Posts in category: technology

Treat IT projects as library projects, and vice versa

Roy Tennant

2017-06-27-TreatITProjectsAsLibrary Projects

Last month, 40 library software developers from the United States, Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands came to Dublin, Ohio, to participate in a two-day conference focused on OCLC’s machine services. Designed to be used by computers, machine services are also called “application program interfaces” or APIs. They enable library developers to write software that can use these services while retaining control over the user interface.

Over the two days of this inaugural DEVCONNECT meeting, developers heard from both OCLC staff and staff from member libraries about our APIs and how to use them to create effective services. Karen Coombs also taught a half-day workshop on tips for developers using APIs.

Jennifer Vinopal, Associate Director for Information Technology for University Libraries at Ohio State University, was the keynote speaker, and you can view her presentation in the video below.

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3 million knocks on library doors every day

Mary Sauer-Games

API_blogHow do we help information seekers find library resources online? OCLC began asking that question more than 10 years ago. The 2005 Perceptions Report showed that almost nobody began information searches at library websites. Aware of the changes in information seeking behavior, we’d begun the OCLC “Open WorldCat” program in 2003 in order to get library metadata into popular online services. Open WorldCat provided direct access to the data in WorldCat to a variety of search and discovery providers who then linked users back to resources in member libraries.

At the end of the pilot that launched Open WorldCat, we were getting around 4,000 hits per day, which we considered successful enough to warrant moving forward. We have continued to add services that drive users to OCLC services and member libraries. One of our fastest-growing services is our suite of APIs.

Today, we’re seeing more than 3 million hits per day to OCLC APIs.

What makes that possible? One reason is that the diversity of APIs we offer allows a range of partners to tap into the cooperative’s resources for a variety of purposes. A quick look at one of the

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Here comes the sun

Jeff Jacobs

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Certain things are wonderful because they are unique. Artwork, musical performances, memories, the important people in our lives. In these cases, we treasure differences.

That is not true, however, for software development. While a service or a feature may perform a very specialized task, the background infrastructure isn’t helped by inconsistencies. Every time you add a different piece of hardware, operating system, software platform or process, you multiply the number of ways you’ll need to maintain your code, impacting quality and driving costs up.

In the technology realm, these inconsistencies are referred to as “snowflakes.” I like to refer to the process of eliminating these inconsistencies as melting snowflakes. Because, just like in real life, snowflakes may be interesting, but they’re not great for software development—they often make you slow down or slip up when you want to move quickly.

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