"Readers who borrowed this also borrowed...": Recommender systems in UK libraries

Simon Wakeling, Paul Clough, Barbara Sen, Lynn Silipigni Connaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Moves towards more interactive services on the web have led libraries to add an increasing range of functionality to their OPACS. Given the prevalence of recommender systems on the wider web, especially in e-commerce environments, this paper aims to review current research in this area that is of particular relevance to the library community. It attempts to gauge the uptake of recommender systems in exiting OPAC services, and identify issues that might be responsible for inhibiting wider uptake. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on an extensive literature review, as well as original research comparing the functionality of 211 public and 118 university library OPACs in the UK. Examining current recommender systems research, it outlines the most significant recommendation models and reviews research in two key areas of recommender systems design: data acquisition, and the explanation of recommendations. It discusses three existing library recommendation systems: BibTip, LibraryThing for Libraries and the in-house system at the University of Huddersfield. Findings: The authors' analysis indicates that the incorporation of recommender systems into library services is extremely low, with only 2 per cent of public libraries and 11 per cent of university libraries in the UK offering the feature. While system limitations and budget constraints are perhaps partly to blame, it is suggested that library professionals have perhaps yet to be persuaded that the value of recommendations to library users is great enough to warrant their inclusion becoming a priority. Originality/value: This paper represents the first study of UK library OPACs to focus on the prevalence of recommender systems. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-150
Number of pages17
JournalLibrary Hi Tech
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 02 Mar 2012


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