Friday, October 9, 2009


I recently attended a workshop presented by OCLC. Some of the talk was promotion of the various WorldCat entities, not relevant to me. What was relevant was a talk by Michael Edson, Director, Web and New Media Strategy, Smithsonian Institution, Office of the CIO entitled Relevance, Existence, and the Smithsonian Commons.

The Smithsonian is the world largest museum and research complex. And yet on an issue they have spent much effort - the oceans, a 2 person website called gets many times more hits. What is wrong with their site? Why do people not start their research there?

So the Smithsonian has been working through issues like how their task should be to:
Empower citizen-scholars!
Solve big complex problems!
Interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships!
Create innovative informal education
Use their resources for the public good in the midst of unceasing change

It seems to me this is the role of libraries too, and I would like to think, of Whilbr. Ok - Whilbr doesn't solve big complex problems but could empower citizen scholars, assist in interdiscplinary collaboration (as in C&O Canal project) and be part of innovative informal education.

Micheal used this image for the new model - collaboration and innovation

And I started thinking of the need for Whilbr in particular and libraries in general to move from the left image to the right. Hard to do, control is lost, possibly quality is lost but a common space where ideas are more freely exchanged seems relevant. Can we foster learning and collaborative knowledge creation? For Whilbr,
what can I do with this content once I find it? How can I interact with my fellow-visitors to the website?

More from Michael's talk can be found at


John Taube said...

We are trying to extend the conversation within our catalog by allowing patrons to add reviews, ratings, and tags. Maybe WHilbr can provide a space where viewers can add their own 2 cents about the pictures they see or add stories they were told by their elders.

Jill said...

Makes sense. Now when Tracy has some time...