Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

OCLC Control Numbers – Lots of them; all public domain

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by Jim

For the last few years I have been part of a group of OCLC staff charged with articulating data sharing practices that are consistent with the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative. We’ve made good progress towards openness while making expectations and practices more regular and consistent. The recommendation to use the ODC Attribution license, the release of substantial sets of bibliographic data and the understandings we reached with DPLA and Europeana are all part of that progress. we recommended that OCLC declare OCLC Control Numbers (OCN) as dedicated to the public domain. We wanted to make it clear to the community of users that they could share and use the number for any purpose and without any restrictions. Making that declaration would be consistent with our application of an open license for our own releases of data for re-use and would end the needless elimination of the number from bibliographic datasets that are at the foundation of the library and community interactions.

I’m pleased to say that this recommendation got unanimous support and my colleague Richard Wallis spoke about this declaration during his linked data session during the recent IFLA conference. The declaration now appears on the WCRR web page and from the page describing OCNs and their use.

We think this is important to do to counter act some practices based on misunderstandings that emerged from concerns about OCLC having an overly restrictive record use and re-use policy.

One of the most unfortunate grew up around the OCLC Control Number (OCN). The OCLC Control Number is a unique, sequentially assigned number associated with a record in WorldCat. The number is included in a WorldCat record when the record is created. More than one billion have been assigned. (Yes, a billion.) Some people thought that the Control Number represented a mechanism for identifying a record as having originated with OCLC and therefore subject to the cooperative’s record use policy.

This caused institutions to strip the OCN from bibliographic records. For similar reasons commercial information users would sometimes delete the OCN from the data that they used. This is unfortunate behavior that diminishes the value of the OCN as an identifier and compromises some of the innovation that could occur if the OCN were more universally used. It’s an important element in linked library data that helps in the creation and maintenance of work sets and provides a mechanism to disambiguate authors and titles.

More importantly the OCN is also widely used within the broad system of information that flows among libraries, national information agencies, commercial information providers and organizations that supply consumers with book and journal-oriented services. For instance,
• Cataloging and IT librarians download OCLC MARC bibliographic records to the library’s local system
• Resource sharing librarians using third party ILL management programs store or use the OCLC number for searching.
• Reference services librarians with WorldCat Local use it to help a patron locate an item

Publishers, vendors and others that partner with OCLC and libraries also use the OCN. For example,
• Integrated Library Service (ILS) vendors use the OCN to manage changes and updates within their application environment,
• Publishers, material suppliers and eContent providers use OCLC MARC bibliographic records in their systems and rely on the OCN as an identifier,
• Developers maintaining or expanding services use OCLC Control Numbers as an integral component of their application architecture.

All these good things can happen because of the identifying power of the OCN and its ubiquity in the library description domain. Everyone should use them and take advantage of what they can help you do. This declaration removes any residual concern that may have incorrectly informed operating practices. We hope it makes a difference.

The Power of In-Person

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 by Roy

jenisYou would be hard-pressed to find someone more reliant on electronic communication methods than I. Not only have I developed a presence in many online forums, starting back with the PACS-L list in the late 1980s and continuing through to Twitter and Facebook, I telecommute three days a week. Therefore, I rely on online communication methods to do my work on a daily basis. So I understand the use and impact of social networks and electronic communication methods like few do. But I also understand the use and impact of a handshake or a hug or a meal shared.

In other words, there are places for all types of human interaction, and one type does not replace another, it simply adds to the mix. And that is a good thing.

So that is why next week nearly all of us in the San Mateo office will be trekking back to the Mother Ship in Dublin, Ohio.  We do this on a regular basis, to share information with our Research colleagues, take meetings with other OCLC staff, and have a good time together as people. Through events like this we cement our connection and build ongoing relationships that carry us throughout the year.

“Sure,” you’re saying to yourself, “What you really go back to Dublin for is Jeni’s Ice Cream. I know you people and that alone would be sufficient to make the effort.” And yes, that alone might just be enough. But when you add all the other benefits it’s a slam dunk.

Reflections on a year as an OCLC Diversity Fellow

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 by Merrilee

[This post was written by Julianna Barrera-Gomez. I hope you will join me in congratulating Julianna on a successful year as a Diversity Fellow!]

Having just wrapped up my stint at OCLC Research as a 2012 OCLC Jay Jordan Diversity Fellow, I can now pause to reflect on my time there and the amazing opportunities I had. In my year-long position I got the chance to work with a lot of great people at OCLC, both inside and out of Research. The following is a sampling of things I got to do while here and some of the people I got to work with.

I started at OCLC as a member of Senior Research Scientist Lynn Silipigni-Connaway’s team, where I got a hearty dose of qualitative research support experience working with her various projects that evaluate the information seeking behavior of users (such as the Visitors and Residents and Cyber Synergy projects). Hours (and hours!) of team member time goes into devising methods of collecting and evaluating information. This includes things like formulating questions for phone interviews and online surveys, coming up with methods of analysis for the answers we receive, putting results and interviewee information into NVivo (a qualitative analysis software tool) and running queries, then hours more of analysis to come up with findings. All of that work is made worthwhile when we get to discuss findings and put them into a finished product, such as a paper or conference presentation. In addition to working with Lynn’s project, I also got to work with Postdoctoral Research Fellow Ixchel Faniel on her project titled Dissemination Information Packages for Information Reuse (DIPIR). I was very interested in working on these projects because I wanted to understand how users interact with various information systems (such as web-based databases and repositories) and what their expectations and issues are when finding and using online information. As an archivist, I leaped at the chance to be a part of these projects so I could learn how to replicate this sort of data gathering and analysis with archives users.

Poster from the DIPIR project presented at the 2013 iConference in Fort Worth, TX.  “A Comparative Study of Data Reuse among Quantitative Social Scientists and Archaeologists,” see the abstract at

Poster from the DIPIR project presented at the 2013 iConference in Fort Worth, TX. “A Comparative Study of Data Reuse among Quantitative Social Scientists and Archaeologists,” see the abstract at

Outside of the main office in Dublin, OH, I was able to work with the San Mateo, CA-based OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) members on an exciting archives project. I got an amazing chance to work with Program Officers Jackie Dooley and Ricky Erway on a report for their Demystifying Born Digital program, where I created experience-based recommendations (from our wonderfully helpful expert advisor group) and detail-rich advice on accessioning born-digital material. The report, titled Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house gave me the chance to learn even more about archiving born-digital material and to respond to an identified need for support from RLP members. We’re hoping the report will provide further assistance and hopefully stimulate discussion in the archives community that will in turn help those who read it. As always, Jackie and Ricky welcome feedback and ideas — they really want to hear from you!

One of the most enjoyable opportunities I had this year was the time to meet and work with people outside of OCLC Research. I couldn’t resist vising the OCLC Library and I was thrilled to get the chance to work with Curator Kemberly Lang, helping her process, arrange and describe archival collections. I got to surround myself with collections documenting the history of OCLC and the Dewey Decimal Classification System, including records from the Forest Press Editorial Policy Committee and theDewey Decimal Classification Editor’s Office.

An example of a digitized collection I worked on, the OCLC Pacific Network’s News Updates span from 1978-2004 on CONTENTdm

An example of a digitized collection I worked on, the OCLC Pacific Network’s News Updates span from 1978-2004 on CONTENTdm

I’ve had the opportunity to work on teams with researchers and partners of OCLC Research from several leading research universities, with member bases spanning several time zones. It’s been demanding, but it is so invigorating when we’re able to produce something that’s interesting and useful. It was an intense year, and the experience has given me numerous occasions to realize the importance of research. At conferences I was heartened to hear from attendees at our focus groups or our talks how much they appreciate our user focus and the data-driven outputs we share. Working at OCLC has also given me a unique view of the power of collaborative efforts to provide information and services to those who need it. I leave OCLC armed with new knowledge and anointed with zeal, ready to continue the effort to make archives and special collections more accessible and illuminating for users.

Attention SAA-goers

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 by Ricky

It is going to be hot in New Orleans — and I’m not just talking about the music and food. A while back I wrote an advisory for ALA-goers headed to New Orleans. That advice about restaurants, music, and other diversions is still good.

Seeing Kermit Ruffins, who trumpets as hard as he parties, is not optional. Fortunately you have several opportunities to punch your Kermit card:
-Sun Aug 11 at Kertmit’s Treme Speakeasy (1535 Basin St) 6pm
-Thurs Aug 15 at Vaughns (4229 Dauphine St.) 9pm
-Fri Aug 16 at Mid City Lanes Rock ’n’ Bowl (3000 South Carrollton) 9pm
-Sat Aug 17 at Little Gems Ramp Room ( 445 S. Rampart St) 7pm

There are a couple of opportunities to see Jon Cleary, a funky and skilled pianist/songwriter:
-Mon Aug 12 (with his band the Absolute Monsters) at The Maple Leaf (8316 Oak St.) 9pm
-Tues Aug 13 (solo) at Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St.) 8pm

Some other not-to-miss New Orleans favorites:
-Rebirth Brass Band, Tues Aug 13 at The Maple Leaf (8316 Oak St.) 10:30
-Mia Borders, Sat Aug 17 at the Oak Wine Bar (8118 Oak Street) 9pm
-John Boutte, Sat Aug 10 at dba (618 Frenchman St) 8pm – Deacon John follows at 11 or Sat Aug 17 at dba (618 Frenchman St) 8pm – Eric Lindell follows at 11
-and don’t miss Dr. John on Fri Aug 16 at Tipitina’s (501 Napoleon Ave.) 9pm

So that leaves Wednesday. You have to work this one out yourselves. Might be a good time to check out the ultra casual Spotted Cat (623 Frenchman St.) or the ultra-traditional Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter).

SAA during the day, dining in the evening, music at night, sleep when you return home.

OCLC Research 2012: Welcome new colleagues!

Monday, December 31st, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the the final posting in a short series, looking back on just some of what what’s happened in OCLC Research during 2012.

I think that 2012 must have been a banner year for new colleagues in OCLC Research, or maybe it just seems that way. I’ve already mentioned Max, but here are a few more.

We started off the year by welcoming Titia van der Werf. Titia works in our Leiden office, and focusses much of her attention on European partners and projects. She is also a welcome addition to the Mobilizing Unique Materials team.

Our European team was further bolstered by Shenghui Wang, who joined us in May. Like Titia, Shenghui works out of our Leiden offices. The focus of her work is on text and data mining, deepening our strengths in this area.

We are lucky to have one of OCLC’s Diversity Fellows working with us this year — Julianna Barrera-Gomez (based in our Dublin office) is working with Lynn Silipigni-Connaway and Ixchel Faniel on a variety of projects. We’re fortunate to have these talented young people working with us during their time at OCLC!

And speaking of new ideas, we had two colleagues who joined us in September and October for long visits. Takashi Shimada joined us as an OCLC Research Fellow. Taka (as he graciously allows us to call him) came to us from Keio University and spend time both in San Mateo and Dublin learning about activities within the OCLC Research Library Partnership, and helped us gain a better understanding and appreciation of the issues faced by Japanese research libraries. Simone Kortekaas from Utrecht University spent three weeks of her sabbatical in our Dublin offices, both learning and sharing. We welcome visits like this (whether long or short) because they help us know how our work can make an impact in a real world setting.

As we close out 2012, we look forward to 2013 and all we’ll learn during the coming year. We’ll be sharing it here with you, so stay tuned. We wish you a happy, productive, and peaceful year!

OCLC Research 2012: Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21st, 2012 by Merrilee

Taking a break from our end of year summary, which will continue next week after Christmas. Until then, happy holidays from us to you!


OCLC Research 2012: and the winner is…

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 by Merrilee

We are doing a mini series of blog postings to reflect on some of our accomplishments in 2012. This posting is the second in the series.

Each year, OCLC Research staff are honored in various ways. This year is no exception and in fact we seem to have had a bumper crop.

In March, Ixchel Faniel won the iConference Award for her paper “Managing Fixity and Fluidity in Data Repositories.” The paper was co-authored with University of Michigan School of Information Professor Elizabeth Yakel and two doctoral students, Morgan Daniels and Kathleen Fear. This is one of the many contributions that Ixchel is making to help us understand data repositories and digital curation.

In May, colleagues Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Patrick Confer won RUSA’s 2012 Reference Service Press Award for their article “‘Are We Getting Warmer?’: Query Clarification in Live Chat Virtual Reference.” Lynn and Patrick co-authored the article with research colleagues Marie L. Radford, Susanna Sabolcsi-Boros, and Hannah Kwon of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

You can hold your applause for Lynn, because in November she won the ALISE/Bohdan S. Wynar Research Paper Competition for her article “Not dead yet! A longitudinal study of query type and ready reference accuracy in live chat and IM reference,” to be published in Library & Information Science. Lynn and Marie have done a lot to improve our understanding of chat reference (and in my opinion have done much to underscore the value of basic customer service in libraries).

In October, our colleague Jeff Young was honored as the 2012 Kent State University SLIS Alumnus of the Year, an award given to a graduate who has made a significant contribution to the profession. Jeff’s was selected because of his important work sing Linked Data to increase the presence and discoverability of library data and materials on the web. One of these days, Jeff should get an special award for helping to explain linked data to his colleagues, but we haven’t gotten our act together yet.

Research colleagues also continue to be your “friends in high places”: Lynn was elected to the ASIS&T Board of Directors; Brian Lavoie was elected to the Dryad Data Repository Board of Directors; Eric Childress was invited to join the NISO Content and Collection Management Committee; and of course Jackie Dooley began her term as president of the Society of American Archivists (we still do get to see Jackie from time to time, although most of her blogging these days is over at Off the Record).

Finally, OCLC Research received an award of a different kind — funding! In June, JISC extended funding for the project “Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment?”. On our end, the work is being led by none other than Lynn Silipigni Connaway, who is working with David S. White from the University of Oxford. This project helps expand our transnational knowledge base about students and technology.

Congratulations to everyone, and best wishes for continued success in the new year.

Adventures in Hadoop #4: A Trivial Mechanism to Review Results

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 by Roy

As I’ve been learning more about how to use Hadoop via streaming, I discovered that I frequently needed an easy way to review records identified by a particular process. For example, my colleague Karen Smith-Yoshimura has recently been wanting to locate MARC records that have particular characteristics. She provides me with the set of characteristics she wants to use as a filter, and then I edit some existing Python code to perform the filter and find the records. In some cases as few as 8,000 records are pulled out from the more than 250 million records that now comprise WorldCat.

But then those records need to be viewed in some way. At the end of my process I gather up the output records into a file that consists of one line per record. In some cases I only output the OCLC number, but in other cases the entire record will be output following the OCLC number. Even in those cases, however, the line always begins with the OCLC number. That enables me to set up a simple process for reviewing the output.

To do this I wrote a simple CGI program that finds all of the files ending in “.txt” in a certain directory and lists them for the user to select. When the use clicks on a particular filename, the program parses the file, taking the OCLC number and setting up a couple links. One link is to the raw MARC record as it is stored in our HBase WorldCat table, and the other link takes the user to the record in I also send along a parameter that enables OCLC staff to see the XML or BER version of the record in Therefore, reviewing the records that are output by a Hadoop job is as simple as dropping the output file into a directory and going to that directory with a web browser. A few clicks is all it takes.

Enjoying the Scots

Friday, August 31st, 2012 by Jim

I had a very enjoyable conversation today with Martyn Wade, National Librarian and Chief Executive, of the National Library of Scotland. He made me aware of the relatively new legislation that updates the purpose and functions of the National Library. The library had been operating under legislation that dated from 1925. The new legislation positions the Library to fulfill the kind of role that the citizenry and other national and higher education institutions expect in the digital age. The legislation is brief, to the point, seems actionable and aims to be ‘future-proof’. It’s worth a quick look at 20 very generously-spaced pages. I was particularly taken with a subheading under NLS Functions:

NLS is to exercise its functions with a view to—
(a)encouraging education and research,
(b)promoting understanding and enjoyment of the collections,
(c)promoting the diversity of persons accessing the collections, and
(d)contributing to understanding of Scotland’s national culture.

I’m not aware of other library mission statements that explicitly call out the need to ensure that their collections are enjoyed. I like that very much.

In passing Martyn mentioned the library exhibit called Going to the pictures: Scotland at the cinema. In connection with this exhibit on the library’s Facebook page there was an opportunity to “Scot-ify” famous lines from the movies – Scotland at the Cinema Strikes Back. It’s ongoing and has been very successful. It’s charming and funny. Worth a look. Postcards made from some of the submissions will, of course, be available for sale in the library shop.

Actualizing “Actualizing Infotopia”: The SXSW Race

Monday, August 13th, 2012 by Max

We’ve made our application to SXSW to present what we think Infotopia could look like.

If you wanted to understand our SXSW proposal in an image it you could use the one below:

If you wanted the same understanding as video, you could watch the one below:

And finally, if you wanted to vote for us, and secure this presentation’s actualization you can click on the image below. (You’ll have to make a SXSW account unfortunately).

Max Klein @notconfusing Merrilee Proffitt @merrileeiam