Archive for April, 2012

The secret lives of researchers

Monday, April 30th, 2012 by Merrilee

As part of our ArchiveGrid experiments, we’re conducting a survey to find out how researchers find resources that will help them locate materials in archives and special collections and how they share information about those resources with others. Not only are we interested in the answer to this question, but we bet you are interested as well.

Here’s how you can help. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are probably in a position where you work directly with researchers (we do not). You could ask your researchers to take the survey (which is very painless — there are only 14 questions, mostly multiple choice). As an incentive we are offering a chance (for those who are over 18 and live in the US) to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

We will also share our findings with you. We’ll be presenting results at the upcoming RBMS Preconference, and will also summarize our findings elsewhere (say, in this blog).

To make this really easy for you, here’s some text you could include in an email to researchers:

OCLC Research wants to know how researchers (you) use special collections. Complete this survey and be entered in a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card!

Please visit to answer some questions about how you find – and find out about – websites and other research resources. The information you provide will help OCLC Research make it easier to discover materials in special collections.

Getting the word out to researchers is one of our challenges, so thanks for your help.

Harvard bibliographic data released with prominent nod to OCLC

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 by Jim

Member of the Charles River Basin Community Sailing Club Enjoy an Evening Sail. for a Dollar a Year, Youngsters Up to Age 17 Can Join the Club and Learn to Handle a Boat 08/1973

Into the flow.

Back in October we were excited to announce the final step in a project on which OCLC Research worked with the University of Cambridge – the release of their library catalog data as both MARC21 and as Linked Data. They worked with us and implemented our provisional recommendation to use an Open Data Commons Attribution license for the data release, which include data that was derived from WorldCat. While we are working to finalize and formalize that recommendation (it was a major discussion item at last week’s OCLC Global Council meeting) other institutions have been working on their own data releases.

Today the Harvard University Libraries released their library catalog of more than 12 million bibliographic records. This release furthers the mandate from their Library Board and Faculty to make as much of their metadata as possible available through open access in order to support learning and research, to disseminate knowledge and to foster innovation and aligns with the very public and established commitment that Harvard has made to open access for scholarly communication. I’m pleased to say that they worked with OCLC as they thought about the terms under which the release would be made. Although Harvard Libraries did not ultimately accept our recommendation about the ODC-BY license, the approach chosen by the Harvard Libraries takes into account some of the primary aspects of OCLC’s recommendation.

Specifically, our discussions acknowledged the Harvard mandate as well as what was most important to the OCLC cooperative – receiving attribution and making others aware of the cooperative’s norms and expectations of one another in regards to data derived from WorldCat. And again I’m pleased to say that our Harvard colleagues took the cooperative’s desires into account. The dataset is being released subject to the Creative Commons Public Domain designation (CC0) but Harvard requests that subsequent use provide attribution to Harvard, OCLC and the Library of Congress. They also request that users be aware of and act in a manner consistent with the OCLC cooperative community norms and provide a link to those norms. We think this is a well-intentioned and executed compromise.

It’s true we don’t think that public domain dedications for data derived from WorldCat are consistent with the OCLC cooperative’s norms as expressed in the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities (WCRR) statement, particularly at Section 3.B.5. We also recognize that the WCRR statement is not a legally binding document and that interpretations of these community norms within the cooperative may differ. Releasing data is ultimately the choice of the OCLC member institution as are the terms. Would other members of the cooperative consider the release of the Harvard dataset under these terms and conditions bad acting and a risk to the long-term viability and sustainability of WorldCat? Probably not, particularly with attribution, and awareness and responsible treatment of WorldCat-derived data being requested so prominently.

Our discussions and this outcome are evidence that interpretations of community norms within the cooperative may differ. The mandates of institutional mission, the imperatives of emerging local policy, national and supra-national structures may all contribute to a differing view and legitimately demand precedence. In our discussions with Harvard we acknowledged that their direction was their choice. Their mandates took precedence. They acknowledged the cooperative’s concerns and responded as a responsible cooperative citizen by requesting attribution, and awareness of and adherence to the community norms of the OCLC cooperative. The discussion was frank and mutually supportive. After all, OCLC like its member institutions is in the early stages of large shifts in data technology and policy. There are inevitable tensions and conflicting goods that will need to be reconciled over time. The process in which we are engaged will if we continue to work together with good will, ultimately lead to a new suite of best practices that balance the common good and institutional sustainability.

Image: Member of the Charles River Basin Community Sailing Club Enjoy an Evening Sail

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!




It was a very good year

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by Ricky

One of the top accomplishments of 2012 so far is putting together a summary of our 2011 activities! It’s worth a look to be reminded of the breadth of the work we do and the many ways our partners contribute to those achievements. Let’s not spend too much time looking backwards, though. We’ve got a lot of new activities underway and welcome your ideas and involvement! We hope you have a moment to check it out, but we won’t be resting on our laurels.

Libraries rebound

Monday, April 9th, 2012 by Merrilee

I’d like to put in a plug for the next event for those who are in the OCLC Research Libraries Partnership, which is
Libraries Rebound: Embracing Mission, Maximizing Impact (June 5-6, Philadelphia). We are still confirming speakers but so far we’ve got a great line up of speakers — we’re also adding reactor panels, so check out the program now and in a week or two to see how it’s shaping up.

The meeting will focus on how libraries can more closely tie services and collections to the university’s (or parent institution’s) mission. In the midst of static or decreasing budgets, being able to demonstrate impact in the pursuit of the institution’s research and teaching goals is paramount.

The day and a half meeting will focus on three themes:

  • How library staff are working side-by-side with researchers in specific disciplines
  • How institutions are adapting special collection-building to align with high priority teaching and research focus areas
  • How libraries are using library space to forge partnerships with other units on campus
  • We’re fortunate to have some smart people from forward-looking institutions who will share their knowledge and experiences with us. And the conversation and discussion will definitely spill into areas beyond the three themes I’ve outlined above. Which is where you come in — we need you to come and talk about what you have planned (as well as to learn from your peers). Register now! Always free for those in the partnership.

    Questions? Let us know. We always love to hear from you.

    Ingredients for success

    Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 by Merrilee

    This morning, I listened to this story on the history of how the Silicon Valley came to be with great interest. The story appealed to me for three reasons. First because there’s a local angle (RLG was located in the heart of the Silicon Valley and now our OCLC offices are just north of what I’d consider to be the “classic” valley). Second, the piece hooked me by quoting an archivist at Stanford (and I’m a sucker for stories that use archivists as sources). Third, I’m interested in examining the “ingredients for success” for a particular industry. In this case, it was marrying a group of talented scientists with the idea that they could be the company (instead of finding a company to work for) and then putting that together with some investors that were willing to invest. Taken together these were novel ideas, and magic could happen.

    It’s also interesting to think of the role that place, and the culture of place plays in all of this. A recent posting from Pando Daily looks at the “Midwest Mentality” and why it’s so hard to get start up traction in a place like Chicago.

    What are ingredients for success where you work? The Feral Librarian has been reflecting on this from time to time — what do others think?

    The series on Silicon Valley will continue this week and I look forward to hearing the next chapter!