Social Software in Libraries: Not Quite a Review

Meredith Farkas’ new book, Social Software in Libraries, is a solid, well-written discussion of–well, what the title says. Just finished reading it, and this isn’t really a book review but here goes:

Well done, worth reading, lots of good information in a readable form.

There’s quite a bit here–it’s 282 pages not including the (detailed, well-produced) index and other material. That’s 282 pages of relatively small although heavily-leaded type (10 on 13, as far as I can tell); I’d guess this is close to 100,000 words, maybe more.

You already know Farkas writes well and thinks well, so you shouldn’t be surprised that she does a good job here. In general, it’s also a balanced job: She’s describing a range of social software and its potential for libraries, not claiming that every possibility is worth adopting or that every library needs to be at the same level.

She begins by defining social software, then goes on to blogs and blogs in libraries, RSS, wikis, online communities, social networks and social bookmarking/collaborative filtering (“folksonomy”). Chapters cover tools for online reference, the “mobile revolution, podcasting, screencasts and videocasts and gaming.

One of the longest and most thoughtful chapters is on “What will work @ your library.” That’s followed by a good quick primer on keeping up and an interesting view of future trends. There’s an appendix of web sites, a solid index, and the related website (the hyperlink at the start of this post).

There’s one chapter where I would take mild issue with one claim, but it’s certainly not unique to Farkas and I don’t think it’s worth raising here–the same claim was made much more forcefully in the current American Libraries.

There are some minor copy-editing problems (misstating the frequency of C&I, a couple of trivial repetitions of phrases in different paragraphs), but nothing too bothersome.
When I did Balanced Libraries, I hoped that it would complement the web-software books coming out. In this case, I think it does–and I think Farkas has done a fine job.

Sorry this isn’t more polished. I’m not much of a book reviewer. Fortunately, Farkas is a good book writer.

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