In April I attended the spring conference for the New England Technical Services Librarian organization at Holy Cross. The theme was Crosswalks to the future: Library metadata on the move.
I listened to 4 speakers, and by chance sat next to a iii marketing rep. (Sandy Hurd) for breakfast and lunch, and it was a fairly interesting.
The opening keynote speaker was Barbara Tillett, Chief of the Policy and Standards Division at the Library of Congress. Among her many credentials is representing LC on the Joint Steering Committee for RDA development, working with IFLA towards creation of the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles, and helping develop the FRBR conceptual model and its extension, FRAD. As you can see from her presentation, she’s been focused recently on developing controlled vocabularies for the semantic web. She elaborated on:
Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) with an aim toward simplifying and facilitating sharing of authority data; currently it’s focused on personal names, but corporate names, uniform titles, and geographic names are scheduled to be added.
Next was a discussion of Simplified Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) and how LC has been using SKOS, which is based on the RDF framework and can be used to “Provides a model for expressing the basic structure and content of concept schemes such as thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies, folksonomies, and other similar types of controlled vocabulary”—SKOS Primer. There are examples of how it’s being used in the presentation.
Then she spent some time discussing the impending June release of the RDA Toolkit and the implications of the coming testing and evaluation phases by national libraries of RDA, the results of which should be made public in March of 2011.
My first small-group session was basically about how catalogers will still have work to do even if it isn’t the same type of work we’ve been doing in the past. We’ll still need to be involved with merging disparate frameworks and linking data to greater effect–basically that we’ll need to be extending and adding to our traditional responsibilities. View the presentation here. The speakers were Martha Rice Sanders, the Knowledge management librarian at the HELIN Consortium in Rhode Island, and Mark Caprio, Digital services and cataloging librarian at the Phillips Memorial Library in Providence.
The second session I attended was on SkyRiver. SkyRiver was co-created by the founder of iii, Jerry Kline, as a full-service bibliographic utility (to compete with OCLC). SkyRiver president Leslie Straus presented a talk about SkyRiver–how it works currently and what’s planned for future development.
All bibliographic records in SkyRiver are in the public domain. The user interface is simple and takes a very short amount of time to learn & navigate (it’s a Java client). Currently there are 25 million bib records and authority files based on LC in the database (sounds like a lot but not yet comparable to OCLC’s 150 million). Record matching algorithms are used to identify records, and they are constantly adjusted to improve accuracy. Holdings are automatically added and deleted, and there is Windows 7 support. Essentially if a record isn’t in the database a form is filled out and a response is given within 48 hours (they use federated searches over multiple public domain sources to get their records). The biggest conceptual adjustment I think from a cataloger’s point of view is that catalogers currently don’t edit and update master records directly in the SkyRiver database, but if enhancements are made they are automatically sent back up to the system to be vetted and confirm that the changes meet enhancement criteria–and THEN the master record is updated. It sounds like institutions have direct control over their own holdings but not the records themselves.
SkyRiver has enabled full Worldcat Cataloging Partners (Promptcat) integration with materials vendors for record & spine label supply-shelf ready service. The business model is a flat rate subscription with unlimited downloads and access (no per-search or per-session fees). Leslie briefly touched on the recent and much blogged-about controversy (see, e.g. this article in LJ) concerning MSU and CalState which has resulted in them not loading newest holdings into ILL, and said she is certain that it is a temporary compromise and that the situation will improve with time.
My notes get a little spotty here, but there were questions about batch loading, keystroke compatibility, and constant data… Mac OS support is almost there, there is currently Z39.50 access for SkyRiver subscribers, batch searching is fully functional, for non-Roman scripts, paired fields are stored but indexing is still a work in process and 880s do not currently appear with paired tags. SkyRiver is in discussion with PCC/NACO to collaborate and implement enhancement controls. RDA & SkyRiver–SkyRiver plans to work with users to test out the toolkit.
When asked “why the name SkyRiver” Leslie explained they’ve come to the conclusion that it signifies “Free-flowing data in the cloud”.
I have some info. cards in case you’re interested in seeing them, and the New England SkyRiver rep. is Jamie Kline.
The afternoon keynote speaker was Jon Orwant, Engineering Manager of Google Books, Magazines, and Patents. He spoke about Google’s efforts to provide better access to the content across the many sources of metadata which Google ingests. His presentation isn’t available online and unfortunately since it was the end of the day my notes aren’t great, but he showed us examples of how Google has tried to manipulate data to make it more accurate and usable, and efforts that have been made to improve searching across all the Google ‘corpora’ i.e. books, images, etc. He even threw in a slide or two with some Google source code (which solicited a few oohs and ahhs).
To see some of the other presentations from sessions I didn’t attend visit this page. I know I left out a lot of details so please let me know if you have any questions and I will try my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!
The plot thickens. SkyRiver and III file an antitrust lawsuit against OCLC alleging anticompetitive practices.