OCLC Research Quarterly Highlights
Issue 10 : First Quarter : July-September 2013
OCLC 754109685 : ISSN 2163-8675

A message from Lorcan Dempsey

Lorcan Dempsey

School started a while ago. And once again, students at various levels are turning to those valuable educational resources: Facebook, Wikipedia, Khan Academy, Crash Course, Yahoo! Answers, and so on.

The network is rich in opportunity, at all levels, and, as we know, for much of the time Google has become the key to this opportunity. Google is the starting point for much student activity, as they research assignments or prepare for tests.

As I was thinking about this recently, I was aware of two contact points with our work. The first is the Visitors and Residents project in which we collaborate with Oxford University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, with support from Jisc in the UK (White and Connaway 2011-2012). This is exploring the different ways in which students—at various stages—engage with the network to get their work done. One of the interesting results of this work is the identification of the learning black market (Connaway, Lanclos, and Hood 2013).

David White, of Oxford University, describes this as follows:

In simple terms students personal use of the internet is generally very effective for their education but they are nervous that their practices are not valid and don’t reveal them to their tutors. The messages or lack of messages from educational institutions on these practices is generating a learning black market which masks the sheer scale of these new modes of engagement (David White 2011).

He goes on to talk about two examples. In the first students will use Facebook messaging to collaborate with each other as they look for help or work to get an assignment completed. He calls the second the GWR approach (Google > Wikipedia > References), where students search on their topic, find a Wikipedia article, and then extract from it references in the footnotes. We can readily think of other examples. Think of searching for worked out math or science problems on Google. It would be interesting to do some work to assess the extent to which Yahoo! Answers or other services are used in this regard. Some work is being done to identify the subject areas and types of questions asked in Yahoo! Answers and QuestionPoint (Radford, Connaway, and Shah 2011-2013.).

Of course, there are now many high quality open educational resources on the web. I mentioned Kahn Academy and Crash Course above. However, as anybody who has helped a middle-schooler compile a bibliography knows, there is some ambiguity, or perhaps more appropriately, some arbitrariness, around what is required or what is 'authoritative' when faced with the range of materials available. And as Dave notes above, because of "the messages or lack of messages from educational institutions" some behaviors are hidden.

The Visitors and Residents project is described in the following presentation.

What I describe above is an example of an increasingly important factor for libraries thinking about providing access to materials. Historically, in a print world, libraries bought and assembled published materials close to the user. And much of what those users wanted was available for purchase or licensing from publishers. Now, this model no longer holds. There are potentially many sources of potentially useful materials, and local assembly is not required. The library certainly still buys materials for their users, but what can be bought and what is potentially useful are no longer coextensive. There are many materials freely available to the user. And there are many materials available to the user for purchase which the library is not going to buy. What role does the library have in providing access to materials which it is not going to buy or license for its local collection? Of course, libraries have always provided this advice but the issue has become more stark in the current environment of multiple network sources of useful material.

Clearly, this raises many questions. And this brings me to the second activity I want to mention. We have begun looking at what is involved in selectively harvesting important open access resources to provide an access path for libraries to those materials. This is in early stages and the work is being carried out in the Innovation Lab, a unit of OCLC Research focused on service development.

A particular interest here is looking at publisher workflows. We are also interested in matching and linking this material to related materials published in other ways, and making those connections visible. This is very much an exploratory activity at the moment, and is driven by our recognition of the changing character of available resources.


Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, Donna Lanclos, and Erin M. Hood. 2013. “I find Google a lot easier than going to the library website.” Imagine ways to innovate and inspire students to use the academic library. Proceedings of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) 2013 conference, April 10-13, 2013, Indianapolis, IN. http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2013/papers/Connaway_Google.pdf.

Radford, Marie L., Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Chirag Shah. 2011-2013. “Cyber Synergy: Seeking Sustainability through Collaboration between Virtual Reference and Social Q&A Sites.” Institute for Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant. http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/synergy.html.

White, David. 2011. “The Learning Black Market.” TALL Blog: Online Education with the University of Oxford, 30 September. http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2011/09/30/the-learning-black-market/.

White, David, and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. 2011-2012. “Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment.” Jisc. http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/vandr.html and http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/projects/visitorsandresidents.aspx.

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

Share Now

Prototypes and Services


ArchiveGrid—ArchiveGrid is a discovery service that provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions. It includes over two million descriptions of archival collections held by thousands of libraries, museums, historical societies and archives worldwide. OCLC Research supports ArchiveGrid as the basis for our experimentation and testing in text mining, data analysis, and discovery system applications and interfaces.

WorldCat Cookbook Finder Cookbook Finder is an experimental, works-based application that provides access to thousands of cookbooks and other works about food and nutrition described in library records.

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).


Brian Lavoie
Brian Lavoie
Not Scotch But Rum: The Scope and Diffusion of the Scottish Presence in the Published Record

This report describes a repurposable, machine-processing-based methodology for identifying a country’s national presence.


Jeffrey Mixter
Jeffrey Mixter and Eric R. Childress
FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) Users: Summary and Case Studies

This report includes sixteen case studies from FAST adopters and non-adopters in six countries, as well as a profile of OCLC’s own use of FAST.


Bruce Washburn
Bruce Washburn, Ellen Eckert, and Merrilee Proffitt
Social Media and Archives: A Survey of Archive Users

This report provides survey findings about who uses archives and special collections for research, as well as how those users communicate and share information about systems like ArchiveGrid.


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. Catalogue 2.0: The Future of the Library Catalogue. A version of this article also appeared in EDUCAUSE Review Online (Monday, 10 December 2012).


Ixchel Faniel
Ixchel Faniel, Eric Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Julianna Barrera-Gomez, and Elizabeth Yakel
The Challenges of Digging Data: A Study of Context in Archaeological Data Reuse

This paper examines the needs of archaeological data reusers. JCDL 2013 Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, 295-304. A pre-print of this paper is available as a pdf (152K/12 pp.) from the OCLC Research website.


Brian Lavoie
Brian Lavoie and Richard Gartner
Preservation Metadata (2nd Edition)

This DPC Technology Watch Report focuses on new developments in preservation metadata made possible by the emergence of PREMIS as a de facto international standard. It will be of interest to digital preservation practitioners interested in learning about key issues in implementing preservation metadata, as well as anyone seeking to learn more about preservation metadata. The report is available as a pdf (pdf: 986K/40 pp.) from the Digital Preservation Coalition website.


Lynn Silipigni Connaway
Lynn Silipigni Connaway
Meeting the Expectations of the Community: The Engagement-Centered Library

This chapter, published in Library 2020, describes how the library in 2020 will be engagement-centered. Connaway was one of 30 leaders in the library profession who contributed to the book, Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library (Lanham: Scarecrow Press), by Joe Janes, associate professor and program chair at the University of Washington's Information School. Contributors were asked to finish the sentence "The Library in 2020 will be…" and to share their hopes, dreams, concerns, and ideas about how libraries go forward from here. They were told: "be bold, be inspirational, be hopeful, be true, be provocative, be realistic, be depressing, be light-hearted, be thoughtful, be fun…be yourself, and for heaven's sake, don’t be boring." Each submission was published as a separate chapter in the book.


Dennis Massie
Dennis Massie
Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections

This report presents strategies for providing efficient and affordable interlending of actual physical items from special collections for research purposes, as well as advice on determining if a loan is the most appropriate way to fulfill a particular request.

A complete list of OCLC Research publications is available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications.html.


OCLC Research Library Partnership welcomes University of California, Riverside
Mr. Steven Mandeville-Gamble, University Librarian, is the Partner Representative and has already encouraged many of his staff to join some of our e-mail and discussion lists—a great first step for getting involved!  More...
Walk This Way video highlights report that details steps for gaining control of born-digital content
Watch this video for an overview of the report, Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house.  More...
Findings from survey of special collections and archives in the UK and Ireland summarized in new video
Watch this video to learn about the findings from the OCLC Research and RLUK survey of special collections and archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland that were published in a report earlier this year.   More...
Tiers for Fears video gives overview of sensible, streamlined approach for sharing special collections
Watch this video for an overview of the tiers and tools described in the recently published Tiers for Fears report. More...
Explore cookbooks and more from libraries around the world with new Cookbook Finder app
New from OCLC Research, Cookbook Finder is an experimental, works-based application that provides access to thousands of cookbooks and other works about food and nutrition described in library records.  More...
OCLC Research Registering Researchers in Authority Files Task Group seeks feedback on work in progress
This task group has been analyzing the emerging approaches to incomplete national authority files and is seeking community comment and feedback on five of their work in progress documents that were recently posted online.  More...
Tufts University joins SHARES
Tufts was the 7th new library to join this international sharing partnership in calendar year 2013.  More...
OCLC Research Library Partnership welcomes Washington University in Saint Louis and Occidental College
We were pleased to welcome Washington University in Saint Louis and Occidental College to the OCLC Research Library Partnership!  More...
A complete list of OCLC Research news items is available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/news.html.

Events, Webcasts and Presentations

Roy Tennant presented opening keynote at Access 2013 in St. John's Newfoundland
Access 2013 is Canada's premier library technology conference bringing librarians, technicians, developers, programmers, and managers together to discuss cutting-edge library technologies.  More...
"Shifts in Scholarly Attention Among World Regions" presentation by Dr. Charles Kurzman
The webinar recording and slides are available from this presentation in which Dr. Kurzman discussed his research on changing academic attention to world regions over the past 50 years, “attention” as measured by analyzing works published about each region of the world and collected in U.S. academic libraries for each year of publication since 1958. The patterns that emerge from this research will help to inform social scientists and educational policymakers about trends and possible gaps in scholarly attention to different regions of the world.   More....
"Why Google? '…[Google] saved time, it saved gas, I got what I needed, and it wasn't a big deal.'" presentation by Lynn Silipigni Connaway
In this presentation, Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway discussed results of multiple user behavior studies and recommendations for promoting user engagement with library services, sources, and systems.  More....
OCLC Research Library Partnership SHARES 101 webinar
Exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners, this webinar provided an overview of how the international sharing partnership SHARES expands and enhances local collections with materials owned by OCLC Research Library Partners around the world.  More...
ArchiveGrid and Related Work webinar outputs available
This webinar provides an overview of ArchiveGrid, a collection of nearly two million archival material descriptions that is now freely available from OCLC Research, as well as related work.  More...
OCLC Research staff at ARCHIVES 2013 in New Orleans
Six OCLC Research staff gave presentations and demonstrations at ARCHIVES 2013: The Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists.  More...
Managing Research Data—from Goals to Reality webinar
Presented live exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners, this webinar provided examples of how colleagues are managing research data—the raw output of research investigations, not the resulting reports. The recording, slides, chat transcript and archived tweets from this webinar are now publicly available online.  More...
OCLC Research presentations at Best of Show 2013: An OCLC Virtual Conference
Five OCLC Research staff gave live encore presentations during this free online event.  More...
OCLC Research Library Partnership Past Forward event videos
A total of 16 videos are available from the OCLC Research Library Partnership event, “Past Forward! Meeting Stakeholder Needs in 21st Century Special Collections.” Links to the presenter's slides, archived tweets and speaker biographies are also available.  More...
A complete list of OCLC Research events is available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/events.html.

OCLC Researcher Spotlight—Brian Lavoie: From Cutter Tables to the Published Record 

Brian Lavoie

I started in OCLC Research in 1996 as a part-time research assistant, while working on my doctorate in agricultural economics. My first assignment was to compare and note differences between the original versions of the Cutter tables, and the later Swanson-Swift editions—by hand, line by line!1 I went on to join OCLC Research as a full-time staff member, and over the years have worked on projects touching on a wide range of topics, including the structure and content of the Web, digital preservation, collective collections, and the system-wide organization of library collections and services.

The diverse array of topics that cross my desk is one of the best parts of my job. On any given day I might be writing code for a data-mining project, developing a framework to help conceptualize an issue or problem space, or collaborating with researchers in other countries on a topic of mutual interest. I have even had opportunities to use my economics training on several projects. All along the way, I have benefited from working with an outstanding group of OCLC Research colleagues, who have taught me a great deal about doing research for libraries.

With my fellow OCLC researcher Constance Malpas, I have been exploring the topic of regional-scale shared print strategies. Our recent report (with our colleague JD Shipengrover) Print Management at “Mega-Scale”: A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America2 combined the concept of mega-regions with WorldCat data to examine the features of a North American network of regional shared print collections. We are also working on an analysis that examines cooperative print management from an institutional (Ohio State University) and consortial (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) perspective, which we will be publishing soon.

Occasionally, opportunities arise to work on topics that stretch the boundaries of library research. I recently completed a study which sought to identify and analyze the Scottish presence in the published record. To do this, I used WorldCat bibliographic data, as well as data from Wikipedia, to identify materials published in Scotland, by Scottish authors, or about Scotland. I then used WorldCat holdings data to trace the diffusion of these Scottish materials around the world.3 As Lorcan Dempsey (OCLC Vice President, Research, and Chief Strategist) has pointed out, the value of the WorldCat database, cooperatively produced by libraries all over the world, extends beyond its role as a key resource for libraries; it is also the best proxy available for the global published record. Our ability to do cultural research like the Scotland study extends from the data crafted by librarians and gathered into WorldCat.

1. The reader may be wondering whether this was a legitimate assignment, or if I was being put through some kind of new employee hazing ritual. It was indeed legitimate work: http://www.worldcat.org/title/four-figure-cutter-tables/oclc/54104849
2. http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/library/2012/2012-05.pdf
3. http://www.oclc.org/research/news/2013/09-17.html

Brian Lavoie is a Research Scientist in OCLC Research.