by Jonathan Furner
World Library and Information Congress: 73rd IFLA General Conference and Council, 19-23 August 2007, Durban, South Africa.

Although user tagging of library resources shows substantial promise as a means of improving the quality of users’ access to those resources, several important questions about the level and nature of the warrant for basing retrieval tools on user tagging are yet to receive full consideration by library practitioners and researchers. Among these is the simple evaluative question: What, specifically, are the factors that determine whether or not user-tagging services will be successful? If success is to be defined in terms of the effectiveness with which systems perform the particular functions expected of them (rather than simply in terms of popularity), an understanding is needed both of the multifunctional nature of tagging tools, and of the complex nature of users’ mental models of that multifunctionality. In this paper, a conceptual framework is developed for the evaluation of systems that integrate user tagging with more traditional methods of library resource description.

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