Friday, January 10, 2014

Why I link to Worldcat

We make choices every day and one of the things that I have learned while at seminary is to try and look at the deeper meaning behind our choices and to really think deeply about our actions. One choice you have to make when blogging involves what to do when mentioning a book. It seems like the norm on the internet is to link to the book's Amazon page. On many levels this makes good sense

  • if someone is reading your blog then there's a very good chance they will know about Amazon
  • they are a trusted seller on the internet
  • it is very rare to find books that aren't listed and available on Amazon
Personally when it comes to books I prefer Barnes and Noble. I still enjoy going to a brick and mortar store to peruse the shelves and I realize the financial realities that they need to also sell books online in order to keep those physical locations open. Because of that I used to link to the bn.com pages for books instead of Amazon.com.

The more I thought about this practice, however, the more I started to question my motivations. I also gave some thought to the explicit and implicit messages I was sending to whoever clicked on the link I had made. I was certainly endorsing whichever company I linked to and recommending their services to those that trusted me enough to read my words. But what wasn't I saying at the same time? What options were being left out?

Whenever I mention a book title I have now made the choice to link to Worldcat. Worldcat is "the world's largest library catalog" and links to libraries worldwide. Because the website can find your location geographically they can find the libraries closest to you that have the book you are viewing. I feel that linking to this kind of resource sends a different message, and it is one that speaks a message about community and not capitalism. The Library used to be as much the center of community as the church, but many local libraries no longer have the funding they need to stay viable and are closing. One of the reasons they are closing is because people just aren't going to the Library anymore so local municipalities don't feel the need to provide funding. Also, the library doesn't have the opportunity to build relationships with local donors.

If more of us start directing our readers to the local library instead of the huge booksellers, that might change. In my opinion more community is a good thing, more relationship with the others around us is a good thing. And that's why I link to Worldcat.

6 comments:

nicole miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicole miller said...

Thanks for this informative blog post, I have never heard of Worldcat before thank you for posting the link!

Nicole Roop said...

Hmmm...Community. Where have a I heard that this week? ;)

ihakk said...

Thanks for your post. I've used WorldCat before but wasn't conscious about linking to in in recommending books. Seems like I've been taking the default search results from Google (which of course have Amazon near the top.)

Mary Hess said...

that's an interesting idea... I tend to link to google books, where there is often if not a complete full text, at least a table of contents and an index

Nicole Welke said...

Thanks Chuck! I think it is very true when talked about the message something sends by where it is linked. it makes me think how often we send unintended ill-fated messages. WorldCat I had never heard of before so thanks for enlightening me.