A Matter of Happenstance
by Dick Kaser
Of all the concepts discussed among librarians, I have always been the most intrigued by the notion of serendipity: those seemingly random instances when you discover just the book, fact, or reference that turns out to be exactly what you need at that very moment. You may not even know you are looking for something, and yet, you suddenly find it. The effect is real. I often experience it myself, so I’m inclined to rave about it.
More than one librarian has reminded me that it doesn’t necessarily hurt that there’s a classification system for arranging similar books on shelves as well as metadata operating in the background of an electronic catalog search. But those techniques are only the start of how librarians can facilitate serendipitous discovery.
Need I say more than the word “makerspace”? In this issue, Corrine Luthy teaches you what she’s taught many other librarians: how to make a makerspace in your library and help your patrons discover things through the process of playing with stuff. Sounds like serendipity to me.
Marshall Breeding takes the topic head-on in his column about creating serendipity in today’s virtual libraries. Terence Huwe talks about the serendipity that comes out of Big Data analysis. And Robin Hastings provides an update on linked data, which—to the extent it currently exists for library records—already facilitates serendipitous discovery on the open web.
For the archivists among our readership, we also have a terrific guest column this month from Laura Capell on building a collection out of records that are born-digital.
Who knows—as you peruse this issue, you just may happen upon something you didn’t know you were looking for.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor