Top take-aways from Code4lib 2009

By reeset / On / In code4lib09

This is a very abbreviated list that I’ll expand with a longer, more formal report, but this years code4lib left me with a few specific take-aways:

  1. I need to spend some more serious time considering how Linked Data projects currently being developed could impact my library.  I followed peripherally the work that Ed Summers did with before it was taken down, but with more players (including LC) formally moving into this space, I think that the ability to build linkages to data on the web is going to get a whole lot easier.
  2. I want something like Brown’s Dashboard imitative at my library.  The ability to track statistically information about our library services and serve it a way that it could be used by decision makers at all levels is very attractive.
  3. I’m going to be setting up a djatoka server when I get back to OSU.  djatoka is an open source JPEG2000 server created by the folks at Los Alamos Labs that certainly looks robust and easy to use – and dove tails nicely into a project that I’m personally interested in spending more time on at OSU.  Recently, OSU jointed Flickr commons and has started to release images to the collections.  In Flickr, these images are seeing in a week about the same usage as we see in a year for collections in CONTENTdm.  So, it makes me wonder if CONTENTdm, though a fine platform, is the most efficient way of making our image collections available – especially given that many of the archival functions could be accomplished using something like DSpace, our IR software. 
  4. I’m still not a believer in the OLE project (and to some degree, the XC project – though that seems to have more legs to me since they are farther along).  I know that I just came from an open source/project lovefest and generally we don’t criticize interesting projects but… Both of these projects are doing a lot of good work and I think will contribute a great deal of research and information regarding functionality and workflows that will help services develop into the future.  However, I think that both of these projects are 3-4 years too late.   I honestly believe that the ILS as we know it is dead (I know, someone should tell libraries – but its coming).  I think that if OCLC every gets their act together and really makes a commitment to open the WorldCat database, then that is a game changer.  But whether it’s through products like WorldCat Local, Summons, etc., I think that the idea of a localized catalog will be an antiquated concept by the time the OLE (and likely the XC) products have finally reached a level of production.  I certainly could be wrong (and would be happy to be so), but the needs that these projects are looking to solve have solutions now (if just a handful of barriers preventing the free flow of data were removed).
  5. I’m ready to talk about something other than Solr.  Yes, its cool.  Yes, it is driving many of the next gen. library interfaces and is being used by libraries in lots of exciting ways – and yes, now we’ve spent a good deal of time talking about it for 3 years — let’s talk about what’s next.
  6. I actually left feeling a little bad for OCLC.  Now, I certainly have no  problem letting it be known when I think that they are acting outside of the interests of the membership.  Or, letting them know that I think that their current service model for their API sucks.  Or that they screwed up when they tried to modify the records transfer policy.  But at the same time, we do need to give them credit where it is due.  OCLC’s grid services team is doing a lot of good work trying to create a set of APIs that will finally let the membership work with data available in WorldCat.  Yes, there are gaps.  Yes, the current terms of service limit the API’s usefulness tremendously – but at the same time, a year ago these didn’t exist and from my conversations with OCLC, they are showing a real willingness to listen to comments as to how they can make this service useful for members.  And while I doubt it will be as open as I’d like, I think that in time (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was near time) that we will see some significant changes to the service terms to allow libraries to make use of what could be a tremendous resource.  And while there was a general interest in what OCLC was doing, there was also some good natured, and not so good natured fun poked at OCLC’s expense (of which, Roy likely bore the brunt).  I say, push them, prod them – disagree with them – but there have been some really impressive gains made over the last year, I don’t think that OCLC is getting credit for that.  (though, if they don’t do something this year to make this API more open – well, I’ll have to take some of this back).


So those are my quick thoughts.  I’ll post a more comprehensive write-up over the weekend (likely).


‡ MarcEdit Plug-in

By reeset / On / In code4lib09, LibLime, MarcEdit

So, one of the presentations at Code4Lib this year discussed one of the latest initiatives to come out of the LibLime company, ‡  ‡ is a repository of ~30 million MARC records released under an Open Data license. 

From my perspective, one of the things that I found most interesting about the ‡ platform is the support for developers.  ‡ provides a very simple to use push/pull data model over simple HTTP.  It’s something that I’ve been interested in taking a look at for a little while and after chatting with Joshua Ferraro after his session, decided to see how difficult it would be to actually work with this service.

So, I decided to create a plug-in.  Much in the same way MarcEdit has a Connexion batch editing plug-in, I created a ‡ helper plug-in.  I’ll make the plug-in available for download with the next version of MarcEdit through the Plugin Manager (so, likely when I get back from Code4Lib), but have posted the source code (in C#) and a short youtube video for folks wanting to see how it works.

While I’m not sure if ‡ will catch on as a service, I’m very impressed by LibLime’s effort to create a large, shared cataloging database that comes with a set of API to allow developers the ability to integrate directly with it.  Hopefully, OCLC will follow LibLime’s lead and eventually add push functionality integration for WorldCat – allowing membership and library developers an opportunity to develop their own cataloging interfaces to the resource.  Until then…

Youtube video (I think youtube has finished processing it – if note, check back):

C# Source code:


Finally in Providence

By reeset / On / In code4lib09

Whew – made it in early enough to make my afternoon meetings and chat with a few folks.  The flight today was great.  Got upgraded to first class for the lion’s share of the trip, and got to get in some reading (the Life of Pi – so far, so good).  After my meetings, got in a great four mile run and am now just relaxing doing a little bit of coding.  Anyway, looking forward to the rest of the conference. 


On my way to Providence

By reeset / On / In code4lib09

So, while my trip to Providence got off to a rocky start yesterday, I must say that I had a fantastic experience working with the Delta representatives getting it resolved, and as a bonus – this is the first time travelling as a Gold Medallion member – so when I checked in, I was automatically bumped to first class.  Rock on!  Hopefully the changes don’t have an adverse affect on the backend (I’m flying home on United and have had trouble in the past when tickets for one leg needs to be re-issued) – but as of today, I’m looking forward to flying in style.

See you all soon in Providence!