Another OCLC logo parody. The person who did wishes to remain anonymous—and for good reason!
Archive for December, 2008
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
When we decided to add Reviews as an enhancement to LibraryThing for Libraries, we wanted to work on just a few OPACs at a time.
Otherwise, it would be 2010 before we finished Reviews (and no one wanted that). We started with Horizon Information Portal and WebPac, for a number of reasons*. Next, we decided to get iBistro and Voyager† on board.
We’ve had a couple of iBistro libraries add the Reviews Enhancement, but no Voyager libraries are live yet. You can check out the full list here.
* We knew the systems well, many libraries use them, and who doesn’t like saying HIP?
† I can’t talk about that particular OPAC without pronouncing it ‘vee-ger’ in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s just me.
Sunday, December 28th, 2008
I need to broaden my horizons, and pick up a few good book-industry and bookseller blogs. I don’t care about book deals, but I wouldn’t mind some insight into how publishing is changing, particularly when it comes to technology.
I subscribe to some 114 blogs right now—mostly library-related, with a smattering of technology, startup, web 2.0 and competitor ones thrown in. But I don’t follow much in the way of publishing industry blogs—pretty much only the BookFinder Journal, Michael Cairns’ Persona non Data, Eoin Purcell, BookBrunch and Joe Wikert. And I only read one bookseller blog, the recently-discovered Hang Fire Books, which I read for the pulp covers.
Does anyone know of any good blogs?
Monday, December 22nd, 2008
LCSH.info, Ed Summers’ presentation of Library of Congress Subject Headings data as Linked Data, has ended. As Ed explained:
“On December 18th I was asked to shut off lcsh.info by the Library of Congress. As an LC employee I really did not have much choice other than to comply.”
I am not as up on or enthusiastic about Ed’s Semantic-Web intentions, but the open-data implications are clear: the Library of Congress just took down public data. I didn’t think things could get much worse after the recent OCLC moves, but this is worse. The Library of Congress is the good guy.
Jenn Riley put it well:
“I know our library universe is complex. The real world gets in the way of our ideals. … But at some point talk is just talk and action is something else entirely. So where are we with library data? All talk? Or will we take action too? If our leadership seems to be headed in the wrong direction, who is it that will emerge in their place? Does the momentum need to shift, and if so, how will we make this happen? Is this the opportunity for a grass-roots effort? I’m not sure the ones I see out there are really poised to have the effect they really need to have. So what next?”
The time has come to get serious. The library world is headed in the wrong direction. It’s wrong for patrons—and taxpayers. And it’s wrong for libraries.
By the way, Ed, we’re recruiting library programmers. The job description includes wanting to change the world.
See also: Panlibus.
Sunday, December 21st, 2008
I keep up with the Museum of Modern Betas* and today it found something wonderful: uClassify.
uClassify is a place where you can build, train and use automatic classification systems. It’s free, and can be handled either on the website or via an API. Of course, this sort of thing was possible before uClassify, but you needed specialized tools. Now anyone can do it—on a whim.
Their examples are geared toward the simple:
- Text language. What language is some text in?
- Gender. Did or a man or a woman write the blog? It was made for genderanalyzer.com (It’s right only 63% of the time.)
- What classical author your text is most alike? Used on oFaust.com (this blog is Edgar Allen Poe).
Where did I lose the librarians—mood? But wait, come back! The language classifier works very well. It managed to suss-out Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch reviews of the Hobbit.** So what if the others are trivial? The idea is solid. Create a classification. Feed it data and the right answer. Watch it get better and better.
Now, I’m a skeptic of automatic classification in the library world. There’s a big difference between spam/not-spam and, say, giving a book Library of Congress Subject Headings. But it’s worth testing. And, even if “real” classification is not amenable to automatic processes, there must be other interesting book- and library-related projects.
The Prize! So, LibraryThing calls on the book and library worlds to create something cool with uClassify by February 1, 2009 and post it here. The winner gets Toby Segaran’s Programming Collective Intelligence and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon or IndieBound. You can do it by hand or programmatically. If you use a lot of LibraryThing data, and it’s not one of the sets we release openly, shoot me an email about what you’re doing and I’ll give you green light.
Some ideas. My idea list…
- Fiction vs. Non-Fiction. Feed it Amazon data, Common Knowledge or LT tags.***
- DDC. Train it with Amazon’s DDC numbers and book descriptions. Do ten thousand books and see how well it’s guessing the rest.
- Do a crosswalk, eg., DDC to LCC, BISAC to DDC, DDC to Cutter, etc.
Merry data-driven Christmas!
*A website that tracks new “betas.” Basically, it tracks new web 2.0 apps. It also keeps tab of their popularity, according to Delicious bookmarks. LibraryThing is now number 12, beating out Gmail. Life isn’t fair.
**Yes, we’re going to get it going for reviews on the site itself. Give us some time. Cool as it is, we’re pretty busy right now. Note: You can’t give it the URL alone. You have to give it the text of the review.
***We may do this with tags. We already do it very crudely, using it only for book recommendations.
Sunday, December 21st, 2008
National Library of Australia staff Christmas party does Thriller…
Hat tip: Kathryn Greenhill, with more library Thriller videos.
Thursday, December 18th, 2008
LibraryThing is hiring 1-2 library programmers/developers/hackers.
We want to find the best people available anywhere. Work for us in Maine, or stay where you are—in your pajamas for all we care.
LibraryThing and our LibraryThing for Libraries project are both growing rapidly. We are expanding our staff and taking on new, exciting projects. We think books and libraries are the world—and we’re going to change it.
The idea candidate would be:
- Willing to learn what you don’t know
- Knowledge of library systems, particularly OPACs
- Knowledge of library standards, particularly MARC
- Able to think globally and creatively about library technology
- Able to self-direct or collaborate with others as needed
- Able to communicate well with others
- Hard working to a fault
- Eager to change the world
Bonus points for:
- An MLS
- Driving Distance to Portland, Maine
- Strong CSS, HTML, usability, UX skills; Perl
- Committment and experience with Open Source and Open Data
- Already “out there” in terms of LibraryThing membership, or participation in similar sites
- Willingness to tolerate my quaint dislike of OO programming
- Experience with non-library bibliographic data
- Oenophilia, tyrophilia*
The position is eligible for our $1,000-in-free-books program. Refer someone to us and we pay $1,000 in free books. Self-refer and you get the books instead.
*Not going to concede on this one.
Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
Some genius over at the Technology Planning Committee of the SHARE Library Consortium in Washington put together a parody of the OCLC logo, incorporating Darth Vader. I’d like to think there were in part inspired by my transformation of the old OCLC logo into that of the Deathstar.
Which got me thinking. The muted response to OCLC’s new Policy is enormously frustrating. The Policy is the a major shift, taken with minimal member input, which effectively transforms an expensive transfer service into a permanent data monopoly. It runs against age-old library values, and in the face of everything else going on in the information world.
There’s only so many posts I can write digging into the legal language. So, maybe the time has come for humor. How about some new OCLC logos I put together?
Wouldn’t they look good on t-shirts at ALA Midwinter?
Well, that was a fun couple of hours! I just wish I could get the OCLC font just right.
Monday, December 15th, 2008
I’ve posted the following announcement on several rare book/library/American history listservs this morning as the official rollout of the Libraries of Early America project, an offshoot of the Legacy Libraries effort specifically for libraries created in America before c. 1825. Note: I’ve “blog-ified” the announcement here by adding additional links.
Have you ever wondered what books Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had in their personal libraries? How about 18th-century Virginia musician Cuthbert Ogle, or four generations of Mather family members? Or the most active female book collector in Virginia during the colonial/early national period, Lady Jean Skipwith?
A new project will make it possible to search, compare and study these and other Libraries of Early America. Using the book-cataloging website LibraryThing.com, scholars from institutions around the country (including Monticello, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Public Library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and others) have begun the process of creating digital catalogs of early American book collections – the project covers anyone who lived in America and collected primarily before 1825.
Is your institution home to any personal library collections or library inventories/book lists? Have you run across early American library catalogs (manuscript or printed) in the course of your research? We have begun compiling a list of collections to be added and are happy to receive further submissions.
Also, if your institution’s holdings include books from any of the personal libraries already completed or underway, we would be very interested to hear of them so that the records can be added to the database. While it will be impossible to catch every single book ever owned or read by these individuals, we intend to make these catalogs as complete as possible, so every title helps.
For more information, links, and so forth, please visit the Libraries of Early America group page. Feel free to ask any questions or offer any suggestions you have on the project, and if you’d like to volunteer, we’d love the assistance.