Publication Date


Document Type



Library and Information Science


Objectives: To find the level of interest of medical librarians in social tagging, which sites are the most popular, how social tagging is being used, and to determine if there is a relationship between years in the profession and use of tagging.

Methods: A 16 question online survey was administered to a random sample (n=348) of MLA members.

Results: One hundred fifty six surveys were returned for a response rate of 45%. Forty-seven percent of the sample used tagging with a 95% confidence interval of 39% to 55%. More experienced librarians appeared to use tagging less. General sites ( and Flickr) were used more than specialized sites. Sixty-seven percent used tagging for organization, 60% for discovery, 11% for outreach, 21% for education, 41% for collaboration, and 48% for personal use only.

Discussion: User tagging is still a new technology for medical librarians; roughly half have used it. The survey methodology is inherently biased towards positive results due to nonresponse error. Some librarians are using tagging as bookmarking and others are using its sophisticated features for discovery or collaboration. User tagging is a growing trend, but the jury is still out on whether it useful in advancing the goals of the profession.


Social tagging; Medical Library Association; Web 2.0; Surveys

DOI of Published Version



J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 April; 97(2): 136–139. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID


finalresultsnames removed.pdf (109 kB)
data set for the survey