Friday, July 24, 2009

My Bookmark Dilemma

I have spent some time this summer cleaning up my delicious bookmarks, posted some thoughts here. and joined in conversations on other blogs about using online bookmarking.

I think of my delicious bookmarks as my online library. I find it useful but overwhelming at times. Today as I read through my RSS feeds and glance back over some recent Twitter posts I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of useful links and resources. I want to save them all!

This could become a full-time job in itself. As a librarian with more than a few years under my belt I remember the days before we used centralized processing. The days before I had a library clerk. I remember the stacks of new books that arrived in boxes and how I would dive into them in a frenzy of categorizing and sorting to get them on the shelves and into the kids hands as quickly as I could. Before the books arrived I spent hours pouring over catalogues, reading book review periodicals, writing up cards for my consideration file. Now I turn to my PLN online and use delicious to help me flag books for purchase.

So the focus of my job is shifting in regards to the number of hours I spend on various tasks. Less time on book selection and processing, more time online sifting through feeds and bookmarking. I can sometimes feel lonely and unsupported as I do this. The Internet doesn't come with manuals, guidebooks or a set of time tested procedures. As I bookmark sites for my staff and students I wonder how many of them will ever be used.

When I add books to my collection everyone can see them on the shelf each time they enter the library. Not so with my bookmarks. They remain hidden until I can point them out, embed a link to them or teach my community how to search through them.

I'm left with a number of questions:

Am I tagging resources in the best possible way for others to find them?
Am I reaching my staff and students effectively so that they will start using those bookmarks as an online library?
How much time is time well spent when it comes to saving bookmarks?
Are there more effective ways to 'organize' the web for staff and students?

And all this leads me to think that I am reinventing the wheel as I consider that I am probably not alone in this dilemma. So I soldier on, hoping that I am using the best ways to harness and promote this online library. And I wonder what will become of it when I have moved on. How do I pass this collection on to my successor? Will they even want it or know how to use it? Will it make any sense to them?

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