Archive for February, 2010

OCLC Research @ University of Calgary

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Günter

As those of you who have listened to Tom Hickerson’s Distinguished Seminar Series lecture will know, the University of Calgary has embarked on an ambitious plan of integrating their libraries, archives and museums under a single administrative umbrella (Libraries & Cultural Resources or LCR). This convergence is catalyzed by a new building in the heart of the university’s campus, which will co-locate the units as well as many campus research, teaching & learning support functions. In latest news, last week a reorganization of LCR was announced to realign the staff with emerging priorities. The University of Calgary is our latest addition to the roster of institutions participating in the RLG Partnership, and to make proper mutual introductions, a team from OCLC Research visited Calgary last week.

In conversations preparing for our trip, we were asked to make a contribution in moving LAM integration at the university forward, and in particular, to focus on Calgary’s ambitions to create a single search across LCR resources. (Calgary currently experiments with Summon for single search – watch an introduction here). Our agenda (inspired by our LAM workshops) called for a broad discussion establishing key features for single search, followed by sessions focused on how archives, metadata services/libraries and museums can contribute to these features and the overarching goal of single search. You’ll find the presentation we used to set the scene for the single search discussions here – it also contains a number of examples from other institutions who have ventured down this path, including the Victoria & Albert, Yale & the Smithsonian.
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Scholarly content and the cliff edge: the place of subject ‘repositories’

Friday, February 5th, 2010 by John

The famous (and famously reclusive) author J.D. Salinger died on 27 January this year, two days after the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns – a day which is celebrated across Scotland and in many parts of the world. Salinger and Burns are of course connected, since the title of Salinger’s most famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is based on a mishearing of the Burns song Comin’ Through the Rye by the protagonist, 17-year old Holden Caulfield:

… I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.

Salinger, J.D., The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 22

The idea of being a ‘catcher’ struck me when I attended a conference held at the British Library last week, Subject Repositories: European Collaboration in the International Context. Neil Jacobs of JISC mentioned Glasgow University Library’s policy of seeking to ‘catch’ researchers close to the end of funded projects to ask if they would like help with their outputs. Certainly, it is easy to argue for libraries to be the ‘catchers in the rye’ when it comes to digital scholarly works and outputs – and the obvious place to deposit these materials is the institutional repository.

However, we were gathered at the BL to hear about subject repositories – including EconomistsOnline which was being launched during the event. And we heard about several very successful subject repositories in a number of very good presentations. The event left me reflecting on a number of things. For example, some subject repositories are success stories almost against all odds. Services like arXiv and RePEc have captured their respective corners of academia so effectively that they go on existing and attracting even without much resource (almost none in the case of RePEc), and their proven value is such that people probably would pay to maintain them (as arXiv is now proposing for its heaviest users). This makes them the inverse of many institutional repositories, which can’t attract content almost irrespective of the amount of resource invested. Read the rest of this entry »

Next-Gen Harvesting

Thursday, February 4th, 2010 by Roy

Metadata harvesting (collecting metadata from others and aggregating it in a collection) is not new. Although there are any number of ways to do this, the OAI-PMH protocol for metadata harvesting is often used and has been around for years. It defines a small set of actions that allows anyone to discover what sets of metadata are available for harvesting from a digital repository, which metadata formats are offered, and select and download those records. Thousands of repositories worldwide support it, sometimes even unknowingly, because many repository applications such as DSpace and ePrints come with OAI-PMH support out of the box.

This has led to a world in which there are metadata aggregators and even agreggators of aggregators. It has also led to potential confusion and difficulty. Records that are picked up from their “native” location and indexed and displayed elsewhere may not be depicted as the creator of that metadata intended. They also may not be refreshed in a timely fashion, thereby potentially leading to records that are out-of-date persisting in various corners of the Internet.

This is why when my colleagues on the services side of the house announced the WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway I sat up and took notice. This heralds a new world in which those being harvested can exert some control over not only how frequently their records are updated, but also how those records are depicted in the aggregation — in this case, WorldCat. Through a simple web-based interface, you can provide your OAI-PMH base URL, have the Gateway test harvest some records, view how those records would display in WorldCat, and change the mapping if you wish. Another benefit is that your records will then appear in all of the places WorldCat is syndicated.

A pilot project to test the Digital Collection Gateway was just announced, beginning March 1, and we are seeking volunteers to try it out and provide feedback. During the pilot you will be asked to:

  • Attend a two-hour webinar reviewing the use of the Gateway
  • Upload a minimum of 500 metadata records to WorldCat
  • Offer feedback and input on your experience with the Gateway to our support and product teams so we can improve the tool and workflows

If you would like to help us create a next-generation harvesting infrastructure, in which you control your metadata more than ever before, email us at