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President's Report
A word from Jay Jordan

Generating new connections for libraries and their users

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OCLC recently took some important steps toward increasing the availability of the cooperative’s data for libraries and people around the world through linked data and data licensing recommendations.


Linked data

Libraries are increasingly exploring linked data as a way to make their bibliographic records available for free, on the Internet, so that they can be reused and more fully integrated into the broader Web environment. Linked data is meant for machine-to-machine consumption.

These linked data initiatives also build on alliances that OCLC began fostering as early as 2005 through WorldCat.org with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and others, such as HathiTrust.

In the past year, OCLC has been making the following available as linked data:

  • Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)—a full set of more than 38,000 assignable numbers and captions in English, available at the Dewey.info prototype for linked DDC data on the Web, which will assist developers working on apps as well as people who want to look up Dewey numbers

  • Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST)—a subject heading schema, created through a multiyear collaboration of OCLC Research and the Library of Congress to make the rich Library of Congress Subject Headings vocabulary available in a Web environment

  • Virtual International Authority File (VIAF)—a combination of multiple name authority files from 22 national libraries and agencies from 19 countries into a single name authority service.

On June 20, 2012, OCLC began to add Schema.org descriptive mark up to WorldCat.org pages. Schema.org is a collaboration among Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex (a Russian search engine) that has created a system model for efficient harvesting of structured data from the Web.

Making the entire publicly available version of WorldCat available for use by intelligent Web crawlers such as Google and Bing will raise the visibility of library resources and ultimately increase their availability. This is indeed an important advance for OCLC members, made possible by experience from previous linked data projects such as VIAF, Dewey Linked Data and FAST.

These linked data initiatives also build on alliances that OCLC began fostering as early as 2005 through WorldCat.org with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and others, such as HathiTrust.

In June 2012, we welcomed Max Klein to OCLC as “Wikipedian in Residence.” He is a Wikipedia editor and is working with OCLC researchers to explore ways that authoritative library data from WorldCat and VIAF can be integrated into entries in Wikipedia.

Most recently, OCLC released a downloadable linked data set for the 1.2 million most widely held works in WorldCat (those with at least 250 holdings). This file is now available to the wider linked data community of commercial providers, retail organizations, researchers and scholars to include in their workflows.

We will continue to look for ways to both encourage contribution to the WorldCat database and increase the availability of these valuable records for libraries and their users.

A recommended license for sharing catalog data

During the process of researching the above linked data initiatives, OCLC management has looked into different data licenses on OCLC and WorldCat data projects and consulted with the library and developer communities. At the April 2012 OCLC Global Council meeting, OCLC management had extensive discussions with delegates on an approach involving the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY). The Council passed a resolution that endorsed that approach and forwarded it to the OCLC Board of Trustees for further study.

In August, the Board announced that it recommends the ODC-BY for member institutions that would like to release their library catalog data on the Web. ODC-BY is a database specific license requiring attribution for databases, similar to the Creative Commons Attribution license, but built specifically for sharing data.

This approach lets libraries use WorldCat-derived data in a way that is consistent with the record use policy, “WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative.” Data can be freely shared subject only to attribution and OCLC’s request that those making use of WorldCat-derived data conform to the community norms.

Moreover, in September, Europeana (Europe’s digital library, archive and museum) and OCLC announced an agreement whereby OCLC member libraries can contribute WorldCat derived metadata to the Europeana.eu portal in a manner consistent with “WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative.”

Going forward, we will continue to look for ways to both encourage contribution to the WorldCat database and increase the availability of these valuable records for libraries and their users.

Jay Jordan
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer

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About the Author

  • Jay Jordan

    Jay Jordan

    Jay is the fourth president in OCLC's 46-year history. He came to OCLC in May 1998 after a 24-year career with IHS, an international publisher of databases, where he held a series of key positions in top management.

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration. Learn more »