Archive for the 'LAM (Libraries, Archives, Museums)' Category

Another Step on the Road to Developer Support Nirvana

Monday, March 10th, 2014 by Roy

devnetToday we released a brand spanking new web site for library coders. It has some cool features including a new API Explorer that will make it a lot easier for software developers to understand and use our application program interfaces (APIs). But seen from a broader perspective, this is just another way station on a journey we began some years ago to enable our member libraries to have full machine access to our services.

When I joined OCLC in May 2007, I immediately began collaborating with my colleagues in charge of these efforts, as I knew many library developers and had been active in the Code4Lib community. As a part of this effort, we flew in some well-known library coders to our headquarters in Dublin, OH, to pick their brains about the kinds of things they would like to see us do, which helped us to form a strategy for ongoing engagement.

From there we hired Karen Coombs, a well-known library coder from the University of Houston, to lead our engagement efforts. Under Karen’s leadership we engaged with the community in a series of events we began calling hackathons, although we soon changed to calling them “mashathons” in response to the pejorative nature the term “hack” had in Europe. In those events we brought together library developers to spend a day or two of intense learning and open development. The output of those events began populating our Gallery of applications and code libraries.

Karen also dug into the difficult, but very necessary, work to more thoroughly and consistently document our APIs. Her yeoman work in this regard helped to provide a more consistent and easier to understand and use set of documentation from which we continue to build upon and improve.

When Karen was moved into another area of work within OCLC to better use her awesome coding ability, Shelley Hostetler was hired to carry on this important work.

In this latest web site release I think you will find it even easier to understand and navigate. One essential difference is it is much easier to get started since we have better integrated information about, and access to, key requesting and management when those are required (some services do not require a key).

Although this new site offers a great deal to developers who want to know how to use our growing array of web services, we recognize it is but another step along the road to developer nirvana. So check it out and let us know how we can continue to improve. As always, we’re listening!

 

Registering researchers in authority files

Monday, October 29th, 2012 by Karen

Last month we launched a new task group of OCLC Research Library Partner staff and others who are involved in uniquely identifying authors and researchers that can be shared in a linked data environment.

We were spurred by institutions’ need to uniquely identify all their researchers to measure their scholarly output, a factor in reputation and ranking. Yet national authority files cover researchers only partially. They do not include authors that write only journal articles, or researchers who don’t publish but create or contribute to data sets and other research activities.

We see a number of activities in this “name space” with potential overlap, including: the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), Open Researchers & Contributor ID (ORCID), the Dutch Digital Author Identifier system (DAI), The Names Project in the UK, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging’s NACO program, researcher profile systems such as VIVO, and Current Research Information Systems (CRIS).

The Registering Researchers in Authority Files Task Group will document the benefits of researcher identification; significant challenges; trade-offs among the current approaches; and mechanisms for linking approaches and data. We are starting with use case scenarios, for example:

  • Researchers who want to identify others in their field
  • Institutions that need to collate the intellectual output of their researchers
  • Funders who want to track the outputs for awarded grants
  • Services providing persistent identifiers for researchers that need to disambiguate names.and ensure correct attributions.

We are hoping that our report will help address all of the above needs, and suggest approaches for linking data from different sources in a coherent way. Details on this activity and the task group roster —including experts from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are on our new Registering Researchers in Authority Files activity page on the OCLC Research website.

If there are systems or “name authority hubs” you want to make sure we look at, please let us know with a comment below.

 

OAICatMuseum now supports the LIDO XML Schema

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by Bruce

One of the contributions made by OCLC Research to its Museum Data Exchange project was the OAICatMuseum OAI-PMH repository software. OAICatMuseum is an extension to OCLC’s OAICat software that included support for delivering records in the CDWA Lite XML schema.

Since that project completed in 2009, work has continued within the cultural materials community towards improving the ways in which object descriptions can be conveyed in machine-readable form. One result of that work is the LIDO (Lightweight Information Describing Objects) schema. Version 1 of the schema was announced at the ICOM/CIDOC conference in November 2010. LIDO was built upon the success of CDWA Lite, the German Museum Association’s museumdat, and input from the community and technology professionals.

Though a relatively recent descriptive standard, LIDO is already seeing increasing use, particularly in Europe. To facilitate its use, over the past few months we worked closely with David Parsell of the Yale Center for British Art and with Ben Rubenstein and colleagues at Cognitive Applications to extend OAICatMuseum to support LIDO XML output.

The updated version of OAICatMuseum (version 1.1) is now available from the OCLC Research website.

Thick Description: Fingerprints, Sonnets, and Aboutness in Special Collections

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by Jennifer

Discoverability of special collections has long been a top concern of the OCLC Research Library Partnership.  What works? Break out of the OPAC? Beyond MARC? End run around EAD?

Constance recently started a conversation here in the office about “catablogs.”  She’d seen that NYU’s Chela Weber taught a workshop in New York about how to use a blog as a low-overhead collection management system.  A “catablog” can create searchable, browseable online presentations of collections.

Today the Atlantic posted a short article about the impact of blogging rare books. At St Andrews, Daryl Green’s blog played an unusual role in what are otherwise standard special collections procedures – identifying new acquisitions and raising scholarly and financial support. (Book-nerd disclosure: I’ve been following Daryls’ blog for his 52 weeks of fantastic bindings, but Constance sent me the Atlantic article this morning.)

Ellen’s blogging about collections in ArchiveGrid is driving a healthy amount of traffic to ArchiveGrid itself. This is exactly the kind of research question we wanted to pursue with ArchiveGrid. Bruce has wondered if commentary and interpretation wouldn’t improve discovery and make it easier for a researcher to decide what to pursue.

This has prompted me to revisit The Metadata IS the Interface and user studies of relationships between description and discovery or use. Archivists and librarians contribute to discovery when they discard illusions of neutrality and express their excitement for the materials and their opinions about their significance. MARC and EAD have enhanced our management of collections, but don’t necessarily serve all the needs of our users these days.

Over on the RBMS-ish (rare books and manuscripts) side of our profession, considerable thought has been given recently to more rich description – “records more like sonnets,” as the Beinecke’s Ellen Elickson put it. I might borrow a term from the anthropologist Cliff Geertz and call it “thick description.” Michelle Light and Tom Hyry have advocated post-modern colophons and annotations. One of the RBMS hipsters has been arguing it is time to bust out of “the coldness of our description.” Mark Dimunation (Library of Congress) and others have imagined meaty and flexible descriptions of special collections like a wheel: hub and spoke. Merrilee blogged about Mark’s talk:

“Dimunation has been intrigued by James Asher’s call for progressive bibliography in which catalog records are viewed as hubs where information can be linked in, or hung on the core record as necessary. In this way, additional information can accrue over time, and doesn’t necessarily need to be contained in the catalog. Links to information that lives outside the catalog form a virtual vertical file that can document unique characteristics, and help form the fingerprint of an item.”

When I first joined OCLC Research, in the days of Shifting Gears, I thought that I’d wasted the past 10 years of my career building curated web exhibits of boutique collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives. In 2007 we needed to scale up digitization. Now my thinking is coming full circle. Curated blogs and exhibits, combined with the voice of the librarian/archivist, accomplish exactly what we’ve always wanted – to make collections visible and increase their impact.

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Yet more social metadata for LAMs

Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by Karen

Today we released Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 3: Recommendations and Readings. This is the last in a series of three reports a 21-member Social Metadata Working Group from five countries produced as the result of our research in 2009 and 2010.

The cultural heritage organizations in the OCLC Research Library Partnership have been eager to expand their reach into user communities and to take advantage of users’ expertise to enrich their descriptive metadata. Social metadata—content contributed by users—is evolving as a way to both augment and recontexutalize the content and metadata created by LAMs.

Our first report, Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 1: Site Reviews, provides an environmental scan of sites and third-party hosted social media sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums. We noted which social media features each site supported, such as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, ratings, recommendations, lists, links to related articles, etc.

Our second report, Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 2: Survey Analysis, analyzed the results from a social metadata survey of site managers conducted from October to November 2009. Forty percent of the responses came from outside the United States. More than 70 percent had been offering social media features for two years or less. The vast majority of respondents considered their sites to be successful.

This third report provides eighteen recommendations and an annotated list of all the resources the working group consulted. The key message: “We believe it is riskier to do nothing and become irrelevant to your user communities than to start using social media features.” Among our recommendations:

  • Establish clear objectives and determine what metrics you need to measure success.
  • Leverage the enthusiasm of your user communities to contribute.
  • Look at other sites similar to your own that are already using social media features successfully before you start.
  • Consider using third-party hosted social media sites rather than creating your own.

All three reports total over 300 pages, so we’ve also prepared a much shorter Executive Summary with the highlights from all three reports.

The reports and the recording of our 9 March 2012 Webinar are all available here. We look forward to hearing your feedback – perhaps on our Social Metadata for LAMs Facebook page?

As with many OCLC Research publications, this report was written to help meet the needs of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The Partnership not only inspires but also underwrites this type of work, so many thanks to the institutions who both contribute to and support our work!

 

 

 

Social metadata for LAMs on Facebook

Monday, March 12th, 2012 by Karen

Since sites relevant to libraries, archives and museums that support social metadata are changing and new ones are appearing quickly, the Social Metadata Working Group wanted to have a way for others to share information about the new or enhanced sites they come across. They also wanted to be able to point to interesting articles, blogs and videos related to social metadata and social media. 

Following several of the group’s recommendations (in our third report, to be published soon) such as look at what others have done and consider using third-party hosted sites rather than creating your own, we’ve  created a Social Metadata for LAMs Facebook page.

Please visit the page and “like” it so you’ll see all future postings on your own Facebook wall. We also encourage you to post any comments you have about our Social Metadata for LAMs reports, new social media “site sightings” relevant to libraries, archives or museums,  or related information.

I look forward to seeing some of you on FB!

 

More social metadata for LAMs

Monday, January 16th, 2012 by Karen

Today we released Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 2: Survey Analysis. This is the second of a series of three reports a 21-member Social Metadata Working Group from five countries produced as the result of our research in 2009 and 2010.

The cultural heritage organizations in the OCLC Research Library Partnership have been eager to expand their reach into user communities and to take advantage of users’ expertise to enrich their descriptive metadata. Social metadata—content contributed by users—is evolving as a way to both augment and recontexutalize the content and metadata created by LAMs.

Our first report, Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 1: Site Reviews, provides an environmental scan of sites and third-party hosted social media sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums. We noted which social media features each site supported, such as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, ratings, recommendations, lists, links to related articles, etc.

The second report is our analysis of the results from a social metadata survey of site managers conducted from October to November 2009. Forty percent of the responses came from outside the United States. A few highlights:

  • More than 70 percent had been offering social media features for two years or less.
  • Engaging new or existing audiences is used as a success criteria more frequently than any other criteria.
  • A minority of survey respondents are concerned about the way the site’s content is used or repurposed outside the site.
  • Spam and abusive user behavior are sporadic and easily managed.
  • The survey results indicate that engagement is best measured by quality, not quantity.
  • The vast majority of respondents considered their sites to be successful.

The upcoming third report provides recommendations on social metadata features most relevant to libraries, archives, and museums and factors contributing to success and an annotated list of all the resources the working group consulted.

As with many OCLC Research publications, this report was written to help meet the needs of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The Partnership not only inspires but also underwrites this type of work, so many thanks to the institutions who both contribute to and support our work!

We look forward to hearing your feedback!

 

 

 

Social metadata for LAMs

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 by Karen

Metadata helps users locate resources that meet their specific needs. But metadata also helps us to understand the data we find and helps us to evaluate what we should spend our time on. Traditionally, staff at libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) create metadata for the content they manage. However, social metadata—content contributed by users—is evolving as a way to both augment and recontexutalize the content and metadata created by LAMs.

The cultural heritage organizations in the OCLC Research Library Partnership are eager to expand their reach into user communities and to take advantage of users’ expertise to enrich their descriptive metadata. In 2009 and 2010, a 21-member Social Metadata Working Group from five countries reviewed 76 sites of most relevance to libraries, archives, and museums that supported such social media features as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, ratings, recommendations, lists, links to related articles, etc. The working group analyzed the results of a survey sent to site managers and discussed the factors that contribute to successful—and not so successful—use of social metadata. The working group considered issues related to assessment, content, policies, technology, and vocabularies. Central to the working group’s interest was how to take advantage of the array of potential user contributions that would improve and deepen their users’ experiences.

Our first of three reports, Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Part 1: Site Reviews, provides an environmental scan of sites and third-party hosted social media sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums. It summarizes the results of our review, captured in the “At a Glance: Sites that Support Social Metadata” spreadsheet, and more detailed reviews of 24 representative sites. Cyndi Shein, assistant archivist at the Getty Research Institute, wrote the section on LAMs’ use of third-party sites and blogs. The second report is an analysis of the results from a survey of site managers conducted from October to November 2009. The third report provides recommendations on social metadata features most relevant to libraries, archives, and museums and factors contributing to success and an annotated list of all the resources the working group consulted.

As with many OCLC Research publications, this report was written to help meet the needs of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The Partnership not only inspires but also underwrites this type of work, so many thanks to the institutions who both contribute to and support our work!

We look forward to hearing your feedback!

 

Special delivery

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Jennifer

Deliver a lot. Deliver a little. It’s all about delivery. We’ve been doing a lot of work around here on strategies to make it easy for users to get their ‘hands’ on special collections.

Most recently, Ricky published a snazzy piece on mechanics for large-scale digitization of non-book materials,  Rapid capture. These real-life examples dovetail nicely with her work (with Merrilee) about balancing rights and risks, rallying the community around reasonable practices when digitizing whole collections for access.

On the other hand, the Working Group on scanning and cameras has just published Scan and deliver in order to clear the air about user-initiated digitization. We give ourselves permission to just get the job done, by quickly scanning what someone needs and handing it to them promptly. If you have resources, you can choose when to scale up, maybe even going as far as digitizing the whole volume or collection, as long as it is in hand.

Whether we’re scanning an item requested by a user or digitizing an entire collection, it’s all about delivering up the collections we are privileged to manage.

 

OCLC Research Library Partnership – a word about intent

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Jim

I’m just returning from an OCLC board meeting and the Global Council meeting that followed it. OCLC Research was given some nice support by the board in the launch of the OCLC Research Library Partnership (all of the trustees representing libraries have already affiliated or are positively inclined) and there was a recognition that it fit with OCLC’s other investments in fostering and renewing our channels of engagement with OCLC members. There was also some discussion among the Global Council delegates about the launch. Some of it favorable, some not and some confused.

Some of the confusion came from delegates who had received invitations but not had any follow-up. Others wondered why they’d been approached. And others wondered why they hadn’t. Some of this confusion comes from timing – our follow-on to the invitations hadn’t yet caught up with all the invitees while our broader outreach and announcements hadn’t yet begun.

The unfavorable comments converged around a few key concerns.

The Partnership represented an opportunity and outreach to a particular sector of OCLC members that isn’t duplicated for others.

The Partnership by reaching out to research libraries and requiring dues is a vehicle for large institutions to buy influence.

The Partnership by requiring dues represents the only member activity that has a separate fee for participation. (Of course, products and services are always priced but membership in the cooperative is not.)

Lorcan and I were able to talk to many of the delegates about these concerns during the breaks. I thought some of what we said might be of broader interest given that I blogged about the Partnership here just a few days ago.

Basically I tried to unpack the phrase

    OCLC Research Library Partnership.

This is OCLC Research Partnering with Libraries
The work of OCLC Research needs to be focused on genuine library concerns and issues. A lot of that work can be done most effectively and with the most impact if it is done collaboratively with libraries that have the capacities, interests, and resources to invest in this work. We welcome any library that wants to work in this way. Often larger institutions have the capacity and will but there are many smaller libraries as well as specialized institutions that have comparable capacities.

This is Libraries Partnering with OCLC Research
Libraries investing in solutions to problems, in approaches to new issues and in the development of possible future library services want to leverage the capacities of OCLC Research as well as work collaboratively with other similarly motivated institutions.

This is OCLC Partnering with Research Libraries
Research libraries are one of OCLC’s most important constituencies both as contributors to the cooperative and as consumers of its services. We need and want to understand their working issues and challenges. Often these are experienced earlier and with degrees of complexity that ultimately became broadly felt in the library community. Our ability to reflect those issues and challenges in our strategy as well as the products and services that support libraries is good for the cooperative.

There are dues associated with the OCLC Research Library Partnership because working collaboratively requires dedicated resources to make it happen effectively. Partnering demands issue identification, community building, working group support, and the synthesis and socialization of outcomes. OCLC Research has some staff effort dedicated to that kind of support and leadership. The dues supplement the OCLC funding and partially offset what would otherwise be incremental spending.

Dues buys that type of support. It doesn’t buy influence over direction of products or library support services. The future of the library community drives product strategy and then customers influence the product directions. Given that you might want to watch out for the Norwegians. ;) OCLC was fortunate enough to win a tender by BIBSYS , the national library system for Norway.