Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I've not written here in ages. But today at work we had a great moment: we shipped out our first big collection, the Andrew Smith Gallery archives. It was the first collection we brought into our new space and now it is the first big collection out. 14 pallets of boxes coming in; 12 pallets of boxes, and several other containers going out.

The space, the stuff, and the staff: this is what makes the Beinecke Technical Services operation at 344 Winchester the wonder that it is.

There were 466 boxes on those pallets. The represent a large chunk (the rest went in bins) of the Andrew Smith Gallery records, a collection of business records from an important dealer in photography of the American West. We moved it here from the LSF Processing Space on 14 pallets soon after we moved in, and in the space of two and a half months the accessioning team processed 710 boxes. An impressive feat. It shows what we are able to achieve in our new space.

Below is a photo of the forklift coming into the same hallway as above. Nice to be able to drive the lift between this hallway and the loading dock.
This made moving twelve pallets to the loading dock and onto trucks bound for the Library Shelving Facility much easier. This instead of  pushing freezer carts across the Beinecke Plaza.

I congratulate and celebrate Mike Rush, Tina Evans, Leigh Golden, Jim Fisher, Jenn Garcia, Karen Nangle, and several student workers.

Thank you to all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SAA 2012--my first archivists' conference

Between August 6 and 11 I attended the SAA 2012 conference in San Diego. It was a great meeting. About 1600 archivists were there. The plenary sessions were great, and the panel sessions I went to were mostly very good. There were lightning talks and short reports on research in progress. Socially, the group is very friendly, and I'm lucky to have many archivist colleagues at Yale who were also at the meeting. About a dozen of us from Yale attended. So that helped--I had a built-in network. For me the big theme was linked open data. Jon Voss was the keynoter. His topic was "Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web.” He was great. But the best program panel I attended was that on the value of digital forensics to archivists. That was done by Christopher (Cal) Lee (Chair); Matthew Kirschenbaum; Kam Woods, Courtney C. Mumma, and Jeremy Leighton John. I went to several presentations put on by colleagues or friends, and I got to spend a lot of time with a few new and a few old friends Very nice. I did have one late night in a karaoke bar ...

Monday, August 13, 2012

update after long break -- new job

I have not posted anything to this blog in almost a year. Much has changed. I'm still at Yale University Library, but I am now working at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I am the Head of Technical Services there. I started on February 6, 2012. I'll work on keeping this more current. We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The LC Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative plan

The Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative plan is available at:

The plan itself is a 10 p. PDF

Bibliographic framework is intended to indicate an environment rather than a "format".

Key points

-Broad accommodation of content rules and data models. The new environment should be agnostic to cataloging rules, in recognition that different rules are used by different communities, for different aspects of a description, and for descriptions created in different eras, and that some metadata are not rule based.

-Provision for types of data that logically accompany or support bibliographic description, such as holdings, authority, classification, preservation, technical, rights, and archival metadata.

-Accommodation of textual data, linked data with URIs instead of text, and both.

-Consideration of the relationships between and recommendations for communications format tagging, record input conventions, and system storage/manipulation.

-Consideration of the needs of all sizes and types of libraries, from small public to large research.

-Continuation of maintenance of MARC until no longer necessary. It is recognized that systems and services based on the MARC 21 communications record will be an important part of the infrastructure for many years.

-Compatibility with MARC-based records.

-Provision of transformation from MARC 21 to a new bibliographic environment.

The new bibliographic framework project will be focused on the Web environment, Linked Data principles and mechanisms, and the Resource Description Framework (RDF) as a basic data model. The protocols and ideas behind Linked Data are natural exchange mechanisms for the Web that have found substantial resonance even beyond the cultural heritage sector. Likewise, it is expected that the use of RDF and other W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) developments will enable the integration of library data and other cultural heritage data on the Web for more expansive user access to information.

You all may also want to look at the report from Stanford on Linked Data at

Published in October 2011, the report was compiled by Michael A. Keller, Jerry Persons, Hugh Glaser, and Mimi Calter. (60 pages, PDF)

The preliminary project timetable
The Library of Congress will develop a grant application in the next few months. The two-year grant will provide funding for the Library of Congress to organize consultative groups (national and international) and to support development and prototyping activities. Work to be done, then, more or less in 2012 and 2013 includes: developing models and scenarios for interaction within the information community, assembling and reviewing ontologies currently used or under development, developing domain ontologies for the description of resources and related data in scope, organizing prototypes and reference implementations.

Additional LC bibliographic framework transition links

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Website

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Listserv

Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Website

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Report of the Stanford Linked Data Workshop, 27 June – 1 July 2011 (published October 2011)

The Report of the Stanford Linked Data Workshop, 27 June – 1 July 2011 was published in October 2011. The report was compiled by Michael A. Keller, Jerry Persons, Hugh Glaser, and Mimi Calter. (60 pages, PDF)

The Stanford University Libraries (SULAIR) and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) had a week-long workshop on the prospects for a large scale, multi-national, multi-institutional prototype of a Linked Data environment for discovery and navigation of academic information resources. The report summarizes the workshop, charts the use of Linked Data in cultural heritage venues, and has short biographies and statements from each of the participants.

The accompanying survey is available at

With the assistance of other participants, the Stanford team will generate a model for a multi-national, multi-institutional discovery environment built on Linked Open Data demonstrating to end users, our communities of researchers the value of the Linked Data approach.

From the conclusion:
"Given the proliferation of URIs, whether RDF triples or more, from numerous sources it seems plausible to attempt to model and then construct a discovery and navigation environment for research purposes based on the open stores of RDFs becoming available. To many of us, this seems a logical next step to the vision of the hypertext/media functions in a globally networked world of Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, and Douglas Englebart. It is highly significant to us as well that Tim Berners-Lee, responsible for the launch of the World Wide Web, has led this line of thought through his publications and presentations and those of his colleagues at the University of Southampton, Wendy Hall and Nigel Shadbolt."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Final Report PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group September 2011 (78 p.) PDF

The _Final Report_ of the PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group (September 2011) has been posted online. 78 pages. PDF.

"The MARC21 community needs to transition to an environment where nearly all records created omit ISBD punctuation.

As an initial step in such a transition, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging called for the establishment of a task group to further investigate these issues. The PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group was established in March 2011 and was charged with the following: investigate the omission of ISBD punctuation from the cataloging process in favor of having cataloging interfaces generate punctuation needed for display; perform a field-by-field analysis of MARC to identify instances of embedded ISBD punctuation; and, identify the use of any non-ISBD punctuation present in fields."

The report is really well-done. Robert Bremer, OCLC, chaired the group.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thinking about how to use the Open Metadata Registry and HIVE to create vocabulary services for Yale's Cross Collection Discovery tool (CCD) and Yale's metadata workflow router and metadata editor, Ladybird

After talking today with Daniel Lovins (Emerging Technology Librarian at Yale), I have begun thinking about how to use the Open Metadata Registry and HIVE to create vocabulary services for Yale's Cross Collection Discovery tool (CCD) and Yale's Ladybird, a metadata editor/router. I have a long way to go, but Daniel has gotten me started on what should be a promising path for me and for Yale library. Thanks, Daniel.

The Metadata Registry provides services to developers and consumers of controlled vocabularies and is one of the first production deployments of the RDF-based Semantic Web Community's Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS).

HIVE is an automatic metadata generation approach that dynamically integrates discipline-specific controlled vocabularies encoded with the Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS). HIVE assists content creators and information professionals with subject cataloging and provides a solution to the traditional controlled vocabulary problems of cost, interoperability, and usability.

Yale's Cross Collection Discovery (CCD) provides a way to search across Yale's collections of art, natural history, books, and maps, as well as photos, audio, and video documenting people, places, and events that form part of Yale's institutional identity and contribution to scholarship.

Yale's Ladybird is a staff tool that manages the workflow and routing of digitized materials (and associated metadata) to a DAM system and to the Web. In order to perform these tasks, the interface is used to create or edit a metadata record for the digital representation of the asset.

COMET (Cambridge Open METadata) project completed July 2011

COMET (Cambridge Open METadata) project was completed this July 2011.

The COMET blog final post sums up the work done, the lessons learned, and indicates some next steps.

The CUL open data service is worth a look. (It is funded under the JISC Infrastructure for Resource Discovery program.)

I was particularly interested in the document on the ownership of MARC21 records by Hugh Taylor, Head of Collection Description and Development at Cambridge University Library. It is nice brief on the issues of intellectual property law and contracts and licences as they relate to MARC21 records in library catalogs. Hugh is very good on "reading the ownership of MARC 21 bibliographic records." The whole project is nicely documented at the COMET project blog.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Restoring the Sterling Memorial Library nave at Yale

Yale is beginning a project to restore the nave of the Sterling Memorial Library. Our new UL, Susan Gibbons, asked staff to share their ideas about how to restore the nave. Here is my idea.

I'll start with the past. The nave originally held the public card catalog. Because of that and because Yale's scholarly information collections were much of that time primarily paper-based and held mostly in Sterling Memorial Library, the nave/catalog was _the_ portal to Yale's collections. One had to use the catalog and the nave to use the library and one had to use the library because that was where the knowledge was stored. Staff and users stood side by side in the nave at the catalog--creating it, maintaining it, and using it. The nave was vital to the life of the mind at Yale, and it was a vital center of the community life of scholars at Yale. That era is gone and now the nave is empty. I refer to it among friends as the "Dead Zone." The soul of the nave has fled. Only the shell of it remains.

Let's turn to the future. We can only restore the nave by breathing a new soul into the space. Reverence for what was will not restore the nave. Nostalgia won't either. How do we breathe new life into that space?

The nave was alive when it was full of scholars (undergrads and up) and librarians using the great collections at Yale to advance their knowledge. We can restore the nave to life by bringing back purposeful scholars and librarians (not attract tourists). The restored nave must become again a tool for discovery and use of knowledge, a portal into a great scholarly workshop.

The nave (and such other spaces as the periodical, newspaper, L and B, and main reading rooms) must combine desirable spaces with available tools--digital and analog--in such a way as to become a sharable, collaborative workspace. It can't just be a bank of computers, or a coffee shop, or a classroom, or a study hall, or a co-working space--though it may need something of each of those; it must be a space for labor-intensive interactions among scholars, librarians, archivists, IT specialists, etc., and the collections--digital and analog. The key to the success of such a scholars' workshop is a mix of vision/conceptualization, tools (not just banks of computers), and, most importantly, skilled staff that generates a vibrant scholars' workshop.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is a Bookless Library Still a Library?

Time magazine has an article by that title written by Tim Newcomb, dateline July 11, 2011. It's main topic is Drexel's new library--built for a bookless library. Newcomb quotes Danuta Nictecki, formerly at Yale library.

But I write about it here mainly for the question the article asks in its title but doesn't begin to answer. Is a Bookless Library Still a Library?
How we answer it has important consequences for those served by libraries.

It isn't a simple question at all. The difficulty is first in the confusion between books as objects and what those objects carry. The Drexel library still has book content and journal content and etc.; it doesn't have that content in the familar codex format we call books; it still has the content of the books and journals and etc., but it has it in digital, online formats. Libraries without books are like banks without gold deposits in vaults or without paper currency or coins. A bank isn't a bank because it has money in one particular format; it's a bank because it provides services related to our use of money. We still call them banks--even though we don't have to walk into them anymore to use them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group DRAFT REPORT

The W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group has issued a draft report for commentary. Linked library data is an opportunity to bring library concepts and practices to the Web in ways that transcend any individual library and its individual limitations.

I quote here one line from the benefits section. "The Linked Data approach offers significant advantages over current practices for creating and delivering library data while providing a natural extension to the collaborative sharing models historically employed by libraries, archives, and museums ("memory institutions")." And one more from the benefits to "memory institutions." "By using Linked Data, memory institutions will create an open, global pool of shared data that can be used and re-used to describe resources, with a limited amount of redundant effort compared with current cataloguing processes." Cheaper, faster, better.

From a cataloger's viewpoint, library linked data is the ultimate cooperative cataloging environment and the ultimate user services environment.

The report
includes these sections:

Vocabularies and Datasets
Relevant Technologies
Implementation challenges

Two related parts are:

Use Cases, a survey report describing existing projects

Vocabularies and Datasets, a survey report

The LLD XG invite comments from interested members of the public.

Feedback can sent as comments to individual sections posted on the dedicated blog at or by email to the public mailing list (, archived at ) using descriptive subject lines such as '[COMMENTS] "Benefits" section.'

Comments are especially welcome in the next four weeks (through 22 July). Reviewers should note that as with Wikipedia, the text may be revised and corrected by its editors in response to comments at any time, but that earlier versions of a document may be viewed by clicking on the History tab.

It is anticipated that the three reports will be published in final form by 31 August.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RDA is a go (conditionally)

The Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, and the National Library of Medicine have issued an executive summary statement from their Executives on the Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee on the implementation of RDA—Resource Description & Access at

The cover statement by the executives of LC, NAL, and NLM is available at:

The official statement is:

“We endorse the report, with the conditions articulated by the committee. Even though there are many in the library community who would like to see a single “yes” or “no” response to the question should we implement RDA, the reality is that any standard is complicated and will take time to develop. We also recognize that the library world cannot operate in a vacuum. The entire bibliographic framework will have to change along the lines recommended in the report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. The implementation of RDA is one important piece, but there are many others that must be dealt with simultaneously. We especially note the need to address the question of the MARC standard, suggested by many of the participants in the RDA test. As part of addressing the conditions identified, LC will have a small number of staff members who participated in the test resume applying RDA in the interim. This will allow LC to prepare for training, documentation, and other preparatory tasks related to the further development and implementation of RDA.

The conditions identified by the Test Coordinating Committee must be addressed immediately, and we believe that the Committee should continue in an oversight role to ensure that the conditions are met. We have discussed the Committee’s recommendations with the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. We will continue to work closely with the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control to think about the overall direction of bibliographic control and the changes that are necessary to assure that libraries are in the best position to deliver twenty-first century services to users.

We believe that the long-term benefits of adopting RDA will be worth the short-term anxieties and costs. The Test Coordinating Committee quite rightly noted the economic and organizational realities that cause every librarian to ask if this is the time to make a dramatic change in cataloging. Our collective answer is that libraries must create linkages to all other information resources in this Web environment. We must begin now. Indefinite delay in implementation simply means a delay in our effective relationships with the broader information community.”