I’ve just had an article published in UKSG Insights, based in part on a presentation I gave at the RLUK conference last year. Like that presentation (and in fact most of my presentations) its a loose collection of possibly great, possibly silly ideas strung together by a vague common thread:
The United Kingdom boasts union catalogues for its major research libraries, journal holdings, archives and, most recently, for its public library collections. For researchers wanting to locate material across the UK, such aggregations have long served as a first stop for researchers wanting to find the right material and also provided a showcase for our formidable research collections.
In the global networked environment, search engines and social networks can fulfil much of the functionality of union catalogues and have become the natural places to which our users go for search and discovery, even in academic situations.
Right now, there is a ‘disconnect’ between the data describing our collections and the places users first turn to start their searches. This can be fixed by exposing descriptive data to wider audiences beyond the silo of the local catalogue, but data publishing is a fast moving area with little obvious short-term institutional-level gain and some start-up barriers.
Publishing library data to the open web at the level of a national aggregation would utilize existing skill sets and infrastructure, minimize risk and maximize impact.
Its available on the Insights website.
In a similar vein, its great to see WorldCat now supporting content negotiation as well as the emerging schema.org micro-data formats. For the first time, a large library catalogue can be interpreted by a machine in a more intelligent fashion than crawling and scraping text.