Goodreads Librarians Group discussion

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Policies & Practices > Suggestions for new librarians

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message 1: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
A few weeks or so back (longer?) we had a discussion about some things we hoped GR would consider requiring members to do before becoming active librarians. I'm having trouble finding that (those?) thread(s). Any help would be appreciated.

Also, feel free to make more suggestions in this one.


message 2: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments Read the librarian manual and actually join and follow the librarian group?


message 3: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Heh. Those are both already suggested in the welcome email. Enforcing is difficult, to say the least. ;)


message 4: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments Were you thinking of the "mentoring" idea that was thrown around relatively recently?


message 5: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
That was definitely the thread, but I think there were other suggestions made as well?


message 6: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments Maybe this thread?


message 7: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Ok, from that thread:

Isis FG wrote: "I think that along with the librarian manual, there should be page with directions explaining how each and every field of the book edit/manually add pages should be used.

It would be someone very direct, easy to read and look at. And maybe it might help prevent some problems. Maybe GR could email it to every person accepted as a librarian."




Pretty sure there's at least one other thread out there with suggestions. And I don't mean the Boot Camp one. ;)


message 8: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
mlady_rebecca wrote: "Maybe this thread?"

Yes!!!


message 9: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
And the most relevant bits (I think) from that thread:

This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "Would it be worth constructing some sort of "training" module that has to be completed before someone can become a librarian? Nothing outrageously hard, long, or complicated, but something which forces them to read some of the basic rules and regulations a little more closely and perhaps answer a simple quiz? (I've been thinking about it for a few days and can't decide if this would annoy me or not, so I'm throwing it out for consideration)"

Cait wrote: "I'm not sure there's any sort of quiz for #1 that would be applicable -- there are all sorts of different librarian skills, and many people specialize in, say, editing quotes or editing trivia. I know I couldn't tell you much about editing trivia!"

Isis FG wrote: "I've wondered about the possibility of a master librarian for authors...like someone who is very knowledgeable about an author getting status as ML for that author, and then being able to approve changes others suggest. Which is probably too involved a system.

It just drives me nuts sometimes to think that for a couple authors I've done extensive editing on, someone can come through and change things on a whim."





message 10: by jenjn79 (last edited Apr 30, 2009 01:35PM) (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments Rivka...for my one suggestion on a page describing what each field is for, I did start on that. I just never finished. I suck ;)

If it's still something that would be helpful, I'll get back to work on it...

In general, I'd just like to see the prerequisite for becoming a librarian be a little less loose. I mean, someone can join one day, add 50 books, apply for librarian status and be a librarian the next day. To me, that's not a very good system because you've got someone with no idea of the ins and outs of the site able to to make massive changes. I'd rather the prereq be that they be on and using GR for a period of time, getting to know how things work.


message 11: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Isis FG wrote: "Rivka...for my one suggestion on a page describing what each field is for, I did start on that. I just never finished. I suck ;)"

Nah. You just have a real life. And got insufficient encouragement. I can't do much about the first part, but here's a little something to help with the second: Cheerleader 3



Isis FG wrote: "In general, I'd just like to see the prerequisite for becoming a librarian be a little less loose. I mean, someone can join one day, add 50 books, apply for librarian status and be a librarian the next day. To me, that's not a very good system because you've got someone with no idea of the ins and outs of the site able to to make massive changes. I'd rather the prereq be that they be on and using GR for a period of time, getting to know how things work."

I agree entirely.


message 12: by jenjn79 (last edited Apr 30, 2009 01:48PM) (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments I'll try to get more work done on it. It ended up being more tedious than I thought it would to make sure all the important info got said.

******

Trying to make sure librarians understand the system is such a tricky thing. There are so many little dos and don'ts that just aren't obvious.

Like if an inexperienced user/librarian goes to add a book they have (searching via ISBN) and sees that the covers don't match, they'll just think its a mistake, delete the cover and add theirs. They don't know that some ISBNs have multiple covers and instead they should make a new alt. cover edition.

Trying to prevent all issues like that would be impossible, but I do think there are ways to prevent many mistakes.

*******

Another suggestion - newbie librarians can only make a certain number of edits per day. This would help prevent mass problems like someone new coming in and deciding all series should be labeled a new way they like (I've seen this happen).


message 13: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments I'd love it if a person had to be an active user of GR's for a period of time before becoming a Librarian, but I thought that got vetoed before.

The quiz isn't a bad idea for people who want to be general librarians, but I imagine you'd get complaints from those who just want to be able to add covers for their own books or something equally narrow in scope.

Isis's idea of a master librarian for authors is interesting, but how would one assign that? Wouldn't the more popular authors be fought over?

I like the limited number of edits for new librarians. Kind of like a provisional driver's license.


message 14: by vicki_girl (new)

vicki_girl | 2766 comments I would like to third (fourth?) the suggestions on

(1) being a member for a certain time period.
(2) only a certain number of edits per day for a certain time period.


message 15: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments I've got a rough draft of "how to edit a book" with (sometimes lengthy) explanations on what each field is meant to be used for just about done. Very rough draft, lol. I'll post it soon for discussion...I'm sure there are things that need to be worked on or added.


message 16: by Random (last edited Apr 30, 2009 05:03PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 55 comments I'd personally love to see a better librarian manual.

The existing one, well there's very little useful information in there. The first time I wanted to add the ebook editions of some of my books it was almost complete guess work on my part and I spent most of the time worried that I would screw something up. I was almost terrified to click on Combine to combine editions because I had no idea where it would take me and what it would do.

I suspect a lot of errors might be helped with a more detailed manual.

Also, to be honest, it would be nice to have documented standards of data. It is difficult to know how to handle some situations when even experienced librarians tend to disagree among one another.

Limiting by edits per day will be useless unless someone is willing to go along behind and work with them to correct any mistakes they made. Without instruction/correction once the time period is up they'll be free to run along and make all sorts of errors. Its just delaying the possible mess and limiting those possible new librarians who are willing to learn and who can be quite productive and helpful.


message 17: by Otis, Chief Architect (last edited Apr 30, 2009 05:26PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
I'm very against any sort of time constraint for a librarian to be approved. Many of the edits done are by people who just want to make a few changes to a book that is lacking information - and they should be able to do that quickly.

But it is definitely a problem when someone's hard work is being undone by someone who doesn't know what they are doing. So a few changes for the next release:

* Applying to be a librarian now requires you to have read the librarian manual, and strongly encourages joining the this group.
* The edit book page has been vastly changed to call out the change log and describe the rules for each field. Suggestions for changes to the copy of that page (after its live) are very welcome - please post them here.

I don't know about Master Librarians, but the direction is good. Would people want the ability to opt into following any author or book that they particularly care about?

Long term, I think we need to move to be more like Wikipedia, with better change logs, ability to follow an article, and arbitration. Ideas along that vein are welcome too!


message 18: by Lisa (last edited Apr 30, 2009 06:28PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments Otis,

For members who want to make just a few changes, they can come into the librarians group and request that librarians make those changes. Members who don't want to be librarians do it all the time.

I maintain my opinion that it's too easy to become a librarian, even while realizing that experienced librarians who know Goodreads well do make errors too. A lot of errors are made by a relative few though, and there is a high frustration level with librarians having to correct all the mistakes made. An awful lot of damage can be done by a single member.

I do like the mentoring idea. I'd be happy to participate.

There are so many librarians who contribute so much to improve Goodreads/the data base, but there are also many members with librarian status who have made consistent errors that result in more work for other librarians. I'm glad the manual must now be read in order to apply (I could probably use a refresher and read it every so often, especially with all the new helpful additions!) and I do hope every librarian will join the group and read the messages. I realize there's no way to enforce the latter. However, reading the messages and asking for help in the librarians group is the best resource, along with the manual, that librarians have.

Yes, the edit page and the add books page are much, much improved. Thank you.

Arbitration of some sort is a good idea but there's no way to monitor most activity; there's so much.

Edit: After Rebecca's message 19: For instance, I recently corrected the page number for one of my currently reading books, an edition I had in hand, and I checked the librarian log and another librarian had "corrected" the page number from the correct number to an incorrect number as the last edit. Perhaps they were looking at another edition. I'm always tempted to send a message and get the whys but there's too many of these to do so; I simply changed it back. Page numbers are certainly not the most important data there is. Unfortunately, there are many examples of errors more important. For instance, I occasionally check for duplicates and often find them because librarians have gone in and combined books that shouldn't be combined. Another thank you here: The ability to write librarians' notes has been extremely helpful.


message 19: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments Otis wrote: Would people want the ability to opt into following any author or book that they particularly care about?

Yes, that would be helpful. If it's an either/or thing, I vote for "per author".


message 20: by Eva (new)

Eva Leger (EvaMarie22) | 756 comments I agree with everything Lisa said- a mentor is a GREAT idea. I kind of attach myself to a few people here whenever I have a problem or a question or just want to make sure I'm not going do something wrong. I would have definitely loved to have had a mentor when I became a librarian here.
I also agree that it's a little too easy to become a librarian. I've seen dozens of people who have the librarian status with absolutely no edits whatsoever. That makes me wonder why on earth they applied in the first place? Anyone applying for any other reason to to help fix the database shouldn't be applying IMO.
I also love the new changes too- much better I think!


message 21: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments Otis wrote: "I'm very against any sort of time constraint for a librarian to be approved. Many of the edits done are by people who just want to make a few changes to a book that is lacking information - and th..."

I can understand your reasoning for liking the way it is, Otis, but I still feel like there should be more of a requirement than just adding 50 books to your shelves. With more and more people joining GR and more and more becoming librarians, we're encountering endless problems with people making incorrect changes. There was one new librarian a while back who thought it was okay to reformat the title/series info on a couple hundred books to look like:

series name: book title

and it took a couple hours for me and another librarian to fix. Things like that are really frustrating to those of us who work hard to make the database better but have to spend a lot of time going around fixing others mistakes.

I just think there could be a better way for things to be handled.

****

And though I like the idea of a Master Librarian for an author, being able to "follow" an author in a librarian sense would work almost as well. It would at least let those of us trying to maintain an author know what's been changed around.


message 22: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Thanks for being so open to suggestions, Otis. :) Things like the Librarian Notes and Librarian Comments have already made things better. I look forward to the new changes as well.

Can we also requite users requesting librarian privileges to enter something in the "why" field? Right now it's optional.


message 23: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock (tachyondecay) | 61 comments Otis wrote: "Long term, I think we need to move to be more like Wikipedia, with better change logs, ability to follow an article, and arbitration. Ideas along that vein are welcome too!"

On the subject of improving the Librarian Manual, would it be possible to replace the Librarian Manual with a Librarian Wiki?

That way, we could have an entire category on Librarian Policy instead of just a single manual page. Also, we currently rely on Otis & Co. to update the manual with new information; a wiki would remove that burden from them while still allowing us to keep the guidelines up to date.

In addition to policy, we could create "how to" guides for new librarians that focus on the most common circumstances we see in this discussion group. A wiki is a much easier way to edit and organize such guides than discussion topics. Similarly, it makes collaborating on author disambiguation easier.

I understand that implementing more Wikipedia-like features on the site itself will take time. Meanwhile, adding a wiki as a supplement to the Librarian group will go a long way to making us more Wikipedia-like from a policy perspective.


message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments Hmm. Ben, Wikipedia has a lot of incorrect information, so I'm not sure how I feel about this. Maybe in addition to an official librarian manual?


message 25: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock (tachyondecay) | 61 comments Lisa wrote: "Hmm. Ben, Wikipedia has a lot of incorrect information, so I'm not sure how I feel about this. Maybe in addition to an official librarian manual?"

Wikipedia actually has a marvellous track record, with glaring errors caught and corrected very quickly. Unfortunately, it's usually only the scandals that get everyone's attention.

It's true that Wikipedia has a somewhat unreliable nature, but that's a result of the fact that anyone may edit its content. A Librarian Wiki would only be open to Goodreads Librarians. While you're still going to have a small number of librarians who make unwise or irresponsible edits, the majority of librarians are responsible enough to revert those edits. If it truly becomes necessary to mitigate unwanted edits to the librarian manual portion, I can see us having a system where only super-librarians can edit the librarian manual pages, while the rest of us contribute in draft pages. This would still be more efficient than the current system.

Also, we're dealing with much less content than Wikipedia. It will be easier to monitor. And unlike Wikipedia, it won't be an encyclopedia per se; it's a collaborative tool. Librarian policy is always under discussion (that's what we have this group for) so by its nature, the wiki's mutable structure lends itself to the way we craft policy. I agree that it would be useful to designate certain pages, like the manual pages, as "official" guidelines, rather than suggested policies.


message 26: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Ben wrote: "Also, we currently rely on Otis & Co. to update the manual with new information"

Actually, I've mostly taken that on. I'm more than happy to edit/add anything reasonable in. :)


message 27: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock (tachyondecay) | 61 comments rivka wrote: "Actually, I've mostly taken that on. I'm more than happy to edit/add anything reasonable in. :)"

Ah, I wasn't aware you were able to edit the manual. :)


message 28: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Only as of relatively recently. *suppresses evil laugh*

Ah, heck with it.

[image error]


message 29: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
I saw a talk about Wikipedia that basically said 80% of the changes were done by 20% of the people (ie the people reading this thread), but 80% of the content was added by people who only edited one or two pages. Therefore I believe that to limit those newbies from participating would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

I love the idea of making the librarian manual fully editable. We'll have to add that sometime. In the meantime Rivka or I can easily add suggestions.

I'm making two more changes:

* There will be a new field when editing a book "changes comment" that librarians can fill out explaining why they are making the change. This will go on the change log.
* An "undo" link on the change log to easily revert any change.

Can we also requite users requesting librarian privileges to enter something in the "why" field? Right now it's optional.

Way ahead of you :)



message 30: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments Otis, Those are both great Thanks.


message 31: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
THANK YOU! All of those are great, and the undo one most especially.


message 32: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments I have a question: If undo is selected, does that completely erase what the other librarian has done or does the activity continue to show in the librarian change log? Thanks to any of you who have been doing librarian work since the undo feature was implemented.


message 33: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
Undo is the same as editing the page and changing it to what was there before that persons change.


message 34: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments Thanks Otis. That is clear, and this will be so helpful. Thank you.


message 35: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 577 comments Otis wrote: * There will be a new field when editing a book "changes comment" that librarians can fill out explaining why they are making the change. This will go on the change log.
* An "undo" link on the change log to easily revert any change.


Great changes, thanks!


message 36: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments I like the guidelines that now appear with each book while in "edit page" mode. ;-) Nice!

Question:

For the "official URL" the guidelines indicate linking to the author's website is fine, but not to a book seller.

Because, several times, I've had people question me where I got my edit data: series numbers, synopsis, harlequin #, etc, I started putting in my "source."

Like fiction db (with info to direct link to exactly the page I used) or fantastic fiction. But, they are sellers, so do I need to stop this and remove that information? I could move it to the new comments field?



message 37: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Otis, when do you anticipate having the series feature up and running? Plugging in the series information into specific areas on the edit page and letting GRs format it in a uniformed way may help alleviate the editing wars that seem to be going on.

I saw how wikipedia handled the editing wars with their arbitration/discussion. Interesting.


message 38: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Notice that sometimes the librarian log doesn't show all changes. I've commented on this before.

For instance, when I joined, I saw book, series format to go like this: Book Title (Series Name, Book #1) and the bulk of my edits were like that because it seemed to follow the guidelines and looked like the pattern previously started.

I find the comma out now and, often the log does not indicate who took it out. It will show me from long ago, putting a comma in, then others revised (something) and no comma shows on the title. But the log doesn't show they took the comma out, but maybe changed something else.

Is it possible not all changes are tracked in the librarian log? Would it be possible to more clearly indicate what was changed when looking at the log?


message 39: by Eva (new)

Eva Leger (EvaMarie22) | 756 comments I just wanted to say how nice the editing page is now! It's wonderful- this will surely help non librarians who go to list a book in the future. Great job!


JG (The Introverted Reader) | 462 comments Kathrynn, rivka showed me a trick that helped me find a librarian's edits easier. Separate out one book that has the change you're looking for and look at that librarian log. I don't know if it shows more, or if it's just easier to find, but I did find what I was looking for that way.


message 41: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments JG wrote: "Kathrynn, rivka showed me a trick that helped me find a librarian's edits easier. Separate out one book that has the change you're looking for and look at that librarian log. I don't know if it s..."

That makes sense, JG. I hadn't thought of that. Thank you. :-)




message 42: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Kathrynn wrote: "I could move it to the new comments field?"

Probably a better place for them. Sounds like the info is really for other librarians, not for hoi polloi. ;)


message 43: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Gotcha. :-)


message 44: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Uh-oh. The Librarian Change Log link seems to be missing from the edit page...


message 45: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments It was moved to above the spot for the title of the book.


message 46: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 2373 comments I didn't find it the first time either. ;-)


message 47: by jenjn79 (new)

jenjn79 | 565 comments Me either. I went to click and it wasn't there. Confused the heck out of me for a minute. And I still keep going to the wrong spot to click the link.


message 48: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 28044 comments Mod
Isis FG wrote: "Me either. I went to click and it wasn't there. Confused the heck out of me for a minute. And I still keep going to the wrong spot to click the link."

Ditto!


message 49: by Kathrynn (new)

Kathrynn | 189 comments Thank you, ladies. I see it now. :-)


message 50: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
Rivka showed me a trick that helped me find a librarian's edits easier. Separate out one book that has the change you're looking for and look at that librarian log

You shouldn't need to do that. I just added a toggle to show just the edits for a particular edition.


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