Session 11 – Connecting to the Community

Librarians already do a fine job of connecting with users who actually show their faces in physical library buildings. BiblioCommons tries to provide ways of extending that same high standard of service to users who choose to visit their local libraries on the Web.

One way in which BiblioCommons accomplishes this is with its “trust” system, which enables users (including yourself) to explicitly choose other users with whom they share tastes and preferences.

Note: User-created content is aggregated across the BiblioCommons system, encompassing all member libraries. This means users from all BiblioCommons client libraries will be able to interact with one another in the various ways described in this session.

11.1 Building your own Trust Network or “Following” Other Users

Task: Follow a user.

From a bibliographic record:

  • Search for a well-known item—one that is likely to have already attracted at least a handful of reviews, and that you have also read or watched.
  • Find a comment that resonates in some way with you, whether because you agree, or because you disagree but find the commentary in some way intelligent, sensible, or witty. Click the arrow next to that user’s name, and choose to follow that user. (Don’t worry – this is easily undone later!)
  • Now you’ll be presented with a couple of options – either to follow this user for everything (i.e. any item they rate 4 stars or higher) or for specific form/genre categories that relate to the bibliographic record you came from.

From a user’s Shelves:

  • Now try going to that user’s Completed Shelf.

Hint: You can do this by clicking on their name any place you see it.

  • You’ll see the option to Edit Follow Settings. (If you were not already following this user, this link would read Follow).
  • Again you can choose to follow everything or specific categories. This time the categories are tags and genres that appear in the user’s Shelves. If you check a tag, you’ll be notified (in the Recommendations section under the Explore tab) each time a user assigns that tag to an item, then rates that item with either four or five stars.
  • Now go to the Recommendations page under Explore. This is where your recommendations from trusted users will eventually appear. There will be nothing there at the moment, unless the user you’ve just chosen to follow is logged in and actively assigning star ratings to new items.

Follow is great for users whose contributions you appreciate. For users who annoy you, or whose contributions you find inappropriate, BiblioCommons has a powerful Ignore feature. Let’s see how it works.

Task: Ignore a user.

  • Next, find another comment from the same bibliographic record page (or another one, if you want) where you find the opinions expressed less helpful, for whatever reason. Again, click the arrow next to that name, but this time select Ignore.
  • Now refresh your page. Notice that the comment by the user you just chose to ignore is gone. In the future, no content added to BiblioCommons by that user will be visible to you.

Note: You can undo the Follow and Ignore settings you created during these tasks by adjusting settings in My NetworksIgnore only hides a user’s content from the Ignorer. It does not completely eradicate their contributions from the BiblioCommons system. In the event that a user’s contributions are offensive, or otherwise in violation of community standards, BiblioCommons will work with your library to restrict that user’s access to the system.

11.2 Send a Message

Another interesting community-building feature of BiblioCommons is messages, which allow users to send short notes to one another through the OPAC.

Task: Send a note to another user.

  • Go look at the Completed Shelf of the user you decided to follow in the previous exercise.
  • Send a message to this person. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated or personal. A simple “Thank you for rating this book.” Or: “Thanks for this recommendation. I watched this movie last week and really enjoyed it.” Alternatively, you may find yourself wanting to message someone with a specific question. It’s all anonymous. Note that the context from which you send your message will not be visible to the recipient; so it’s often a good idea to mention the specific title you are referring to: “I watched Slumdog Millionaire with my children…” not “I watched this movie with my children….”

Note: Private messaging is not enabled for children under 13 years of age for safety reasons. For these users, the Inbox simply does not appear, and neither does the option of sending a message when they are logged into the site.