This year’s ALA Annual meeting marked my first visit to the very hot, colorful, and sensory-overloaded city of Las Vegas. After arriving Friday afternoon, I headed to the Las Vegas Hotel to attend an OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) meeting to hear about the upcoming publication of best practices for DVD-Blu ray cataloging. While I have yet to catalog many Blu-ray discs, I know this information will come in handy the next time I do so. Afterwards, I met up with Hu at the convention center to hear Jane McGonigal, game designer and opening keynote speaker, talk about the power and positive aspects of games/gaming. I am really excited about the prospect of working with Hu in hosting McGonigal’s game creation, “Find the Future”, at ZSR. Following the talk, Hu and I attended the ANSS social at Tamba Indian Cuisine.

On Saturday, I attended a session on international developments in library linked data that featured a panel of 3 speakers: Richard Wallis, Technology Evangelist at OCLC; Jodi Schneider of the Centre de Recherche, and Neil Wilson, Head of Collection Metadata at the British Library. Linked data is a popular conference topic and one that I need to study more in depth. Per, Mr. Wallis discussed the importance of using structured data on the web using markup as seen on tries to infer meaning from strings of data. In April 2014, WorldCat Entities was released. It is a database of 197+ million linked Work descriptions (i.e. a high-level description of a resource that contains information such as author, name, descriptions, subjects, etc., common to all editions of a work) and URIs (uniform resource identifier). Linked data:

  • takes one across the web and is navigated by a graph of knowledge
  • is standard on the web
  • identifies and links resources on the web
  • is a technology (i.e. entity based data architecture powered by linked data).

Wallis used the phrase “syndication of libraries.” Unlike the web, libraries don’t want to sell stuff, we want people to use our stuff. Libraries’ information is aggregated to a central site (e.g. National Library, consortia, WorldCat) and the details are then published to syndicate partners (e.g. Google). Syndication moves to linking users back directly to libraries. Individual libraries publish resource data. Utilizing linked data from authoritative hubs (e.g. Library of Congress, WorldCat Works, VIAF) in our records assists in the discovery of these resources as it makes them recognizable and identifiable on the web. Users will then be referred to available library resources.

What can libraries/librarians do in the area of linked data?

  1. Contribute to WorldCat.
  2. Apply across one’s library’s web site.
  3. Select systems that will link to entities on the web. We are “on the cusp of a wave”, says Wallis.
  4. Add URIs to cataloging records. The web will aggregate like information.

Jodi Schneider’s talk focused on linked data developments from Europe (i.e. Belgium, Norway, Ireland and France). The British Library’s Neil Wilson stated that better web integration of library resources increases a libraries’ visibility to new groups which can bring about wider utility and relevance libraries. During the Q&A, an individual posed a question about the stability of URIs, a topic that has come up in a recent ZSR discussion of which I was a part. The panel responded that URI stability depends upon who’s publishing them. An organization does saddle itself with the responsibility of making sure that URIs are persistent. It’s up to the reputation of organizations creating URIs to make sure they remain persistent. Libraries can add authority to URIs. One needs to realize that some outlying sources may go away, and for this very reason, preservation of linked data is becoming an emerging issue.

In addition to the session on linked data, I attended the following sessions:

  • becoming a community-engaged academic library which was co-sponsored by ANSS and EBSS
  • meeting of the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee which I will be chairing 2014-2015
  • consulting and collaborating with faculty, staff, and students about metadata used in Digital Humanities projects
  • e-book backlogs
  • anthropology librarians discussion group
  • “Quiet Strengths of Introverts”

All in all, it was a great conference. I went to a couple of vendor parties, visited the Hoover Dam in 119 degree heat, and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Oscar’s with my coworkers, but I was very eager to get back home and in a quiet environment.