Professional Development

Lauren at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando

Friday, July 8, 2016 5:32 pm

Productivity with vendors (book and ILS), committee obligations, and future of cataloging were the three main themes for me in Orlando. Meetings by chance also played a key role in making this an above average conference for me.

I caught up with our Casalini sales rep on how to implement a more Gobi-like version of their fresh interface which will help me and Linda, along with a few others here at ZSR. I met our Eastview sales rep, who had helped us with one of our year-end purchases and I finally broke a logjam around finalizing a license agreement with Springer. For about a year I’ve been talking with colleague and Springer employee Robert Boissy about overcoming discovery discovery problems (with linked data), so he mentioned an interesting new vendor, Yewno. The shortest way I can explain is that it is like a discovery service (e.g. Summon, EDS) but uses artificial intelligence and visualization. They ingest content after they have agreements in place, but I was told at the Yewno booth that it isn’t pre-indexing like the discovery services we know right now. It definitely bears watching as they grow. Maybe the Google of academic content? It reminds me of an internet search engine I used over a decade ago, KartOO, which has been completely closed down, but maybe it was just ahead of its time.

(captured from the Yewno website for illustration)

(captured from the Yewno website)

I continued work on two division-level committees: the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and the ALCTS Advocacy and Policy Committee. Now that the conference is over, I’m officially the chair of latter. The group will be working on ALA’s Advocacy Implementation Plan. I saw WSSU colleagues Wanda Brown and Cindy Levine at the Opening Session. I commented to them that I felt like I had been to church after hearing the speaker, Michael Eric Dyson. (I believe he said he was a minister earlier in his life. His inflection surely seemed indicative of it!) Cindy may be joining the Advocacy Committee as a result of that chance meeting. I also attended the Closing Session where Jamie Lee Curtis captivated me with the way she revealed her forthcoming book and perspective on belonging and immigration, at a level that kids get. The title is This Is Me: The Story of Who We Are and Where we Came From — the library edition will not have the pop-up, because Curtis understands how that is a problem for libraries. Both speakers were highly complimentary of libraries and librarians, and far more dynamic and poignant on their topics than I can illustrate. You simply had to be there. I had the good fortune to get in line for the Closing Session with the exiting President of ALCTS, Norm Madeiros, and we conversed about the state of ALCTS membership (declining, like others) and the wonderful value we get from our association. Norm is sincerely worried and he has raised my level of concern, which I think will nicely feed into my work with ALCTS Advocacy. (See also Thomas’ post re: ALA Divisions and membership decline. Norm was at the same “free” lunch with Thomas.) Incidental meetings like this at ALA are just as important as the unexpected exchanges we have with colleagues in crossing the building here at ZSR in our daily work.

At Norm’s President’s Program, Dr. Michael R. Nelson, spoke about “Enabling Innovation in the Era of the Cloud–A Syllabus.” He had a great long list of books as “recommended reading.” In random order from my rough notes, here are just a few sample titles and my memory jogs about them: Drive by Daniel Pink (bonuses are bad unless done in way everyone thinks is fair); Words That Work by Frank Luntz (get complicated ideas into simple bumper stickers and add two good factoids); Beyond the Gig Economy (today’s kids will have about 20 jobs in their career); Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age by Steven Johnson (or watch this); Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz (or his short essay in Wired in 2009, “Your Future in 5 Easy Steps” and see also the “app.”)

Regarding the future of cataloging: I attended a number of sessions where I heard updates about BIBFRAME and linked data and a little about library migrations from an integrated library system (ILS) to a library service platform (LSP). Come see me if you want more details. Carolyn’s , Jeff’s and Steve’s posts also offer some insights and they can also tell you more than they wrote. I heard details from them when we gathered with members of Special Collections earlier this week to share what we learned. Also Steve recently sent email about a series of webinars from ALCTS that many of us will watch. To my mind, the future of cataloging is a heavy consideration as we investigate next generation systems. I stopped by the booths of multiple vendors of LSPs and will share some observations at an upcoming meeting of the ILS Task Force.

 

 

Jeff at ALA Annual 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:01 pm

Assuming you are six years old, Orlando is a dream destination. If, like me, you’re 37, you need some compelling reason to go. Enter ALA Annual 2016.

On Saturday I attended the program “Linked Data: Globally Connecting Libraries, Archives, and Museums.” Reinhold Heuvelmann of the German National Library described his library’s system of metadata creation, in which they use their own standard, called Pica, and are able to export in numerous formats, including MARC, Dublin Core, and BIBFRAME, among others. This kind of cross-walking will be essential in the future as we move into linked data, it would seem. Mr. Heuvelmann pointed out that with linked data, library users per se are not the intended audience; general web searchers are. I’d never exactly thought of it this way before, but it’s worth doing so, if only as an exercise in humility. Our library catalogs aren’t the be-all and end-all.

Later that morning, because I am an incompetent convention center navigator and sometimes you’ve walked too far to turn back, I ended up watching Canadian author Margaret Atwood talk about her forthcoming contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series, of which I was already aware. Her contribution is a prose retelling of The Tempest. Ms. Atwood’s sense of humor was a delight, and it made me happy to scan the packed house and be reminded that, however our jobs and our profession might change, we are still in the end essentially a bunch of book lovers.

That afternoon I met with my ALCTS AS Organization and Management Committee, which I will be chairing as of 7/1. We brainstormed ideas for a program for next year’s annual conference in Chicago; something about sourcing difficult-to-get materials, maybe; or the oft-inadequate amount of personnel committed to e-resources. Or something else; I’m working on it. I spent that evening waiting for over two hours to eat mediocre-at-best “Louisiana” food, as did several of my colleagues. No one was having much fun, except the keyboardist, and Chelcie, who, as it turns out, loves jaunty synth solos every bit as much as Steve hates them.

But in my heart of hearts, all this was mere precursor to the talk I gave on Sunday morning at the ALCTS-sponsored program “Re-Tooling Acquisitions for Lean Times.” My co-presenter was John Ballestro from Texas A&M. I titled my presentation “What if Help Isn’t on the Way?” and talked about 1) our experience as a tech services department that has realigned to maximize efficiency and 2) some simple time-savers that can be embraced without any significant infusion of cash or personnel (hence the title). It went well. After our talk, hands shot up, and the questions didn’t stop until the fifteen minutes we’d allowed for Q&A were gone. We’d either confused them or sparked their interest. Either way, it was over.

Later that afternoon I met with my ALCTS Planning Committee. Our primary responsibility these days is to review committee reports and assess the degree to which ALCTS committees are advancing the Strategic Plan that we wrote the previous year. On Sunday afternoon Erica Findley of Multnomah County Library talked about their local Library.Link project, in which ten public libraries in Oregon have gotten together to publish linked data to the web in cooperation with Zepheira. They are currently assessing results using Google Analytics; so far most referrals have come from the libraries’ websites, but a good amount came from the open web as well, and the hope is that the latter will only increase. Participating in this endeavor has meant no change to the libraries’ cataloging process, as Zepheira does the web publishing for them, using data extracted from their catalogs. I look forward to hearing an update on this project in the future.

Leslie at MLA 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016 8:08 pm

This year’s meeting of the Music Library Association was held in Cincinnati, where, during breaks and receptions, we enjoyed 1920s tunes performed by members of the Cincinnati Opera, and by MLA’s own big band, in the Netherland Plaza Hotel’s beautifully-restored 1930 Art Deco ballroom.

DIVERSITY

It has long been recognized that America’s conservatories and orchestras remain overwhelmingly white (less than 5% of students in music schools are non-Asian minorities). While administrators of these institutions are currently struggling to rectify the situation, libraries (it was noted at the MLA meeting) have a chance to be an exemplar. In a joint project with ARL called the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, MLA has supported internships and fellowships for MLIS students with music backgrounds to work in music libraries. The diversity aimed for includes not just race/ethnicity, but also gender, marital status, disabilities, etc. In the opening plenary session, we heard from some of the former fellows. Benefits that were particularly appreciated included the visibility and recognition acquired while a student, which subsequently opened doors to professional opportunities; peer mentors (previous fellows) who provided ongoing support with entry into the profession, and after; and help with the hidden costs of college (additional fees, textbooks, etc.) for which first-generation students are often unprepared. Difficulties encountered included locating sources of help – one fellow reported “cold calling” random MLA members before discovering the DII program. This prompted a discussion, during the Q&A, on how the program could be better publicized.

On a similar outreach note, MLA (whose membership encompasses North America – U.S. and Canada) plans to invite Latin American colleagues to next year’s meeting in Orlando, billing it a Pan-American conference.

LINKED DATA

MLA’s initiatives in this field:

  • Two new thesauri have been published in the past year — for medium-of-performance terms (LCMGT), and for music genre/form terms (LCGFT) – along with best-practices documents for both.
  • Involvement in LD4L (Linked Data for Libraries), a collaborative project of Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford.
  • The NACO Music Project, working on authority data.
  • A Bibframe Task Force, which is undertaking various projects to enhance the new encoding schema to meet music users’ needs.

We heard about other projects that member libraries have done to enhance discoverability of special collections:

The Linked Jazz Project, best known for its visualizations, is based on data extracted from oral-history transcripts in numerous jazz archives. The data is then converted to RDF triples reflecting relationships between jazz artists (x talks about y; y knows of x). The data is enhanced via crowdsourcing. The developers hope others will use the LJ data to build additional linked-data sets: mashing LJ data with performances at Carnegie Hall is one such project; another is unearthing female jazz artists (neglected in traditional jazz histories) by enriching LJ data with other sources such as DBpedia, MusicBrainz, and VIAF (the international authority file).

Colleagues at Michigan State used Discogs (a crowdsourced, expert-community-reviewed database of metadata on pop music recordings) to process a gift collection of 1200 LPs of Romani music, which also included pop music containing Gypsy stereotypes. They hope to use this collection as a pilot to develop a process for a much larger corporate gift of 800,000 pop recordings and videos. They were able to extract data directly from the Discogs website using Discogs’ API (which outputs in JSON – they used Python to convert the JSON to XML and then MARCXML). Cataloging challenges included: dealing with usage differences between Discogs’ “release” and RDA’s “manifestation”; similarly, between Discogs’ “roles” for artists and RDA’s “relationship designators”; and mapping Discogs’ genres and subgenres to LC’s genre/form terms and medium-of-performance terms, supplementing with LC subject headings as needed. Discogs’ strengths: expertise in languages (from its international contributor community) and in obsolete formats; and the ability to link to the Discogs entry from the library catalog. Our presenters plan to propose to the Discogs community indexing the UPC (universal product code, the barcodes on CDs); a similar resource, MusicBrainz, does this.

A third project, at Cornell, was ultimately unsuccessful, but also illustrates the variety of data resources and tools that people are trying to link up. For a collection of hip-hop flyers, they constructed RDF triples using data from MusicBrainz, ArtStor, and Cornell’s existing metadata on the related events etc. They chose Bibframe for their encoding schema, and compiled an ontology from Getty’s AAT vocabulary, various music and event ontologies, and Schema.org. Reconciliation of names from all these sources was done using the open-source analytics tool OpenRefine. The problems developed as they came to feel that Bibframe did not meet their test for describing flyers; they decided to abandon it in favor of LD4L. Reconciliation of names also proved more problematic than expected.

DISCOVERY

In a session on music discovery requirements, colleagues noted two things that current ILSs and discovery layers are not good at: showing hierarchies (for instance, making available additional search terms in thesauri, ontologies, etc.); and mapping multiple physical formats to one title (for multi-media items, such as a book issued with a disc, or a score with a recording, or a CD with a DVD – in most interfaces, the content of the second piece will not be retrieved under a format-facet search).

A presenter from Stanford proposed facet displays that include drop-down menus showing a relevant thesaurus, allowing users to further narrow to a subgenre, for instance. For music, the newly-developed medium-of-performance thesaurus, if displayed with multiple search instances, could enable musicians to enter all the instruments in their ensemble, and retrieve music for that specific combination of instruments. Also discussed were domain-specific search interfaces, such as the ones done by UVA for music and videos. Needless to say, there are potential applications for other disciplines.

Colleagues at East Carolina have made use of Blacklight to map multiple physical formats to the same title.

Midwinter 2016: A False Memoir?

Thursday, January 14, 2016 10:03 am

This year’s Midwinter was a bit unusual for me in that I didn’t find as many programs of obvious interest as I usually do, which led to my attending some sessions that I normally wouldn’t have. About this I have no complaints. It was fun, as was this outdoor section of the Brattle Book Shop (est. 1825):

The Role of the Professional in Technical Services Interest Group put on a program about the changing landscape of tech services (in our case Resource Services) departments as silos surrounding different functional areas continue to break down and collaboration and outsourcing of work to vendors become more common. Sally Gibson from Illinois State talked about “solution creators” as a distinct role within TS departments; these individuals excel at recognizing patterns and redundancies and at thinking creatively about workflows. Her emphasis on attitudes and behaviors (as opposed to technical skill sets) as essential traits is something we’re hearing more about lately in ALCTS-land.

After the meeting of my ALCTS-AS Organization and Management Committee got out early, having bravely crossed a windswept bridge leading away from the sea, I wandered into YALSA’s 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee’s annual review of YA fiction. This was not my usual scene. A lengthy procession of super-earnest Boston-area youths (some in middle and some in high school, I gathered) took the podium to provide one- to three-minute reviews of new works of YA fiction, recommending whether they ought to make YALSA’s final list of recommended books. What kind of kid wants to go present at a conference for librarians? The answer: good kids. Their enthusiasm and sincerity were infectious; I found myself remembering that protocol-obsessed adolescents were my favorite patrons in my early days working at the circ desk of a public library. I will always miss that.

On Sunday I learned a bit about the rise of the online scientific megajournal, a phenomenon about which I previously knew little. Two representatives from publishers of such journals (Springer Nature and Elsevier) as well as one from AIP led a very participatory discussion of the value of these online journals, which publish several thousand articles per year and have been accused of causing a proliferation of lower-quality scientific publishing. From the perspective of authors, the journals sometimes function as a backup plan to publication in the more prestigious traditional journals. Audience members expressed concern about the extent to which megajournals depend for their profits on Article Processing Charges (ACPs) paid by authors. This would seem a valid concern. The publishers make the case that their journals provide an important service by bringing more scientific findings out of the gray literature and into the main scientific corpus. “This can only be a good thing,” said one. My sense is that some commentators would disagree.

I enjoyed a presentation by two librarians from the coolest combination of colleges possible – Nurhak Tuncer from the City College of Chicago’s Malcolm X College and Reed David from the University of Alaska Anchorage – in which the challenge of cataloging self-published ebooks was discussed. This is something Carolyn has worked on here, cataloging the ebooks published by Bill Kane’s in-house Library Partners Press. The main emphasis of the presentation was on decisions the cataloger must make about Publisher, Place of publication, etc. In the same session, Karen Snow from Dominican University talked about ethical decisions involved in cataloging and/or re-cataloging “false memoirs” – books presented as fact but later shown to be largely fictional (think A Million Little Pieces, The Education of Little Tree). Some libraries choose to re-class and move these books to fiction; others leave them where they are with the addition of notes. Practices vary, and the right decision for an academic library might not be right for a public one. Ms. Snow encouraged establishing a consistent policy. I think I disagree: to me these need to be treated on a case-by-case basis.

We are nearing the end. At my ALCTS Planning Committee meeting, we discussed strategies for requiring more accountability from various ALCTS committees with regards to the alignment of their activities to the Strategic Plan we adopted last year. Expect a new reporting form, people! Finally, on Monday morning, Nancy Lorimer, Head of Metadata Services at Stanford, presented on her library’s participation in the Linked Data for Production project, in which attempts are being made at coming up with real-world workflows that incorporate linked data, for instance, the insertion of URIs into legacy MARC bib records and authority records. As entities (a somewhat far-ranging concept) become more important in a linked data environment, authority control becomes a central concern. The fact that we’re on top of this at ZSR is good to know. Thanks, Steve.

And now, the aforementioned earnest young adults:

Lauren at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:13 pm

It probably seemed like everyone was talking about linked data because that was the focus of most of the sessions I attended.

One of the more interesting ones was the Library of Congress BIBFRAME Update Forum, because in addition to Sally McCallum and Beacher Wiggins of LC, they had speakers from Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, Atlas (think ILLIAD and ARES), OCLC, and Zepheira. At this stage, I think they were all trying to reassure clients that they will keep up with change. I took more notes on Ex Libris than the others since we’re a current customer: After some prologue on revolution vs evolution, Ido Peled, VP, Solutions and Marketing, said, that moving to a native linked data catalog is more revolutionary and Ex Libris is more comfortable with evolution. But I thought he gave more concrete evidence of readiness for linked data than the others because he said ALMA was built to support MARC and Dublin Core already and that Primo Central is already in RDF format, using JSON-LD. He also emphasized the multi-tenant environment and said, “Technology isn’t the focus. The focus is outcomes.” Because linked data includes relying on the data of others and interlinking with your own data, the “multi-tenant” environment concept made sense suddenly and helped me understand why I keep hearing about groups moving to ALMA, like Orbis-Cascade. I’ve also heard from individuals that it hasn’t been easy, but when is a system migration ever easy?

I also attended “Getting Started with Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU.” They each worked on their own linked data projects, figuring out tools to use (like OpenRefine) and work flows. Then they tested on each other’s data to help them refine the tools for use with different future projects and for sharing them broadly in the library community. They both said they learned a lot and made adjustments to the tools they used. I got a much better sense of what might be involved in taking on a linked data project. Successes and issues they covered reminded me of our work on authority control and RDA enhancement: matches and near matches through an automated process, hits and non-hits against VIAF, cleaning up and normalizing data for extra spaces, punctuation, etc. In fact this session built well on “Data Clean-Up: Let’s Not Sweep it Under the Rug,” which was sponsored by the committee I’m on with Erik Mitchell, the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee. I got a good foundation regarding use of MARCedit and OpenRefine for normalizing data to eliminate spaces and punctuation. While I knew regular expressions were powerful, I finally learned what they can do. In one example, punctuation stemming from an ampersand in an organization name caused data to become parsed incorrectly, breaking apart the name of the organization every time for the thousands of times it appeared. A regular expression can overcome this problem in an automated way — there’s no need to fix each instance one by one. (Think in terms of how macros save work.)

The ALCTS President’s Program: Three Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age featured Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Reading and Language Research and John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University. It was interesting to learn from her that brains weren’t designed for reading — think about cave men and their primary goals, which didn’t include reading. She gave a great overview of the development of language and reading and incidentally showed that those who operate in CJK languages have different parts of the brain lighting up than those of us who operate in other languages. This was all foundation leading up to how the brain operates and the effects of reading on the screen. The way we read on a screen results in the loss of certain abilities like reflection and creating connections. She measured that it takes time to regain those abilities too. She isn’t by any means anti-electronic though — she’s doing interesting work in Ethiopia with kids learning by using tablets. We’ll have to get her forthcoming book when it is finished!

I also attended committee meetings, met with vendors, networked, and got to catch up with former colleagues Erik Mitchell and Lauren Pressley over a dinner that Susan organized. (Thanks, Susan!) I especially enjoyed catching up with former colleagues Charles Hillen and Ed Summers, both dating back to my days at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. Charles now works for YBP as Director of Library Technical Services and Ed just received the Kilgour Award from LITA/OCLC. Thanks to Ed, I got to meet Eric Hellman, president of the company that runs Unglue.it. And thanks to WFU Romance Languages faculty member Alan Jose, who mentioned the idea, I went Monday afternoon with Derrik and Carolyn to visit the Internet Archive offices, where we met Brewster Kahle. The volume the organization handles is mind-blowing! Kahle says they only collect about 40 TV channels right now and it is not enough. They have designed the book digitization equipment they are using (and selling it at a reasonable price too). They have people digitizing reels of films, VHS, and audio, but Kahle says they’ve got to come up with a better method than equipment using magnetic heads that are hard to find. Someone is working on improving search right now too. Some major advice offered was to learn Python!

 

Lauren at ALA Midwinter 2015 (aka Chicago’s 4th Biggest Blizzard)

Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:59 pm

My notes on: IPEDS, ebook STLs and video, our vendors, linked data, BIBFRAME, OCLC and Schema.org, ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee, advocacy

At the ARL Assessment Forum, there was much complaining over the contradiction in instructions with IPEDs collection counts and circulation. Susan and I had the luck of chatting in the hallway with Bob Dugan from UWF, who turned out to be the main official communicator from libraryland with the person for the library section of IPEDs. Bob is also the author of a LibGuide with clarification info from the IPEDs help desk. Bob seems hopeful that changes in definitions for gathering the info (but not the numbers/form) could happen in time for the next cycle. My main specific takeaways from the various speakers:

  • the only figures that that will be checked between the current IPEDs survey and the previous survey is total library expenditures (not just collection);
  • in spite of the language, the physical circulation part of the survey seems to focus on lending, not borrowing, and may duplicate the ILL info section;
  • some libraries are thinking to use COUNTER BR1 and BR2 reports for ebook circulation and footnote which vendors use which type (BR1 or BR2).

ALCTS Technical Services Managers in Academic Libraries Interest Group discussed a wide range of current issues and it was both reassuring and annoying that no matter the library size, public or private, right now everyone has the same problems and no great answers: high cost ebook STLs, difficulties with video, etc. I inferred that our tactic of explaining prices and the options to faculty (e.g. explaining a mediation message about an EBL ebook or that the producer of a desired video is requiring libraries to pay significantly more than the individual pricing advertised) produces greater customer satisfaction than setting broad restrictive rules to stay within budget.

Jeff, Derrik, and I had a good meeting with a domestic vendor regarding ebooks and I discussed some specific needs with a foreign vendor. All felt like we made progress.

Linked data in libraries is for real (and will eventually affect cataloging). I attended several relevant sessions and here is my distillation: LD4L and Vivo, as a part of LD4L, are the best proof-of-concept work I’ve heard about. When starting to learn about linked data, there is no simple explanation; you have to explore it and then try to wrap your brain around it. Try reading the LD4L Use Cases webpages to get an understanding of what can be achieved and try looking at slide #34 in this LD4L slideshow for a visual explanation of how this can help researchers find each other. Here’s a somewhat simple explanation of Vivo from a company that helped start it and now is the “first official DuraSpace Registered Service Provider for VIVO.” OCLC is doing a lot of groundwork for linked data, using Schema.org, and that effort plays into the work being done by LD4L. While OCLC has been using Schema.org, Library of Congress has invested in developing BIBFRAME. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper about compatibility of both models, released just before the conference. The joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee (which replaced MARBI) is naturally interested in this topic and it was discussed at the Committee meeting. The Committee also gathered input from various groups on high level guidelines (or best practices) for metadata that Erik Mitchell, a committee member, originally drafted.

I also attended the meeting of the ALCTS Advocacy Committee, which has a liaison to the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group. I understand that advocacy will be emphasized in ALA’s forthcoming strategic plan. If you’re not familiar with the Coordinating Group, it has a broader membership than just ALA division representation, but does include ACRL, LITA, and APALA in addition to ALCTS. I believe ZSR is well-represented in these groups and thus has some clear channels for advocacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 ALA Annual in Las Vegas

Monday, July 7, 2014 4:31 pm

This year’s ALA Annual meeting marked my first visit to the very hot, colorful, and sensory-overloaded city of Las Vegas. After arriving Friday afternoon, I headed to the Las Vegas Hotel to attend an OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) meeting to hear about the upcoming publication of best practices for DVD-Blu ray cataloging. While I have yet to catalog many Blu-ray discs, I know this information will come in handy the next time I do so. Afterwards, I met up with Hu at the convention center to hear Jane McGonigal, game designer and opening keynote speaker, talk about the power and positive aspects of games/gaming. I am really excited about the prospect of working with Hu in hosting McGonigal’s game creation, “Find the Future”, at ZSR. Following the talk, Hu and I attended the ANSS social at Tamba Indian Cuisine.

On Saturday, I attended a session on international developments in library linked data that featured a panel of 3 speakers: Richard Wallis, Technology Evangelist at OCLC; Jodi Schneider of the Centre de Recherche, and Neil Wilson, Head of Collection Metadata at the British Library. Linked data is a popular conference topic and one that I need to study more in depth. Per, Mr. Wallis discussed the importance of using structured data on the web using markup as seen on schema.org. Schema.org tries to infer meaning from strings of data. In April 2014, WorldCat Entities was released. It is a database of 197+ million linked Work descriptions (i.e. a high-level description of a resource that contains information such as author, name, descriptions, subjects, etc., common to all editions of a work) and URIs (uniform resource identifier). Linked data:

  • takes one across the web and is navigated by a graph of knowledge
  • is standard on the web
  • identifies and links resources on the web
  • is a technology (i.e. entity based data architecture powered by linked data).

Wallis used the phrase “syndication of libraries.” Unlike the web, libraries don’t want to sell stuff, we want people to use our stuff. Libraries’ information is aggregated to a central site (e.g. National Library, consortia, WorldCat) and the details are then published to syndicate partners (e.g. Google). Syndication moves to linking users back directly to libraries. Individual libraries publish resource data. Utilizing linked data from authoritative hubs (e.g. Library of Congress, WorldCat Works, VIAF) in our records assists in the discovery of these resources as it makes them recognizable and identifiable on the web. Users will then be referred to available library resources.

What can libraries/librarians do in the area of linked data?

  1. Contribute to WorldCat.
  2. Apply schema.org across one’s library’s web site.
  3. Select systems that will link to entities on the web. We are “on the cusp of a wave”, says Wallis.
  4. Add URIs to cataloging records. The web will aggregate like information.

Jodi Schneider’s talk focused on linked data developments from Europe (i.e. Belgium, Norway, Ireland and France). The British Library’s Neil Wilson stated that better web integration of library resources increases a libraries’ visibility to new groups which can bring about wider utility and relevance libraries. During the Q&A, an individual posed a question about the stability of URIs, a topic that has come up in a recent ZSR discussion of which I was a part. The panel responded that URI stability depends upon who’s publishing them. An organization does saddle itself with the responsibility of making sure that URIs are persistent. It’s up to the reputation of organizations creating URIs to make sure they remain persistent. Libraries can add authority to URIs. One needs to realize that some outlying sources may go away, and for this very reason, preservation of linked data is becoming an emerging issue.

In addition to the session on linked data, I attended the following sessions:

  • becoming a community-engaged academic library which was co-sponsored by ANSS and EBSS
  • meeting of the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee which I will be chairing 2014-2015
  • consulting and collaborating with faculty, staff, and students about metadata used in Digital Humanities projects
  • e-book backlogs
  • anthropology librarians discussion group
  • “Quiet Strengths of Introverts”

All in all, it was a great conference. I went to a couple of vendor parties, visited the Hoover Dam in 119 degree heat, and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Oscar’s with my coworkers, but I was very eager to get back home and in a quiet environment.

ALA Annual 2014 Las Vegas – Lauren

Thursday, July 3, 2014 4:08 pm

Three segments to my post: 1) Linked Data and Semantic Web, 2) Introverts at Work, and 3) Vendors and Books and Video — read just the part that interests you!

1. Linked Data and Semantic Web (or, Advances in Search and Discovery)

Steve Kelley sparked my interest in the Semantic Web and Linked Data with reports after conferences over the past few years. Now that I’ve been appointed to the joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and attended a meeting at this conference, I’ve learned more:

Google Hummingbird is a recent update to how Google searching functions, utilizing all the words in the query to provide more meaningful results instead of just word matches.

Catalogers and Tech Team take note! Work is really happening now with Linked Data. In Jason Clark’s presentation,”Schema.org in Libraries,” see the slide with links to work being done at NCSU and Duke (p. 28 of the posted PDF version).

I’m looking forward to working with Erik Mitchell and other Metadata Standards Committee members in the coming year.

2. Introverts at Work!

The current culture of working in meetings (such as brainstorming) and reaching quick decisions in groups or teams is geared towards extroverts while about 50% of the population are introverts. Introverts can be most productive and provide great solutions when given adequate time for reflection. (Extrovert and introvert were defined in the Jung and MBTI sense of energy gain/drain.) So says Jennifer Kahnweiler, the speaker for the ALCTS President’s Program and author of Quiet Influence. Another book discussing the same topic is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Many ZSRians attended this session!

3.Vendors and Books and Video

I spent a lot of time talking with vendors. Most notable was the meeting that Derrik, Jeff, and I attended with some of the publishers that are raising DDA short term loan prices. This will affect our budget, but our plan is to watch it for a bit, to develop our knowledge and determine appropriate action. It was helpful to learn more from the publishers. Some publishers are able to switch to print on demand, while others cannot because traditional print runs are cheaper than print on demand and their customers still want print. Print-driven publishers have to come up with a sustainable model to cover all of the costs, so they are experimenting with DDA pricing. DDA overall is still an experiment for publishers, while librarians already have come to think of it as being a stable and welcome method of providing resources.

Derrik and I also started conversing with Proquest about how we will manage our existing DDA program in regards to the addition of ebrary Academic Complete to NC LIVE.

“The combined bookshops of Aux Amateurs de Livres and Touzot Librarie Internationale will be called Amalivre effective July 1, 2014.”

Regarding video, Mary Beth, Jeff, Derrik and I attended a presentation by two Australian librarians from different large universities (QUT and La Trobe, with FTE in tens of thousands). They reported on their shift to streaming video with Kanopy and here are a few bullets:

  • Among drivers for change were the flipped classroom and mobile use
  • 60% of the DVD collection had less than 5 views while streaming video titles licensed through Kanopy averaged over 50 views
  • 23% and 15% (two universities) of DVDs have never been viewed once
  • 1.7 and 1.8 (two universities) times is the true cost of DVD ownership
  • They have a keyboard accessibility arrangement for the visually impaired
  • Usage is growing for PDA and non-PDA titles in Kanopy [reminds us of our experience with e-books]
  • Discovery of the streaming videos came largely through faculty embedding videos in the CMS
  • Other discovery is not good for video, so they had Proquest add a radio button option for video to Summon to help promote discovery [can we do this?]
  • They concluded that because of greater use,online video is the greater value for the money spent

 

Carolyn at ALA Annual 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012 7:29 pm

Early Saturday morning, I attended a 4 hour panel discussion on linked data (LD) and next generation catalogs. I wanted to gain a better understanding of what exactly linked data is since that term is batted about frequently in the literature. I will try to explain it to the best of my ability, but I still have much to learn. So here it goes.

Uniform resource identifiers (URI) is a string of characters used to identify names for “things”. Specifically, HTTP URIs should be used so that people are able to look up those names. Useful information should be provided with URIs, as well as, links to other URIs so that individuals can discover even more useful things.Per Corey Harper, NYU’s Metadata Services Librarian, we need to start thinking about metadata as a graph instead of string based as is most of our data currently. Typed “things” are named by URIs, and relationships between “things” are also built on URIs. LD allows users to move back and forth between information sources where the focus is on identification rather than description.

Mr. Harper provided several examples of LD sites available on the Web, some of which individuals and institutions may contribute data. Google owned Freebase is a community curated collection of RDF data of about 21 million “things”. Freebase provides a link to Google Refine that allows individuals to dump their metadata, clean it up, and then link it back to Freebase. Thinkbase displays the contents of Freebase utilizing mindmap to explore millions of interconnected topics.

Phil Schreur, who is the head of the Metadata Department for Stanford University libraries, talked about shattering the catalog, freeing the data, and linking the pieces. Today’s library catalogs are experiencing increased stressors such as:

  • Pressure to be inclusive–the more is better approach as seen with Google
  • Loss of cataloging–the acceptance and use of vendor bulk records; by genericizing our catalogs, we are weakening our ties to our user/collection community
  • Variations in metadata quality
  • Supplementary data–should the catalog just be an endless supply of links
  • Bibliographic records–catalogers spend lots of time tinkering with them
  • Need for a relational database for discovery–catalogs are domain silos that are unlinked to anything else
  • Missing or hidden metadata–universities are data creation powerhouses (e.g. reading lists, course descriptions, student research/data sets, faculty collaborations/lectures); these are often left out of catalog, and it would be costly to include them

Linked open data is the solution along with some reasons why:

  • It puts information on the Web and eliminates Google as our users’ first choice
  • Expands discoverability
  • Opens opportunities for creative innovation
  • Continuous improvement of data
  • Creates a store of machine-actionable data–semantic meaning in MARC record is unintelligible to machines
  • Breaks down silos
  • Provides direct access to data based in statements and not in records–less maintenance of catalog records
  • Frees ourselves from a parochial metadata model to a more universal one

Schreur proceeded to discuss 4 paradigm shifts involving data.

  1. Data is something that is shared and is built upon, not commodified. Move to open data, not restricted records.
  2. Move from bibliographic records to statements linked by RDF. One can reach into documents at chapter and document level.
  3. Capture data at point of creation. The model of creating individual bibliographic records cannot stand. New means of automated data will need to be developed.
  4. Manage triplestores; not adding more records to catalog. The amount of data is overwhelming. Applications will need to be developed to bring in data.

He closed by stating the notion of authoritative is going to get turned on its head. The Web is already doing that. Sometimes Joe Blow knows more than the national library. This may prove difficult for librarians and catalogers to accept since our work has revolved around authoritative sources and data.

OCLC’s Ted Fons spoke about WorldCat.org”s June 20, 2012 adoption of schema.org descriptive mark-up to its database. Schema.org is a collaboration between Bing, Google, Yahoo, and Russian search index Yandex and is an agreed ontology for harvesting structured data from the web. The reasons behind doing this includes:

  • Makes library data appear more relevant in search engine results
  • Gain position of authority in data modeling in a post-MARC era
  • Promote internal efficiency and new services

Jennifer Bowen, Chair of the eXtensible Catalog Organization, believes LD can help libraries assist and fulfill new roles in the information needs of our users. Scholars want their research to be findable by others, and they want to connect with others. Libraries are being bypassed not only by Google and the Web, but users are also going to tailored desktops, mobile, and Web apps. Libraries need to push their collections to mobile apps and LD allows us to do just that. Hands-on experience with LD to understand its potential and to develop LD best practices is needed. We need to create LD for our local resources (e.g. Institutional Repository) to showcase special collections. Vendors need to be encouraged to implement LD now! Opportunities for creative innovation in digital scholarship and participation can be fostered by utilizing LD.

A tool that will enable libraries to move from its legacy data to LD is needed. The eXtensible Catalog (XC) is open source software for libraries and provides a discovery system and set of tools available for download. It provides a platform for risk-free experimentation with metadata transformation/reuse. RDF/XML, RDFa, and SPARQL are 3 methods of bulk creating metadata. XC converts MARC data to FRBR entities and enables us to produce more meaningful LD. Reasons to use FRBR for LD include:

  • User research shows that users want to see the relationships between resources, etc. Users care about relationships.
  • Allows scholars to create LD statements as part of the scholarly process. Vocabularies are created and managed. Scholars’ works become more discoverable.
  • Augments metadata.

The old model of bibliographic data creation will continue for some time. We are at the beginning of the age of data, and the amount of work is crushing. Skills in cataloging is what is needed in this new age, but a recasting of what we do and use is required. We are no longer the Cataloging Department but the Metadata Department. The tools needed to create data and make libraries’ unique collections available on the Web will change, and catalogers should start caring more about the context and curation of metadata and learning LD vocabulary.

While this was my second visit to Anaheim, CA to attend ALA’s Annual Conference, it was my first time ever presenting at a national conference. On Sunday morning starting at 8 am, Erik Mitchell and I hosted and convened the panel discussion, Current Research on and Use of FRBR in Libraries. The title of our individual presentation was FRBRizing Mark Twain.

We began the session with a quick exploration of some of the metadata issues that libraries are encountering as we explore new models including FRBR and linked open data. Erik and I discussed our research which explored metadata quality issues that arose when we applied the FRBR model to a selected set of records in ZSR’s catalog. The questions to our research were two-fold:

  1. What metadata quality problems arise in application of FRBRization algorithms?
  2. How do computational and expert approaches compare with regards to FRBRization?

So in a nutshell, this is how we did it:

  1. Erik extracted 848 catalog records on books either by or about Mark Twain.
  2. He extracted data from the record set and normalized text keys from elements of the metadata.
  3. Data was written to a spreadsheet and loaded into Google Refine to assist with analysis.
  4. Carolyn grouped records into work-sets and created a matrix of unique identifiers.
  5. Because of metadata variation, Carolyn performed a secondary analysis using book-in-hand approach for 5 titles (approx. 100 books).
  6. Expert review found 410 records grouped in 147 work-sets with 2 or more expressions and 420 records grouped into 420 single expression work sets. Lost/missing or checked out books were not looked at and account for the numbers not adding up to the 848 records in the record set.
  7. Metadata issues encountered included the need to represent whole/part or manifestation to multiple work relationships, metadata inconsistency (i.e. differences in record length, composition, invalid unique identifiers), and determining work boundaries.
  8. Utilizing algorithms, Erik performed a computational assessment to identify and group work-sets.
  9. Computational and expert assessments were compared to each other.

Erik and I were really excited to see that computational techniques were largely as successful as expert techniques. We found, for example, that normalized author/title strings created highly accurate keys for identifying unique works. On the other hand, we also found that MARC metadata did not always contain the metadata needed to identify works entirely. Our detailed findings will be presented at the ASIS&T conference in October. Here are our slides:

Current Research on and Use of FRBR in Libraries

Our other invited speakers included:

  • OCLC’s Chief Scientist Thom Hickey who spoke about clustering at the FRBR entity 1 work level OCLC’s database, which is under 300 million records, and clustering within work-sets by expression using algorithm keys; FRBR algorithm creation and development; and the fall release of GLIMIR which attempts to cluster WorldCat’s records and holdings for the same work at the manifestation level.
  • Kent State’s School of Information and Library Science professors Drs. Athena Salaba and Yin Zhang discussed their IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) funded project, a FRBR prototype catalog. Library of Congress cataloging records were extracted from WorldCat to create a FRBRized catalog. Users were tested to see if they could complete a set of user tasks in the library’s current catalog and in the prototype.
  • Jennifer Bowen, Chair of XC organization and Assistant Dean for Information Management Services at the University of Rochester, demonstrated the XC catalog to the audience. The XC project didn’t set out to see if people liked FRBR, but what are our users trying to do with the catalog’s data. According to Ms. Bowen, libraries are/should be moving away from thinking we know what users need to what do users need to do in their research. How do users keep current in their field? In regards to library data, we need to ask our users, “What would they do with a magic wand?” and continue to ponder “What will the user needs of the future be?

Following our session, I attended a packed room of librarians eager to hear more about Library of Congress’ (LC) Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative (BFI) which is looking to translate the MARC21 format, a 40 year old standard, to a LD model. LC has contracted with Zepheira to help accelerate the launch of BFI. By August/September, an LD working draft will hopefully be ready to present to the broader library community.

Chris at the 2010 NASIG Conference- Day 1

Sunday, June 27, 2010 8:41 pm

This year, NASIG celebrated its 25th anniversary at its conference in Palm Springs, California. Since I was not part of the conference planning committee, I was able to be an “attendee” once again and learn more about the latest challenges for serials and other continuing resources. These are the highlights for the sessions I attended on the first day.

Vision Session #1: Eric Miller of Zepheira, LLC on Linked Data and Librarians

With linked data becoming the latest trend in computing, I was glad that I attended Erik‘s session before going to the conference! Linked data allows users to pull information that had been previously inaccessible on the “front end” of websites and makes it available for users to connect it to other data points across the Internet. Miller went further to explain that this does not involve bringing this data together into one database: rather, applications and similar programs would manipulate the data without harvesting it locally.

Where does this leave libraries? Miller suggested that libraries can participate by contributing their expertise in specific areas such as controlled vocabulary and data portability. Sites such as the BBC and The New York Times have made their information available to users on the back end, but creating standards for that data would be the next possible step. As with so many other emerging technologies, libraries may have an advantage in bringing eventual order to the initial chaos.

Strategy Session- Not for the Faint of Heart! A New Approach to “Serials” Management

This session was presented by two members of OCLC about developing new approaches to managing the workflows required to serials in electronic format. Working as a partner with several libraries, OCLC has begun to develop a user-driven product that can respond to the specific needs of a particular institution. Core portions of the electronic management workflow have been outlined already: selecting and ordering, negotiation and licensing, receiving and maintenance, and payment and invoicing. Combining these with several “pain points” that can create potential bottlenecks in the workflow, OCLC hopes to aid libraries by making this process as routine and painless as possible.

The results for this study by OCLC are expected to be released later this year, and the presenters sought feedback from the audience as to any information that they may have missed. Although the title and description of this presentation did not correspond with what was presented, it was interesting nonetheless. It demonstrated that others are attempting the grapple with the issues associated with the concerns of electronic serials management.

Tactics Session- Don’t Pay Twice! Leveraging Licenses to Lower Student Costs

UCLA relies heavily on printed course readers that supplement the textbooks that students are required to purchase for their classes. In 2008, several student organizations approached the library about how to reduce the costs for these readers, which were usually assembled using articles and other materials that had been licensed by the library. Two librarians approached this dilemma by examining every aspect of a course pack, from the license negotiations for journals all the way to the costs of with the campus copy center. As a result, the library was able to reduce the costs for the readers by as much as $42,000 over three quarters (depending on the discipline, emphasis on journals over monographs, and so forth) as well as hundreds of dollars in copying fees. In the end, the library was not only able to gain more from its license negotiations, but it was able to leverage its campus connections to create successful partnerships with student organizations.

Moving forward, the librarians considered other possibilities: developing potential partnerships with the bookstore, analyzing the pros and cons of an annual license with the Copyright Clearance Center, assessing whether the potential risk of fair use would be viable and sustainable, examining other options such as the public domain and Creative Commons, and support for license portals. The question of developing electronic course readers that could be placed behind course management software has also emerged, and that may reduce costs further. By successfully marketing this program through student organizations, its continued growth and success seems assured. This library service can be progressive as the licensing process will evolve in the coming years.

Tactics Session- Licensing Electronic Journals through Non-Subscription-Agent “Go Betweens”

Subscription agents have long served an essential function in serials management, serving as intermediaries between libraries and publishers. However, there are areas around the world where subscription agents neither have a significant presence nor a relationship with the local publishers. This is where non-agents can play a role. Non-agents function as either for-profit or non-profit entities that work between libraries and publishing agencies- particularly society presses and small agencies- in foreign countries. The cost of their business is not passed to libraries, and the invoices for purchased items come directly from those publishers.

This is a business model of which I was unaware before the conference. As the curriculum of the university continues to build an international focus, the usefulness of these non-agents becomes clear. I believe that it could have possibilities for subscriptions that cannot be secured by any other method, and it could have a similar benefit for monographs. Two organizations that serve in this capacity are Accucoms and FASEB.

* * *

Here is a photo taken from the flight on the way to Palm Springs. More to come in Day 2!


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