Tuesday, January 26, 2010

C. Vinson: Winner - 2009 Sara Aull Student Paper Award

In December 2009, NCSLA announced the winner of the 2009 Sara Aull Paper Award at their Annual Banquet.

The Sara Aull Paper Award is awarded annually to recognize the best student paper of publishable quality relating to special libraries. The winner of the Sara Aull Student Paper Award receives the following:
  • A $1000 cash prize, to be presented at the NCSLA annual banquet Dec. 3, 2009 at Biaggi's in Cary, NC
  • An abstract of his/her paper published on the NCSLA Web site and distributed through NCSLA Communicates!, the Chapter newsletter.
This year's winner is C. Vinson, a graduate student in the Library Science program at UNC-Greensboro.

Vinson's paper, titled: Social Tagging for Special Libraries, received the award based on the following criteria:
  1. Originality
  2. Relevance to the field of special librarianship
  3. Usefulness of the topic to special libraries
  4. Professionalism of presentation
  5. Research and support
  6. Clarity of expression
  7. Overall quality of the paper, publishable on the NCSLA website

Here is an abstract of this year's winning paper:

“Social tagging" allows users to apply their own metadata, words or phrases, to a collection of photos, websites, scientific articles, books, or other items.Unlike traditional library subject headings, social tags tend to have a flat structure with multiple tags for the same concept or multiple concepts in the same tag, better resembling natural rather than formal categories. They inherit their structure directly from users rather than through catalogers as intermediaries, a feature of interest to libraries dealing with specialized audiences and collections. Studies of social tagging in practice indicate that under optimal conditions it can perform as well as traditional methods of information retrieval, but that more often that it performs worse; however, social tagging combined with other tools can perform better than either the other tools or social tagging can in isolation. Case studies for audiences similar to those of most special libraries suggest it may offer as much to them as to more generalized audiences. Research also indicates that the problem of user incentives is surmountable. The complexity of pricing and the diversity of options makes it impossible to answer in general whether social tagging is worth the investment, but promising early results suggest special libraries should consider exploring it.

This award was initiated in 1981 to honor Sara Aull who served as editor of the NCSLA Bulletin from 1975 to 1981. Sara had been an active member of the Special Libraries Association from 1952 (then as Science Librarian at the University of Houston in Texas) until her death in January 1998 in Landis, NC. In 1973 Sara Aull received the honor of being inducted into the SLA Hall of Fame.