Friday, August 1, 2008

Web 2.0 for Bibliophiles and Teachers

Of all the various "Web 2.0" tools that have emerged, the one that excites me the most is Granted, I'm a book geek whose home greatly resembles a library, but the potential uses of Librarything in schools seem endless to me.

What is Librarything? Basically you catalog your books, and you become part of a huge statistical mesh of bookowners. The site will look at your collection, compare it to others, and make book recommendations. You can browse other people's collections, join groups of people with similar interests, rate and review books, and so forth.

Using Librarything (LT) within a school, a teacher-librarian could import the school library's catalog to LT and instantly make it searchable from any computer connected to the Internet.

Outside of the school's formal library, a school-wide catalogue of books present in classrooms, tagged according to whose classroom they're in and who's borrowed them, would allow schools to get a better handle on what books are available (and possibly save some money by allowing the library to avoid duplicate purchases). If there were buy-in from all the teachers in the school, you could really get the kids hyped up on books as they tried to catalog every book in the school. Thinking about books, categorizing and organizing them, physically handling every book in their classroom... how could the kids not get excited about books?

Students could enter their personal libraries into LT, compare with their friends, and have LT recommend books to them based on similarities to the libraries of their friends. Book reviews could be done online (and/or existing book reviews on LT could be used as templates for doing a book review), and individual classes could start LT discussion groups to talk about books. Essentially, the "book club" could be moved online.

Librarything, by connecting books to technology, also offers a great opportunity to teach students about e-books, and to talk about issues like copyright, copyleft, and digital freedoms.