we don’t set up our libraries like Borders because it makes it so easy. Onward and upward, and I am glad I am here to watch the transition.

  5. Chris says:


    Enjoyed seeing you again at PUG. I sent your blog to our library staff so you should expect more hits.

    Thanks for you tips on starting my own blog. Maybe I’ll actually get to that someday. 🙂


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