By Margaret Howard
The organization and cataloging of data is an art as integral to librarianship as is the need to consistently revolutionize how we actually do it. Over time our techniques and resources have evolved to give patrons fast and personalized methods to discover information that is useful and beneficial to their lives. At this point we are beginning to think about and consider what the catalog of the future will be and look like.
Enter Small Demons, a site dedicated to filtering information from books and providing connections between stories using places, people, brands, works of art, and even drinks that are mentioned within the stories. Valla Vakili, one of the site's co-founders and former Yahoo product VP states that "a book can take you anywhere, all we have to do is grab the details and connect them" (Albanese). The site has deals so far with Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Europa Editions to access those publishers' e-pub books and is working to pull out the details and catalog them.
What makes Small Demons innovative is that it organizes unique aspects of stories which were previously un-cataloged and delivers to readers a whole new way to connect with the books they love. The site genuinely is a "Storyverse" where users can quickly navigate through entire books and find the tiny details that spark their interests. It is also a dynamic tool that brings together the nuances within stories and delivers them quickly to users. The fact that it provides not only a source but also the actual quote or reference gives users a picture of how their search term, be it person, song, movie etc., is defined within the story, thus providing context and personalization.
Small Demons has a relatively short history and is sorting through the challenges of having limited resources and budget. Taking into account the colossal task and the precision required to organize "things" into meaningful categories, the website's scope is fairly limited and Small Demons still very much in beta stage. There are many books that still have yet to be cataloged, and the site is not yet open to crowd sourcing, preferring instead that users make a suggestion if they see something that needs correction. At this point in time librarians can offer to help and Small Demons has stated that they will reach out to us when they are ready to expand.
The future of Small Demons is yet to be determined but it is feasible that it is a hint of what the future of cataloging will look like. Something that not only ties together authors, titles, keywords, or subjects but also celebrities, vehicles, events, TV shows, drinks, and art. It is a reminder that cataloging is important and ever-changing and that we must constantly reinvent our work and look at new ways to do what we have always done. It also demonstrates the importance of stories and books to human happiness and the opportunities that libraries have to collaborate and offer richer content to our patrons.
Albanese, Andrew. "Small Demons Makes Big Splash At Frankfurt Book Fair." Publishers Weekly 258.43 (2011): 6-8. Library Literature & Information Science Index (H.W. Wilson). Web. 10 Oct. 2012.