Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More linked data

A couple weeks ago I blogged on how cool linked data is for re-use in Web sites and apps. Well one of my colleagues at OCLC has come out with another linked data service worth checking out. It is based on VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) and can help you find people's names as they are rendered in other languages. But rather than explain it all I'll just let you read Thom's explanation here.

Registrations now open for November events

We've got some great events lined up for November, that registrations have just opened up for. Here are two that have recently crossed (or emanated from) my desk:

WorldCat Mashathon Seattle
Odegaard Undergraduate Library in Seattle, Washington
Thursday-Friday, November 5-6, 2009
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
University of Washington

Join fellow developers for the next two-day WorldCat Mashathon. The Seattle Mashathon will follow the same format as previous events in Amsterdam and New York. Participants will spend the two days brainstorming and coding mash-ups with Web services to take advantage of all that WorldCat, the world’s largest and most comprehensive bibliographic database, has to offer. Developers from the library community and beyond are encouraged to attend.

Why attend the WorldCat Mashathon?

*Brainstorm potential apps for the WorldCat Search API, our bibliographic grouping services and other OCLC Web services.
*Get a preview of the new WorldCat Basic API.
*Gain development access to 1.4 billion items from more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.
*Integrate these resources with many others to create innovative new services.
*Meet fellow developers across the information industry.
*Share your creative vision and be a part of the next wave of online library development.

Register now
for the Mashathon

OCLC Digital Forum East
: Convergence: Where Metadata and Access Meet for Digital Discovery and Delivery
Arlington Public Library in Arlington, Virginia
Thursday, November 5, 2009
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Arlington Public Library, Central Library

For the first time, OCLC will bring this popular event to the East Coast. Experts from the museum, archival and library communities will discuss current projects and initiatives that explore metadata creation for digital discovery and delivery. Among the distinguished speakers are:

*Dr. Youngok Choi, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, The Catholic University of America
*Susan Chun, Principal, Cultural Heritage Consulting; Founder and Project Lead at Steve.Museum
*Dr. Jennifer Goldbeck, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
*Taylor Surface, Director, Digital Content Management Services, OCLC
*Kate Thiemer, author of ArchivesNext blog, creator and manager of the "Best Archives on the Web," "Movers and Shakers in Archives" awards, as well as the "Archives 2.0" wiki

The Forum is designed to offer an intimate meeting setting where participants can share knowledge and create networks with other organizations. Join us for some small group discussion and networking with your peers. This is an ideal educational opportunity for librarians, archivists and museum staff who are charged with creating digital access to collections.

Register now for the Digital Forum East


I saw all the tweets coming through about Digital Forum West--so East will not disappoint, I am sure. And what can I say about the Mashathon? I am totally biased, but it's a great way to immerse yourself with structured data and imagine what cool things you can do with it, for two days.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why linked data is cool

I recently spent 30 minutes with one of my colleagues, Michael Panzer, learning about the joys of linked data and why it is so cool. He has created a linked data proto-type for Dewey ( ) that is now publicly available for re-use. Michael told me the three rules for linked data which I’ll roughly paraphrase as:

1. Use URIs for everything
2. Every URI gives a useful description of the object
3. In the description provide more links to other useful stuff

I must say I got pretty excited from my layman’s low level technical view of the mashability of this type of data service. If like me you are new to linked data I would explain it simply as:

· You have a data element that is unambiguous, such as Dewey number 641 and you know this number is indeed a Dewey classification number.
· You know the site where someone has created a linked data service that will give you additional information about that number
· You can now programmatically create the URL from your piece of data that will retrieve additional information about the data object which you can re-use in your own service.

Here is one example of a URL for Dewey 641: The 641 was data in your system and the rest of the URL was created by your program.

Note that this actually returns you what both 640 and 641 are classifications for: Home & family management and Food & drink respectively. But what is even nicer is it returns that information in nine languages appropriately tagged so you can re-use it in any of those languages. Another nice feature is while the machine sees the raw data a human can see HTML.

Pretty nifty service for easily beefing up your own data with further information. Michael has also blogged about this new service at:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Keeping Your Head...

Today George and I presented "Keeping Your Head While Serving the Community" at the Association for Small and Rural Libraries Conference in Gatlinburg, TN. Play our slides if you'd like, though they may lose some context without the audio.

This conference has been a big boost for my spirits. I've been serving on the ARSL board since February as an ex-officio member from WebJunction, and even that didn't prepare me for this wonderful conference. I learned that Kansas librarians arrived by bus, having driven the 16 hours to Gatlinburg from their home state (I'm sure some of them traveled longer). Further, I have to say, Kansas really represented the social networking scene by being the biggest contributors to the #ARSL2009 hash tag! I forgot to add the tag most of the time I was there, so, that was sort of lame of me, but Go Kansas!

It was also really good for me to have the opportunity to present with George; an honor. I think it's fair to say that I was a little bit slammed with work-related things before this conference and so I didn't have the time to collaborate as much as I would have liked before the presentation. But I thought our content went together very well and I really enjoyed doing the presentation overall. If you by chance saw us, please tell me what you thought of our talk (a dose of my own "evaluation" medicine, so to speak ... so that I too can iterate!).

My favorite presentation of the day introduced me to Give Em the Pickle a customer service slogan from Mr. Farrell (of Farrell's restaurants -- it may look totally cheesy, but this guy is hilarous and has great advice for serving our patrons well). My favorite interactive session of the day was from the State Library of North Carolina on "getting your community back to work". I have more to say about that, but it will have to wait for another day...

Finally, I had amazing conversations with colleagues all weekend either working in small and rural libraries, or working in state libraries to support small and rural libraries. It has been too long since I've been out and about. Cindi Hickey, thank you for giving me the encouragement I needed about the presentation! I tell ya, it really helps me to remember why we do the things we do back at the office.