Let’s cook up some metadata consistency

cooking_consistency

Let’s say you’re writing a cookbook and describing ingredients. For sure you’re going to want to be consistent from one recipe to the next. If you don’t want to confuse your readers, it’s good not to refer to one amount as “a pinch” in one recipe and “a dollop” or “a smidge” in another.

Then you look around and realize that other people are writing cookbooks and they have some standards. That’s not a pinch, to them; it’s a teaspoon to some or 5 milliliters to others. What you call a “chunk” everybody else calls “a quarter cup” or “32 grams.” So, you need to be consistent not just within your own cookbook, but with others’ cookbooks, regardless of the dish being prepared—roasts, stir fries, desserts, soups, etc.

Librarians and archivists in data repositories are learning to think like this as well. Because the data being deposited for reuse has much greater value to their institutions when the metadata attached to it are consistent at the study level, the data level, and the file level.

Read More


2 miles or 10,000 miles—ILL makes us one library

40th-ill-anniversary

Recently, the interlibrary loan (ILL) staff at the Loyola Notre Dame Library (LOY) tracked the locations around the world from which they borrow and lend library materials. The exercise was prompted by a student who, after being shown ILL by staff members Kate Strain and Zach Gahs-Buccheri, asked, “What’s the farthest library that you’ve gotten an item from?”

Turns out the answer was the Dalton McCaughey Library at the University of Melbourne in Australia, which is 10,038 miles from LOY in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

What a great example of how ILL makes us one big library with endless shelves. No library can possibly have on hand every item it needs. For that we rely on the resource sharing communities we build. In fact, some libraries keep things in their collections to circulate primarily via ILL rather than locally. That’s the commitment they have to sharing resources.

Read More


Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

social_capital

When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

Read More


Library Futures: Three very special kinds of networking

Helene Blowers

next_arc19_group

I’ve been to literally hundreds of library events over the years. Of all kinds. The one thing they all seem to have in common—according to both attendees and people who help plan and produce the events—is the opportunity for “networking.” I put “networking” in quotes, because I think we use it as a catch-all term for a variety of activities.

“Networking” can be, I think, anything from informal hanging out with colleagues to actively cultivating specific professional relationships with new influencers. All of which can be enjoyable. But it leaves me thinking about the specific networking opportunities that events can offer.

Having just attended the first of our OCLC “Library Futures: Community Catalysts” Regional Council Conferences in Phoenix, Arizona, I realized that these membership events provide three different kinds of networking opportunities that are invaluable, especially to career-climbing professionals.

Read More


Open content: where we are and where we’re going

Rachel Frick

open_road

Last year during Open Access Week, I wrote to you to encourage your participation in our Open Content Survey. The timing was fortuitous, as there was (and is) a great appetite for understanding the evolving open content landscape and what it means for libraries. At OCLC, we were forging ahead with research, product development, MARC proposals, publisher agreements, and more. All with the goal of enhancing the visibility and accessibility of open content for library users. You can learn more about responses to the Open Content Survey in this results summary, and watch a recording of our “Works in Progress” webinar, “The Shift to Open at University and Research Libraries Worldwide.” In this webinar, my colleague Titia van der Werf (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) shares more results from the study.

Now it’s Open Access Week 2019, and over the last year we’ve made some excellent progress.

Read More


Always judge a book by its cover

Brittany Brannon

cover_header

We asked students to identify the types of containers from which online information is taken. Information containers can be important, obviously, because they provide critical context when evaluating the quality of sources. One said:

“This one looks like a—wait, I can’t tell what that is, but it looks like a book.”

Wait. It… looks like a book? Let’s try again:

“Pretty sure it had an ISBN number. It’s an article. Oh, no, books usually have—well, you can download the entire book or download the chapter. So, I’m thinking it’s a book. And it doesn’t have the edition, but I kind of want to say it’s a book about this book.”

That’s closer, but we can do better.

Read More


To the rescue: How academic libraries can support humanities monographs through open access

Suzanne Kemperman

academic_monograph_02

When we think about open access (OA) publishing in academia, it’s very often about articles. That is, relatively short, data- and research-focused pieces in peer-reviewed journals. Trends in open science, public funding, cost containment, and library collection development have driven a lot of those conversations, and they’re important.

Today, though, I’d like to talk about the scholarly monograph. Book-length content published as a stand-alone work is not the norm for many of the hard sciences. But it is often the end result of important work done in the humanities, liberal arts, and social sciences—and often required for tenure and promotion in those disciplines.

The trends we’re seeing in OA for article-level materials are very promising. But they also often work against monograph publishing, which is not good for academic presses working in the humanities.

There is an opportunity here, however, for academic libraries to engage in OA publishing to promote and protect the work being done by their humanities scholars.

Read More


The resource sharing gene: still going strong after 40 years!

Tony Melvyn

40th-ill-anniversary

I have worked in OCLC Resource Sharing for more than 33 years and I think that librarians are born with a ‘togetherness’ gene. Sharing is one of our profession’s bedrock values—sharing work, sharing collections, sharing knowledge. Nowhere is this value practiced more diligently than with interlibrary loan. We build our collections and share our materials with a commitment to serve our users—who we consider to be anyone, anywhere in the world!

It stands to reason, then, that resource sharing is one of the most popular topics on our Next blog. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of OCLC ILL this year, I invite you to enjoy three of our most-read resource sharing posts again.

Read More


Breaking through change barriers in three steps

Charles Pace

Change

By Charles Pace, Executive Director, Gwinnett County Public Library, and
Michael Casey, Director of Customer Experience, Gwinnett County Public Library

What role does the library play in the community? That was one of many questions that led the Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) toward organizational change in 2016. We were (and still are!) fully committed to being a continuous change organization with a clear outside-in focus and a customer-centric approach. It’s been a journey, and our biggest lesson is probably that we always have more to learn. Change is complex. What’s helped is keeping our ultimate purpose in clear view. And for us, every initiative is always geared towards improved service to the community.

Read More


Celebrating 20 years of the IFLA/OCLC Fellowship Program

IFLA_banner

Who would have imagined that the program announced at the 1999 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Thailand would have such an incredible, far-reaching impact? That’s exactly what the Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Fellowship, an education and professional development program for early career librarians from developing countries, has done. Twenty years later, the program has realized the potential noted by Jay Jordan, OCLC’s fourth President and CEO, in the program’s inaugural announcement, “to positively affect individuals, their institutions, their countries, and the global knowledge management practices of the future.”

Read More