donderdag 13 november 2014

Keywords! Maps! Let's dive in.

Last week I blogged about maps and keywords: Library and user: one interest? I presented a few maps, created with Gephi, with which I tried to compare the activities of the library staff with the interests of OPAC users. I talked about general subjects like 'international criminal law', 'space debris' and things like that.

These maps can also be used to get a detailed picture, although I admit the presented maps are a bit difficult to read after zooming in. However, librarians can use Gephi itself to do detailed research in order to find out what our patrons are looking for.
See for example this image, clipped from the Gephi overview graph frame, which shows keywords all about art, trade and illegal activities in just a tiny section of the map. I think librarians can use such insights to better facilitate their users, especially if they detect returning patterns in searches during a longer period.

If librarians can 'translate' these insights in more relevant acquisitions, improvements in their research guides (in this case the Peace Palace Library, Cultural Heritage) or write specific blogs or tweets, I'am sure interested visitors will return to the library.

Of course users can manipulate the map with OPAC searches and focus on just one group (to the left you see the International Criminal Law group), but even one large group can be quite intimidating. Nevertheless those users who take some time can obtain a thorough knowledge about keywords grouped around one or two core subjects of the Peace Palace Library. Just start selecting a group using 'Group Selector' then click the largest bubble and check all the other keywords in the 'Information Pane'.

Librarians may use some of the more specific possibilities Gephi offers to look at maps in a very specific way. They may use for instance "Betweenness Centrality numbers" to look at 'broker' keywords, thus getting an idea about intermediaries. This knowledge too, I repeat, can be used to better respond to the needs of library users. I will write about this another time.

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