Archive for December, 2011

OCLC Research 2011: The OCLC Research Library Partnership launched (successfully)

Friday, December 30th, 2011 by Jim

We’ve been writing a mini blog series to put a spotlight on just some of our accomplishments this year. This is the final post in that series.

Winding up this series of year-end posts is a big bow to the successful launch of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The launch and the associated rationale and aspirations were discussed in a variety of posts back at the start of the fiscal year. All of us were pleased with the response and have enjoyed these first few months of working with staff at Partner institutions in this new configuration.

Instead of more words here are two pictures of the Partnership to end the year. Happy new year. We look forward to more progress and congenial work on behalf of the Partnership and all OCLC libraries.

OCLC Research Library Partnership

ORLP and Times Higher Education World Rankings

OCLC Research 2011: it’s starting to look like a lot of Linked Data

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 by Jim

This is the sixth post in a mini series, where we look back at accomplishments in 2011.

While OCLC has gotten some (deserved and undeserved) bashing in the blogosphere during 2011 about the cooperative’s practices over the release of major bibliographic subset we’ve also been active in the Linked Data arena in ways that have moved the library linked data community forward.

Exhibit number one is, of course, the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), about which much has been written. It fits the pattern that I think will emerge in the linked data arena. Rather than lots of institutional releases of data we will see the emergence of significant hubs based around authoritative aggregations on which many applications and implementations will arise. This file created through the manipulation of twenty-one authority files from eighteen organizations is prominent in the Linked Data Cloud and getting more than 2 hits/second from Google. Thom Hickey, the principal force behind the creation, extension and maintenance of VIAF has sensible commentary about its development on his blog including how VIAF relates to other name identifiers. The principals in VIAF – LC, DNB, BnF and OCLC – are working to formalize VIAF’s integration as an OCLC offering where it will be offered under an Open Data Commons Attribution license. Right now it’s out in the cloud without a license which counts as “not openly licensed” in that community.

Exhibit number two is the very recent release of the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) file as linked data. I blogged about this not long ago. It has now shown up in the Linked Open Data Graph.

Exhibit number three is the Dewey linked data. Exhibit four OCLC’s support for and involvement with the Library Linked Data Incubator Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) where my Research colleague, Jeff Young, was a participant and contributor.

We expect more activity in the linked data arena during 2012 and hope to see some creative implementations and use cases as the year progresses. For now it’s Robert Burns and Auld Lang Syne time.

I understand that the earliest known manuscript of Auld Lang Syne autographed by Robert Burns is at the Lilly Library Indiana University but I couldn’t find a digital image…

OCLC Research 2011: “Well Intentioned Practices” adopted as a standard

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 by Merrilee

We are closing out 2011 with a mini blog series, looking back on some highlights. This is the fifth post in the series

Although we’ve blogged about WIP, or “Well-intentioned practice for putting digitized collections of unpublished materials online” we failed to mention that it was endorsed as a standard by the Society of American Archivists in August.

Documenting the practices of “reasonable archivists” and encouraging the adoption of a risk management approach in digitizing materials from archival collections provides a path forward for archivists and decision makers, helping institutions to at least consider digitizing low risk materials. We’re pleased to have helped with establishing a community of practice for archivists who are concerned with making their materials available for research in an online environment.

OCLC Research 2011: FutureCast conference

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 by Jim

This conference that OCLC Research sponsored back in June 2011 and which was summarized in a series of blog posts that month continues to influence our work. It was constructed around three areas that we imagined would shape the future expectations of library users and therefore of libraries themselves which was why we subtitled it Shaping Research Libraries in a Networked Age. We built around changing patterns of data consumption, the futures of publishing, and the future of higher education. We had distinguished keynote speakers – George Oates, Brian O’Leary and Ben Wildavsky – get the discussions of each underway.

All of them were terrific and in different ways. All of them set up good discussions and energized panels that followed them. And they became friends to OCLC Research. I’ve been following them ever since. I think you should as well.

George left the Internet Archive on 23 December to become the art director at a design studio in San Francisco so I’m not sure whether or how she’ll have time to keep up her blog. You can see some of her presentations here.

Brian keeps up his blog with an enviable output of thoughtful commentary about publishing and helpfully separates it into three areas concentrating on magazine, book, and association publishing. Go over to his site and get the RSS feed on your reader. If you need to be tantalized one of his recent posts featured this quote from a conference exchange

I don’t want to see them figure out how to change; I want them to get out of the way so that the rest of us can get on with it.

Ben keeps up a steady flow of interesting observations about higher education directions. The most recent piece I saw of his was called Crossing to the dark side? and discussed for-profit versus traditional higher education. I don’t believe he keeps a blog so I just keep a Google Alert to keep up.

OCLC Research 2011: Jackie Dooley elected to high office

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 by Merrilee

As 2011 comes to a close, we are looking back at the year in this mini blog series. This is the third in the series

We try to blog all the high points, but sometimes we miss a few beats, and this was one of them. In 2011, our very own Jackie Dooley was elected as vice president / president elect of the Society of American Archivists (she is now serving as vice president and will step into the presidency in 2012). This is not only a huge honor but also a big position — being part of the executive in a very large and active organization like SAA will keep Jackie on her toes. Those of us who work with her know she’s up to the challenge. Congratulations, Jackie!

You can read more about Jackie’s position here.

OCLC Research 2011: “Seeking Synchronicity,” insights into virtual reference

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 by Merrilee

At the end of 2011, we are doing a mini series of blog postings to reflect on some of the year’s highpoints. This posting is the second in the series.

“Seeking Synchronicity” was published as an OCLC members report in 2011, but is based on many research projects on virtual reference, both research conducted by OCLC Research Scientist Lynn Connaway and Rutgers Professor Marie Radford, and others. Marie and Lynn have helpfully boiled down findings to a very readable set of recommendations and guidelines about virtual reference and optimizing your chances for satisfaction and success.

What has stuck with me after reading the report, is the importance of building relationships. Practicing good customer service goes well beyond virtual reference.

You can view a webinar (and find more information about the project) here.

OCLC Research 2011: OCLC Research version of ArchiveGrid

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 by Merrilee

As 2011 winds down, we are reflecting on what we’ve worked on or created in a mini blog series. This is the first entry, so stay tuned for more!

ArchiveGrid is, as the name hints, a discovery vehicle for archival collection descriptions. Although ArchiveGrid has been a subscription service for many years, we’re excited to offer a free version which will serve as a testbed for a number of important experiments around optimizing the discovery of materials that are described at a collection, rather than item, level. In 2011, my colleagues Bruce Washburn and Ellen Ast have invested significant effort in creating a new interface and refreshing the underlying content (bringing the number of records from just over a million to 1.7 million in a relatively short period of time).

In 2012, we’ll be experimenting with NER (named entity recognition) across the corpus, and also with a paper finding aids scanning project. We’ll report more about those efforts here. We also hope to refresh our knowledge of our user base, their habits and preferences. In 2006, we conducted user studies that afforded us key insights into what’s important to researchers, but it’s time to refresh our knowledge, so you can look for more information on that as well.

Check out ArchiveGrid at, and let us know what you think!

To learn more, you can watch this short YouTube video on ArchiveGrid.

And if you want to dig deeper, there’s an ArchiveGrid webinar as well.

Happy Holidays from us to you — the OCLC Research Holiday Song

Friday, December 16th, 2011 by Merrilee

It’s that time of year, and before you start tuning out your feed reader and start tuning into your favorite holiday tunes, we have a little something to get you in the spirit. This video was created by my very talented colleague Dennis Massie (for a long time know around here as the “SHARES Guy” although his work spans well beyond that). It’s both wry and heartfelt, and I think you’ll find it worth your while.

You can also check out other offerings on the OCLC Research YouTube Channel

p.s. My favorite holiday music is the SOMA FM Christmas Lounge stream. What’s yours?

FAST on the street

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by Jim

Tokyo Drift

leaving the garage for the street FAST

I’m pleased to say that today OCLC Research released FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) as linked data under an Open Data Commons Attribution license.

FAST has been a multi-year project of OCLC Research in collaboration with the Library of Congress. The FAST authority file is an enumerative, faceted subject heading schema derived from the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).

You can read the details in the press releases and announcements but even better would be to take a look at the web search interface to FAST. You can also see a nice example of FAST in action by looking at MapFAST which uses FAST to show library materials using the geographic focus of the content.

FAST itself has been a lot of work over many years and I was pleased that Ed O’Neill who led the project was here in our San Mateo offices when the release occurred. We were able to give him a big round of applause. Of course, this project demanded a broad range of effort from many Research staff over the years but the principal developer and the kingpin in the linked data release is Rick Bennett. We applauded him virtually.

Now I hope to sit back and hear about the interesting ways that FAST is mobilized in the linked data cloud.

Photo sourced from zweiff