OCLC Research Quarterly Highlights
Issue 7 : Second Quarter : October–December 2012
OCLC 754109685 : ISSN 2163-8675

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A message from Lorcan Dempsey

Lorcan Dempsey

Libraries are increasingly taking a system-wide perspective of their roles and services. This can take different forms. Think of the close collaboration within the Orbis Cascade Alliance for example, where academic libraries in Washington and Oregon are moving to a shared systems infrastructure. Or think of the various initiatives looking at managing down individual print collections within a coordinated collective framework, WEST, for example. Or think of collaboratively sourced initiatives to tackle new service areas, Hathi Trust for example. Of course, in many countries there are publicly funded bodies who are charged with managing shared services or development work. Think of the variety of ways in which union catalogs are provided in European countries, or the role in national provision of some national libraries, or the national work of educational organizations like JISC in the UK. At the same time, libraries are looking to simplify their infrastructure requirements through cloud-based approaches. Think of the wide deployment of Libguides for example, or of the growing adoption of discovery layer products, or of the move to cloud based systems infrastructure (resolver, ILS).

In each of these cases, libraries are looking at different models of sourcing their needs – collaborative, public, and third party respectively. They are also looking at doing things at different scales – shared with a group, at national or regional level, or working with a supplier at the institutional level. Sourcing and scaling now pose interesting policy and service questions across library services.

Recognizing the importance of these questions, we have organized some of our activity in a new program area to address them: system-wide organization. Our early work in this area has focused on the collective print collection, mining our data to provide community intelligence to support decisions about the future configuration of print collections. The influential "Cloud Library" report (Cloud-sourcing Research Collections) provided a framing context for this work, and was followed up more recently with Print Management at 'Mega-scale', which is the first study of its kind, showing the geographic concentrations of collections. This work has been very purposefully connected with policy and organizational issues and we work closely with most of the major initiatives tackling this question. We have also carried out the largest study of circulation data to date, the OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis, and are preparing a synthesis of those findings. Another strand of current activity is exploring how national literatures are represented in the global library resource, and a case study will be published soon.

While early work has focused on applying data analysis to policy questions, we are now working with individual libraries to think about the wider context of sourcing and scaling across the breadth of their work. Here is how we describe it on the theme's web pages:

System-wide organization explores the shift from local provisioning of library collections and services to increased reliance on cooperative infrastructure, collective collections, shared technology platforms, and "above-the-institution" management strategies. At the same time, we examine the array of collections and services that are best provided at the level of the local institution. Our research agenda in system-wide organization aims to improve our understanding of the factors that guide institutions in their sourcing and scaling choices as they seek maximum impact and efficient provision of library collections and services.

Libraries are embarked on a shift to greater engagement with the research, learning and development lives of their users, and reconfiguring space, services, expertise and infrastructure to facilitate this. Our agenda is being designed to provide examples and research findings which assist in this shift.

Further Information:

Reports Mentioned

  1. Cloud-sourcing Research Collections: Managing Print in the Mass-digitized Library Environment
  2. Print Management at 'Mega-scale': a Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America

OCLC Research Activity Pages

  1. System-wide Organization
  2. Managing the Collective Collection
  3. OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis

As always if you are interested in discussion or collaboration around these themes, please get in touch.

Regards, Lorcan Dempsey

Lorcan Dempsey is Vice President, OCLC Research, and Chief Strategist


Merrilee Proffitt
Martha O'Hara Conway and Merrilee Proffitt
The Practice, Power, and Promise of Archival Collections Assessment

The authors describe how archival collections assessment enables institutions to better serve the needs of users, allocate resources and acquire funding. RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 13 (Fall):100-112.

Lorcan Dempsey
Lorcan Dempsey
Libraries and the Informational Future: Some Notes

This paper discusses environmental trends for libraries and some consequences for library education. The overarching theme is that we need to prepare for systemic changes by better understanding how organizations are being reshaped by networks. In Information Professionals 2050: Educational Possibilities and Pathways, edited by Gary Marchionini and Barbara B. Moran and published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lorcan Dempsey
Lorcan Dempsey
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Libraries, Discovery, and the Catalog: Scale, Workflow, Attention

This article discusses the position of the catalog and uses it to illustrate more general discovery and workflow directions for libraries. It should be of interest to those who manage or make decisions about discovery services in libraries, or who are interested in how general Internet trends are affecting library services. EDUCAUSE Review Online (Monday, December 10, 2012).

Ricky Erway
Ricky Erway and Brian Lavoie
The Economics of Data Integrity

In this paper the authors describe the aspects of costs and sustainability of data curation as they pertain to data integrity. In Curating for Quality: Ensuring Data Quality to Enable New Science, edited by Gary Marchionini, Christopher A. Lee, and Heather Bowden, 53-56. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ixchel Faniel
Ixchel Faniel, Adam Kriesberg, and Elizabeth Yakel
Data Reuse and Sensemaking among Novice Social Scientists

Describes how novice data reusers made sense of quantitative social science data. This report highlights one aspect of the IMLS-funded DIPIR project. Forthcoming in Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 49. Baltimore, MD October 26-30, 2012.

Lynn Silipigni Connaway
Marie Radford and Lynn Silipigni Connaway
Not Dead Yet! A Longitudinal Study of Query Type and Ready Reference Accuracy in Live Chat and IM Reference

This paper presents results of a longitudinal study of users of virtual reference services. The research reveals that users of virtual reference services (VRS) value accurate answers to their queries and a pleasant interpersonal encounter, that the proportion of ready reference queries remains stable, and that accuracy of answers has improved. This paper won the 2013 ALISE/Bohdan S. Wynar Research Paper Competition. Library & Information Science Research, 35,1.

Roy Tennant
Roy Tennant
Furthering Your Career

In his chapter, Tennant describes the strategies for professional engagement and growth that are necessary for building a successful and meaningful career. In Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian: A LITA Guide, edited by Jane D. Monson. Chicago: American Library Association (2013).

Brian Lavoie
Sally Vermaaten, Brian Lavoie, and Priscilla Caplan
Identifying Threats to Successful Digital Preservation: the SPOT Model for Risk Assessment

This paper proposes a new outcome-based model, the Simple Property-Oriented Threat (SPOT) Model for Risk Assessment.D-Lib Magazine, 18,9/10 (September/October 2012).

Ed O'Neill
Maja Žumer and Edward T. O’Neill
Modeling Aggregates in FRBR

In the bibliographic environment, the term aggregate is used to describe a bibliographic entity formed by combining distinct bibliographic units together. Aggregates are a large and growing class of information resources. This paper examines a proposed definition and explores how aggregates can be modeled. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 50,5-7:456-472.

Prototypes and Services

LibraryFinder—Library Finder uses the WorldCat Registry API to locate libraries near a given location and displays the contact information, website, and library type when available. It uses the HTML5 Geolocation API in supported browsers to determine where a user is, and Responsive Web Design to make the website fully mobile friendly. LibraryFinder supports FF6+, Safari, Chrome, or IE9+

assignFAST—A Web service for FAST Subject selection, assignFAST explores automating the manual selection of the Authorized and Use For headings based on autosuggest technology.

Kindred Works—Kindred Works is an experimental recommender service that helps you discover books, movies and music similar to a sample work of your choice. You can begin using Kindred Works by entering a title or ISBN in the search box or by selecting one of the samples provided.

WorldCat Identities—The ID Network uses the Identities and WorldCat APIs to allow users to explore the interconnectivity and relationships among WorldCat Identities. Users can easily jump from Identity to Identity by selecting the name in the Identity Network Map. An Identity can be a person, a thing (the Titanic), a fictitious character (Harry Potter), or a corporation (IBM).

Looking Beyond the Quarter...

Past Forward!
Meeting Stakeholder Needs in 21st Century Special Collections

Exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners, this meeting will cover topics related to managing special collections in the 21st century.

More info


Year-end Hangingtogether.org Blog Postings Reflect on 2012 OCLC Research High Points
OCLC Research Senior Program Officer Merrilee Proffitt is reflecting on some of the high points from 2012 in a miniseries of blog postings on hangingtogether.org. More...
OCLC Research Library Partnership Welcomes Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library
We are pleased to welcome the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library to the OCLC Research Library Partnership! More...
VIAFbot Edits 250,000 Wikipedia Articles to Reciprocate All Links from VIAF into Wikipedia
A total of .25 million reciprocal links from VIAF have now been added to Wikipedia which were algorithmically matched by name, important dates, and selected works. More...
OCLC Research Senior Program Officers Erway, Proffitt and Tennant Featured in Digital Pioneers Project
Digital Pioneers is a project to document early innovations in the use of digitization in libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies in the words of the people who were an integral part of it all. More...
OCLC Research Library Partnership Welcomes Two New Partners from Australia: Monash University and University of Queensland
We are pleased to report that these two universities have joined the OCLC Research Library Partnership in the past month. More...
ArchiveGrid Transitioning to Free Service in January 2013
Work is currently underway to transition the ArchiveGrid database of archival collection descriptions from a subscription service to a free service on a new interface developed and managed by OCLC Research. More...
OCLC Senior Research Scientist Lynn Silipigni Connaway Wins ALISE/Bohdan S. Wynar Research Paper Competition
Connaway and her research partner, Marie L. Radford, of Rutgers U., garnered the award for their paper forthcoming in Library & Information Science Research. More...
OCLC Research Software Architect Jeff Young Honored as 2012 Kent State University SLIS Alumnus of the Year
Jeff Young was selected to receive this award for his significant accomplishments with using Linked Data to increase the presence and discoverability of library data and materials on the web. More...
Open Access Wikipedia Challenge Extended Indefinitely
This free online course teaches basic Wikipedia skills and utilizes open content from a new Open Access Bot. More...
OCLC Research Launches Registering Researchers in Authority Files Activity
This activity seeks to summarize the benefits and trade-offs of emerging approaches to the problem of incomplete national authority files. More...
Kindred Works, an Experimental Recommender Service from OCLC Research, Uses Characteristics of a Sample Work to Generate a List of Related Items
This prototype uses various characteristics of a sample work, such as classification numbers, subject headings, and genre terms, to provide a list of WorldCat items similar to the sample. More...
assignFAST: Subject Assignment using Autosuggest
OCLC Research announces the availability of assignFAST, a new Web service that automates the manual selection of FAST Subjects based on autosuggest technology. More...
Celebrate Open Access Week with the Wikipedia Challenge and Become Wikipedia Fluent
The Wikipedia Challenge teaches basic Wikipedia skills and utilizes open content from a new Open Access Bot. More...
A complete list of OCLC Research news items is available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/news.html.

Events, Webcasts and Presentations

Survey of Special Collections & Archives in UK/Ireland Outcomes Highlighted in Jackie Dooley’s RLUK Conference Slides
OCLC Research Program Officer Jackie Dooley presented "The RLUK/OCLC Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the UK and Ireland: Outcomes and Perspectives" at the RLUK Conference 2012 on 16 November in Newcastle, England. More...
OCLC Research at the CNI Fall 2012 Membership Meeting
OCLC Research Senior Program Officer Merrilee Proffitt will present "Wikipedia and Libraries: What's the Connection?" with Sara Snyder from the Smithsonian Institution at this meeting. More...
OCLC Research Hosts Free Wikipedia Loves Libraries Event at the Seattle Public Library
OCLC Research Wikipedian in Residence Max Klein organized this event to continue to build momentum for the Wikipedia Loves Libraries initiative, a continent-wide campaign to bring Wikipedia and libraries together with on-site events. More...
Linking Library Data to Wikipedia Part II Video Explains How VIAFbot Links VIAF Records to Wikipedia References
In the video, OCLC Research Wikipedian in Residence Max Klein and Senior Program Officer Merrilee Proffitt discuss how VIAFbot was created, how it works and what progress it has made. More...
Preservation Health Check Workshop Summary Report and Presentations Available
This workshop, held by OCLC Research and the Open Planets Foundation at iPRES2012 on 2 October 2012, explored the use of real life preservation metadata for risk assessment. More...
OCLC Research at the Archival Leaders Advocate Annual Seminar
OCLC Research Program Officer and President of the Society of American Archivists Jackie Dooley presented "Digital Archives and Society" at this event at the Center for Jewish History in New York City. More...
OCLC Research at EDUCAUSE 2012
OCLC Senior Research Scientist Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D., spoke at this event at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. More...
OCLC Research at the Libraries Australia 2012 Forum
OCLC Research Senior Program Officer Merrilee Proffitt gave a keynote presentation at this event. Her presentation is titled, "Moving the Past into the Present: Special Collections in a Digital Age." More...
Lorcan Dempsey's "The Research Library: Scalable Efficiency and Scalable Learning" Presentation Now Available
This presentation covers two important trends that are emerging as research libraries are being reconfigured in a network environment. This lecture was given at the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). More...
OCLC Research at Internet Librarian 2012, in Monterey, California
OCLC Research Senior Program Officer Roy Tennant made two presentations at this conference: "Technology Planning: What's on Your Horizon?" and "Transforming the Library Empire: Possible?" More...
OCLC Research Wikipedian in Residence Max Klein Encourages Libraries to Host Wikipedia Loves Libraries Events
Wikipedia Loves Libraries is a general initiative to improve Wikipedia engagement by bringing Wikipedia and libraries together through on-site events at libraries, archives and related institutions. More...
OCLC Research Consulting Project Manager Eric Childress to Give Opening Keynote at OLAC 2012 on 19 October
The OLAC 2012 conference will take place in Albuquerque, NM and feature presentations that offer expert and practical advice on cataloging audiovisual materials as well as workshops in which catalogers can exchange information. OCLC Research at the 2012 LITA National Forum. More...
OCLC Research staff presented a poster session about Kindred Works [link] and also a concurrent session about WorldCat Library Finder at the 15th Annual LITA National Forum.
The LITA National Forum is a highly regarded annual event for those involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. More...
A complete list of OCLC Research events is available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/events.html.

OCLC Researcher Spotlight—Titia van der Werf and Innovation in Information Services

Titia van der Werf

Since my studies in History and Informatics in the ‘80s, I have been fascinated by the impact of ICT on society. The introduction of the OPAC in university libraries was just one of the many significant changes that have revolutionized the way we access and find information. We thought computers would help us find the needle in the haystack of print publications (the title of my master thesis - in 1987) but then came the web – which turned out to be a much more massive and dynamic haystack of digital data. How were libraries going to deal with that?

My first assignment at the national library of the Netherlands in 1993, was to structure and organize the information services of SURFnet. They had a software archive, a Gopher service and later on, a Search engine for indexing the Dutch web domain. Those were extremely exciting times because we felt like pioneers, introducing library best practices to the fallow fields of the Internet. I remember how we promoted enthusiastically the use of Dublin Core Simple in the heading of HTML-pages, so that SURFnet’s Search Engine could index these metadata and produce better search results. The importance of identification and localization of web resources was soon to become a nightmare, as the never ending discussions about URIs did not translate in scalable solutions and real practices.

By the end of the 1990’s, we began to realize that the Web was different from print publications and that the traditional information management practices and bibliographic control mechanisms did not work for the web. The web seemed to be deconstructing all traditional information units into smaller, more volatile units.

Recently, our work on the Europeana innovation pilots made me aware of this again, but in a kind of inverted way. Europeana is a metadata aggregation of library, archive and museum collections in Europe and a discovery portal for digital European cultural heritage. In the Europeana aggregation the digitized and itemized collections have lost their original context (book, archival inventory, etc.) and they lead to lots of similar results during searches in the portal. In a collaborative effort between Europeana and OCLC Research, we set ourselves the challenge to develop clustering methods that would create automatically meaningful relations between the items and across the collections. After a year of experimentation, it turns out that the most obvious clusters are those that reconstruct the original artefacts and contexts of the collections.

Titia van der Werf is a Senior Program Officer based in Leiden.