Why medical librarians should care about tagging

I was already working on a post about tagging, but I got email the other day from one of my favorite medical librarians that helped me pull it together. This medical librarian wrote:

I’ve been wondering what the point to tagging is in the clinical field, when we have (as I see it) a really useful controlled vocab… maybe consumer health or somesuch? Just don’t get it. (rhetorical question)

There are a few ways social bookmarking might be used

  • First, one could use MeSH terms for social bookmarking tags if one chose to. If an individual medical library wishes to index various Web resources using MeSH, I can think of no more convenient way to do it than with del.icio.us or a similar social bookmarking tool.
  • What if one wants to categorize Web resources based on the roles or positions in the hospital to which they might be of most use? One could create a series of tags like staff_development, ED_docs, ED_nurses or RNs. Each of these tags can output its own RSS feed, so this would be an incredibly quick and efficient way to recommend particular Web resources to particular segments of the library’s clinical patrons.
  • I frequently use del.icio.us to mark items for later follow-up, using tags like blog_this, try_this, or read_later. When I stumble across something that would be useful in reference to something I’m writing, I’ll even user tags likeMLANews_article
  • On your library’s intranet site, do you organize links to internet sites of clinical interest to your patrons by MeSH? Most that I have seen don’t. However, you can adapt social bookmarking tags to suit whatever organizational schemes your intranet uses, and have them populate to the page as soon as you tag them in del.icio.us.

But these are just a few ideas- how else can social bookmarking be used in a medical library? Which social bookmarking tools are best suited for clinical purposes? I’ve played with Connotea and CiteULike, but not enough to have useful thoughts about them.

Since Ratcatcher knows more about social bookmarking than I do, I asked her if she’d write a post on the topic as well. Go and check it out over on her blog.

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