As promised, here is the link to the LOD-LAM participants group http://lod-lam.net/summit/participants/ . Each of the attendees has a brief biography, including yours truly. I’m even more pleased. Congratulations to the organizers for putting the “international” into International Linked Data summit… The detailed raw data list shows from where everybody hails. It’s heavy on English speaking countries, esp. the U.S. It’s not surprising that the bulk of attendees are North American given the cost of flying over the oceans. It’s great that so many people are there representing speakers of other languages.
Off now to review some authority records. I have a rare day sans meetings which means I get to get a lot of work-work (vs. work about work) done.
LOL. Andy Powell over at eFoundations gave me a good chuckle this a.m. by referring to structured data which could become linked data as “limp data.” Andy, prepare yourself to be quoted more often in linked data presentations. Speaking of linked data, the LOD-LAM summit participant list will be posted today on the web site. I’m keen to see who I’ll be meeting and what projects they’re working on.
I have a confession to make. I have a lot to learn about making linked data available. It’s slightly embarrassing given my ardent desire to do a linked data project here. I get how it works in theory (and please teach me if my take on the gist of it is wrong.) Put your metadata into triple stores with URIs . Expose it. Layer a useful interface over-top. I get dazed and confused with the application. I’m fuzzy re: the difference between the semantic web writ large and linked data. Especially when documentation uses comp sci jargon like, “serializing data.” What a way to scare off the normals. (BTW, Wikipedia has a somewhat understandable explanation). I took a relational database design class in library school but I wasn’t exposed to the interplay between internet communication protocols and the contents of database tables. To be fair, I took the class back in the Internet dark ages (1995, in case you’re counting). At that time the web was a place of flat documents. Fewer people were thinking about web protocols as a mechanism for interlinking databases. My dated knowledge means I get a bit flummoxed when I contemplate doing anything more complicated than putting RDFa into my static web pages.
What I struggle with is figuring out the level of technical proficiency a metadata librarian needs to attain in order to play in the semantic web sandbox. The line between metadata librarian and coder gets blurry. Libraries, archives, museums have “limp data.” They may or may not have a database guru. They may or may not have funds. So librarians/archivists/museum curators need to DIY if they are to get their data from limp to linked. Or at least understand how it all works under the hood so they can delegate or outsource the implementation (and write grant applications to underwrite it). I learn best when I dive in and get my hands dirty so I applied to the LOD-LAM summit. It’s forcing me to figure out a do-able project, bone up on my tech skills, and put some of our data out there. I’m hoping that I can somehow translate the experience into librarian-speak so I can help other institutions expose their unique content. I need to be honest about my ignorance, however. I’m sucking up the slight self-conscious discomfort and starting where I am.
When I was a newbie manager I experimented with more regular staff meetings for the people in the Metadata Services Group. I wanted to incorporate shared learning and group discussion into our meetings to make training more fun and relevant. So I added metadata videos to our Monday morning agenda. I would bring homemade vegan muffins to encourage attendance and participation since we met early and it was Monday after all (pix available via Flickr!). We called it the 4M: Monday morning metadata movies & muffins. You can pronounce that Mmmm.
We eventually abandoned that experiment. Folks liked the videos, but wanted to watch them on their own time. Since then, my periodic sharing of links for metadata-related videos with the folks on my team has dwindled. I was reminded of this practice when a dear friend recently asked me for the links to the videos. I was also reminded of this when Mod Librarian started posting a Metadata Monday series on her blog. Great minds and all that. I’ve finally managed to post the link to the YouTube play list for the late-lamented (at least by me) experiment. Drum roll please…for your viewing pleasure:
The 4M: Monday Morning Metadata Movies play list.
Caveat: the movies we watched were not always strictly about metadata, but they were on topics relevant to metadata management within academic libraries. They were intended for an audience of paraprofessionals & professionals. And sometimes they were more fun than educational.
Some past 4M videos which weren’t on the YouTube play list:
I’m inspired now to resume my quest for videos relevant to metadata workers in academic libraries. Perhaps I’ll even post them each Monday. Or at least on some Mondays. And I don’t promise to bake vegan muffins on Sunday nights.
I spent a fun day at the regional OCLC Good Practices, Great Outcomes event yesterday, where I was an invited speaker. It’s always a treat to hear Roy Tennant give a keynote. I was very impressed with the efficiencies Helen Heinrich implemented at CSU Northridge and the big dent Sharon Benamou made in the cataloging back log at UCLA. Holly Tomren did a fabulous job summing up the major themes which emerged. Video and slides from the event will be made available on OCLC web site soon. I promise to share the links. Meanwhile, I’ve put my slides up on slideshare.
It was great to give a talk again. I haven’t presented professionally in several years. I used to do it frequently but fell out of the habit when I switched career streams from public to technical services. Partially it was due to lack of time. I was busy learning the intricacies of MARC and volunteering my time on CC:DA during the development of RDA. Partially it was due to major illness. I spent a good chunk of 2009 on medical leave. And partially it was due to self-doubt. As a new metadata maven I wanted to have something useful to discuss before I began speaking about my work.
The best part of doing the talk was figuring out those things we’re doing at Caltech which may be useful for other tech services librarians. Reflecting back on my four years here, I realize we’ve accomplished a great deal.
- We’re adding more bibliographic records to our ILS despite a reduction in staff — on order of 10’s of thousands more. That’s the beauty of batch loading and purchasing record sets.
- We’re more efficient at our batch loading because we’ve tapped into regular expressions (shout out to Terry Reese. MarcEdit has been the major player in making us more efficient.
- We’ve learned how to apply business process analysis techniques to review our work flows and improve them, freeing up time for for training and developing next generation metadata services.
I have to give credit where credit is due. The Metadata Services Group team has really stepped up to the plate and wholeheartedly embraced the changes we’ve made. I’m so proud of them. It was easier for me to stand up and talk to a hundred or so people because I could share their success.
I’m stoked. I’ve been accepted to the International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums Summit. From the about page, the summit: will convene leaders in their respective areas of expertise from the humanities and sciences to catalyze practical, actionable approaches to publishing Linked Open Data, specifically:
- Identify the tools and techniques for publishing and working with Linked Open Data
- Draft precedents and policy for licensing and copyright considerations regarding the publishing of library, archive, and museum metadata
- Publish definitions and promote use cases that will give LAM staff the tools they need to advocate for Linked Open Data in their institutions
It’s exciting because of its potential to spark real progress for library linked data. I’m keen to be involved with projects where I can get my hands dirty. I’m pretty much done with librarian conferences like ALA. IMHO, ALA is an echo chamber of how-we-done-it-good presentations and yet-another-survey research. I went to an ERM presentation at the mid-winter meeting and heard a speaker discuss work flows that I’ve seen implemented in libraries for the past 13 years. Seriously. ALA is good for networking with fellow librarians to be sure but it isn’t the place to get bleeding edge information. I’m ready to give my time and effort to breaking new ground. I’m very fortunate that my boss is incredibly supportive of my LOD-LAM participation.
We want to do a linked data project with author identifiers for our faculty. We’re a small institution. We’ve got roughly 300 current faculty members which is a small enough number for us to create a complete set of records within a reasonable amount of time. Our goal is to contribute our metadata to the commons and to share our experience as a use case. I’m quite honored to be invited. I’ve been following the work of some members of the organizing committee for years and I’m very much looking forward to finally meeting them.