Critique This Book: Longhorn Reviews

Although staff at UT Libraries don’t expect to see the death of the book in its traditional printed form anytime soon, they aren’t taking any chances. Staff members are constantly seeking new ways to integrate technology with long-standing library practices.

One new feature recently launched by the libraries is Longhorn Reviews, a Web 2.0 tool for the Library Catalog that allows users to submit reviews of titles housed at the university.

Matt Lisle, libraries information analyst and Longhorn Reviews project member, says user-generated reviews, a popular feature on commercial sites such as, have a natural home in the catalog.

“Our users appreciate their UT colleagues’ opinions on items that they’re browsing in the catalog,” Lisle says, citing a recent survey by Opinion Research Corporation that found 61 percent of respondents referenced reviews, blogs and other feedback before making purchase decisions.

Visitors to the online catalog can find reviews of items at the bottom of individual catalog records. If no review exists for the item, visitors are invited to submit one.

Longhorn Reviews complements other Web 2.0 features of the UT Libraries Web site, such as the embedded Google Book Search widget, LibraryThing tags and recommendations, and book cover images, all of which have been recently implemented to make the site more dynamic and interactive.