Panlibus Blog

Archive for March, 2008

Talis talks with the New Media Consortium about Horizon Report 2008


In our latest podcast I talk with Larry Johnson, Alan Levine and Rachel Smith of the New Media Consortium. We discuss the 2008 edition of their Horizon Report, exploring both their methods and the wide-ranging implications for Higher Education of their findings.


During the conversation, we refer to the following resources;

This conversation was conducted using Skype on Wednesday 26 March, recorded with Ecamm Network‘s Call Recorder for Skype, and edited on a Mac with Garageband.

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Fiona Bradley Talks with Talis about the Semantic Web and Libraries

fbradleyThe guest for this Talking with Talis Podcast is Fiona Bradley, Australian Librarian working for IFLA in the Netherlands.

Fiona Launched the blog Semantic Library, to help her find out more about the Semantic Web. We discuss what she has discovered from the blog and the relevance of the Semantic Web to libraries.


During the conversation we mention:

This conversation was conducted as a Skype call on Wednesday 12th March 2008, recorded with Ecamm Network‘s Call Recorder for Skype, and edited on a Mac with Garageband.
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Library Labs Wiki promotes Open Source

LibraryLabsHome The National Library of Australia Library Labs has recently launched a Wiki to keep folks up to date with, and engaged with their developments.

Ever since I came across, what I call their kitchen sink demonstration OPAC (they have put practically everything except the kitchen sink, in to related information around the results) I have been impressed with what they are up to.

The Wiki, has an Our Prototypes page upon which can be found links to, and descriptions of, three prototype interfaces: The NBD Prototype – the official name for demonstrator I mentioned; The Beta Catalogue – a VuFind fronted re-engineering of the National Library’s catalogue; The Single Business Prototype – a proof of concept for providing a single discovery interface to all the library’s current and future discovery services.  The page also gives a heads up that a Newspaper Search and Delivery Service is on its way.

The home page of the Wiki proclaims:

We are particularly interested in forming a community of Australian business analysts and developers who are working on similar problems and who are interested in  interoperable, standards-based solutions that can foster the development of a national information infrastructure. We are also interested in working with colleagues at an international level to provide prototypes and testbeds for new and emerging standards.

An also:

At the National Library of Australia we have started to redevelop our digital library services using a service-oriented architecture and open source software solutions where these are functional and robust.

Putting these two together it is good to see the promotion of open standards and open software both within and outside of Australia.

This picks up on the themes from last month’s Code4lib 2008 conference, as described by Rob.  It is time we all started to cooperate around the innovative work going on globally.

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The New Library 2.0 Gang launched

L2Gbanner300 In co-operation with Library Journal The Library 2.0 Gang is returning to a podcast player near you.

As hinted at earlier this month, the Gang is to be convened on a monthly basis to discuss the topics of the day.

For each show I will be joined by several contributors drawn from a pool of regulars from the world of libraries and the technologies that influence them.

The first show in the new series is a great example of the type of interesting and informative discussion you can expect from The Library 2.0 Gang.   It takes its inspiration from the themes that emerged from the Code4lib 2008 conference in Portland, last month.  The subjects covered being the Open Library, ILS APIs, and new Cataloguing Influences.   The gang of regulars John Blyberg, Nicole C. Engard, Carl Grant, Char Booth, and Rob Stlyes were joined by our guest for the month Aaron Swartz of The Open Library.

Get your self across to The Library 2.0 Gang site, or to, through where it is being syndicated, and have a listen.

As I say in the show, I am interested in your input for topics, questions, guests, and even regular contributors for the gang.  Droop me an email to – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Off The Track…

I wrote a while back about the WoGroFuBiCo report from LC, and then again a few days later about Karen Calhoun’s Response to WoGroFuBiCo.

Thanks to Karen Schneider twittering about Mann’s Opus, I picked up Thomas Mann’s response to the report.

Thomas’ response is entitled "On the Record" but Off the Track: A Review of the Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on The Future of Bibliographic Control, With a Further Examination of Library of Congress Cataloguing Tendencies

Mann starts his response with a section of major points, starting with the statement that:

The Working Group’s Report is off the track in many of its major assumptions, assertions, and recommendations

That’s a pretty strong statement, and what follows in 38 pages would do even Annoyed Librarian proud.

Over on Cataloguing Futures, Christine Schwartz describes the report as a must-read, Karen Schneider comments

How could I *not* love this report?

arkham sums up my feelings better, commenting

First, I ended up skipping a large amount of it, when it became abundantly clear that the majority of the paper is a long rant (and lecture) on how important LCSH and LCSH left-anchored browse are and how they work – and don’t work in an Amazoogle environment.

And this ranting style is what I struggle with most about the points, I agree with much of the sentiment, and having spoken to several folks at LC I think the WoGroFuBiCo do too.

The WoGroFuBiCo report treats much of what Mann deems important with a light touch not because it is unimportant, but because the library world has been doing stuff well for many, many years. The things it focuses on, moving onto the web more wholly and in a more embracing way.

WoGroFuBiCo is about stepping out into the world once more, not abandoning everything we hold dear.

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New API makes it easy to to put Google Books in your interface

Cenote-1 Google announces an API that makes it easy to link Google Book Search in to your interface…

… we’ve released a new API that lets you link easily to any of our books. Web developers can use the Books Viewability API to quickly find out a book’s viewability on Google Book Search and, in an automated fashion, embed a link to that book in Google Book Search on their own sites.

Prism-1 Like several others, we at Talis got an early heads up on the release of the API and within a few hours the Browse on Google Book Search link appeared on Cenote the Open User interface to UK bibliographic holdings stored in the Talis Platform, and a demonstration prototype of the upcoming new Talis OPAC interface – Prism 3.

If you have an ISBN, LCCN, or OCLC and pass it to the API you will get back a flag to say if Google have the book, and the URL to link to if they have.  Anyone with access to the html of your page and a modicum of Javascript knowledge can soon get this working.

As highlighted in another Google post about the API, several libraries have already implemented the link in their interfaces, including:

And other online catalogue sites such as:openlib

I expect a blizzard of posts and Press Releases as the feature appears like a rash across the worlds OPACs – Ex Libris already being near the front of the queue.

A holder of rich metadata opens up an API that makes it easy to create mashups with that data in user interfaces – isn’t that what the web world was raving about a couple of years back – you remember that Web 2.0 thingy

So why so much excitement about this announcement now?  It is because it is about book data – everyone relates to books and the library world has been so bad at opening up its data to do this – it is down to Google to do it for us. Also system vendors in our world are notorious for making it difficult to do this kind of thing.

Ex Libris, Talis, and others are demonstrating that the sleeping giant of the library systems world is at least flickering an eyelid in recognition that the world around them has changed.  How long before it fully awakens to the fact that the future systems will be mashups of components and services from commercial, open source, and many currently non-library vendor organisations.  Moves like the DLF ILS API initiative will only add momentum to this process – if only everyone will get out of the way, cooperate and let the inevitable happen.

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SLIC’s Elaine Fulton Talks with Talis

elaine_fulton Elaine Fulton Director, Scottish Library and Information Council/CILIP in Scotland is the subject of this Talking with Talis Podcast.

From library assistant in East Kilbride to Director of SLIC, Elaine has had a long career in and around Public Libraries in Scotland. For a significant amount of that time she was associated with library systems, which has been a great help in her current position.


We discuss her career; the role of SLIC/CILIP in Scotland; the differences and advantages of working through the Scottish Government; and past and current SLIC projects.

This conversation was conducted as a SkypeOut call on Wednesday 5th March 2008, recorded with Ecamm Network‘s Call Recorder for Skype, and edited on a Mac with Garageband.
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Will we really have to resort to subversion to become open?

So we all agree, it would be better for everyone if all ILSs had an API – well most of us anyway.

The road to this enlightened agreement has been a long one.  Back in 2005 John Blyberg, then at AADL put forward his ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights containing demands such as “Open, read-only, direct access to the database” and “A full-blown, W3C standards-based API to all read-write functions“.  John soon followed this up by producing PatREST an API on top of Ann Arbour’s Innovative Millennium system.

Winding the clock, and lots of blog posts, forward a couple of years and there is enough momentum for the DLF to set up it’s ILS Discovery API Task Force.  This group following a survey, have come up with a Draft Recommendation for the functionally of an ILS API.

Wind on again to March 6th 2008 – the recommendations are discussed in a meeting in San Francisco attended by many of the library system vendors, open source projects and other interested parties (Serials Solutions, Proquest, Ex Libris, CDL, Endeca, III, NLM, LoC, University of Maryland, UCLA, OCLC, Vanderbilt University, Oregon State University, XC, Bibliocommons, VuFind).

The word from the meeting is that the vendors appeared to be luke-warm to say the least about the proposals – pushing for any circulation functionality, holds etc., to be removed from the spec.  I understand that one vendor claimed that it would not be possible to harvest MARC records from their system.

Wind back a tiny bit to a breakout session at Code4lib 2008, hosted by Emily Lynema (previous Talking with Talis guest).  This was a very positive meeting with discussion about the way we could all come together to turn the recommendations in to a reality.  There was consensus that the Open Source community could have a significant part to play in this.  A common theme in this session was that there could be little help for this expected from the established ILS vendors – as appears to have been confirmed in San Francisco.

A suggestion was made that an open community could share ways to access both Open Source and commercial ILSs.  This would then help others build ILS specific connectors for implementations of the DLF standard API.  Then came the jaw-dropping question – “could such contributions to the community be made anonymously, so that the person making it would not bring retribution down on them, and their employer, from their vendor?“.

Have we really come to such a sorry state in parts of our industry that efforts to open up access, to data in University and Public Libraries for the benefit of all library users, can only be done by subverting normal openness and cooperation.  It’s their data after all!

Those that staff the vendors, which some of the library technologists at Code4lib are afeard of, have obviously never read the Cluetrain Manifesto – or at least if they did, they didn’t get it.

Markets are conversations!

Picture shared by biverson on Flickr.

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Mark Leggott Talks with Talis

Leggott, Mark (W) For this Talking with Talis podcast I am joined by Mark Leggott from the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Mark an avid promoter of Open Source solutions, talks about the need for an open shared knowledgebase for journals, before moving on to describe his work at UPEI.

With the aid of Open Source software such as Drupal and Fedora, Mark has enabled the delivery of a holistic solution to learning, administration and research across the University.


Resources referenced in the conversation:

This conversation was conducted as a Skype call on Tuesday 5th March 2008, recorded with Ecamm Network‘s Call Recorder for Skype, and edited on a Mac with Garageband.
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The New Library 2.0 Gang

I’m often asked when we are going to bring back the regular Library 2.0 Gang podcast show, especially after the special we did on Roy Tennant’s Library Software Manifesto, back in December.

The great news is that the Gang will be back – this month!  The first show in a new improved regular Talis Library 2.0 Gang series is being recorded this week and, subject to technical wizardry, should be heading towards a podcast player near you, next week.

The format of the show will be a regular, same time every month, round-table podcast.  As chair I will be joined by several contributors drawn from a pool of regulars from the world of libraries, to discuss the topics of the day.  Each month we will be joined a guest relevant to one of the topics under discussion.

The topics for the first show will be influenced by issues raised at the recent code4lib 2008 conference in Portland Oregon, such as The Open Library, ILS APIs, and new approaches to cataloguing.

Invitations for regular contributors have been sent far and wide, including well known names from organisations such as LibraryThing, Library Journal, OCLC, LibLime, SirsiDynix, and Care Affiliates – many of whom have already responded positively.

I am also pleased to announce that The Library 2.0 Gang is to be syndicated through to reach an even wider audience of Gang devotees. 

This won’t just be a one way affair.  Beyond being your regular monthly update on the topics of the day, we want you to get involved.  On the first show you will hear me appealing for your ideas for topics and guests for following shows.   Ask the gang a question – email me your questions, lighthearted or on the big topics of the day. I hope to include questions from listeners in every show.  I will be setting up a Talis Library 2.0 Gang email address for your contributions, but in the meantime you can contact me direct –

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