OCLC Introduces an API for Anyone to Access Book Data

OCLC announced on Monday the availability of a new API for querying the WorldCat database: the WorldCat Basic API. This is a big deal — it opens up part of the metadata in WorldCat to anyone who wants it (for non-commercial purposes). Previously, access to WorldCat data through the developer network was limited to institutions that are members of OCLC. Data returned includes text strings for author names and book titles, ISBN and OCLC identifiers, a link to the HTML display of the record on WorldCat.org, and an optional HTML-formatted citation.

OLE Project Design Phase Final Report

There is an announcement on the OLE Project site that links to the final report as submitted to the Mellon Foundation. This version of the report has minor corrections in the text and now includes information about the group of libraries that have committed to the build phase of the project. Those libraries are:

  • Indiana University (lead)
  • Florida Consortium (University of Florida, Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, Rollins College, University of Central Florida, University of Miami, University of South Florida, and the Florida Center for Library Automation)
  • Lehigh University

Index Data on Z39.50 for Dummies

Earlier this year, Index Data started a new blog. I wanted to call out a series of posts (parts one and two) their newly started blog called Z39.50 for Dummies. Wolfram Schneider on the Index Data staff wrote these two posts.

Google’s Watching What We’re Doing — At Least In Aggregate

OhioLINK Tweet for Adding Google Books links in the Central CatalogAn interesting thing happened at my place of work (OhioLINK) today. We recently added links to our central catalog pointing to manifestations in Google Books. The way it was decided to set it up, though, was to only point to Google Books if the full text was available. We tweeted about it to let our community know that this option was now available. The tweet included a link to a particular record that showed (at the time) an example of this change: Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.

Proposals for NISO Work Items: Physical Delivery Best Practices and Standardized Markup for Journal Articles

NISO voting members are currently considering two new work items: a statement of best practices for the physical delivery of library resources and formalizing the NLM journal article DTD de facto standards. The Physical Delivery and Standardized Markup for Journal Articles proposal documents are openly available for download.

Open Library Environment Final Report Draft Released

Over the weekend, the folks at Duke University coordinating the development of the OLE Project Design Final Report released a draft for public comment. Weighing in at 100 pages (don’t let that put you off — there are lots of pictures), it represents the best thinking of a couple dozen individuals listening to hundreds of professionals working in libraries. Participants were challenged to consider not only their existing environments and workflows, but also how things could be put together differently. And “differently” — in this context — means thinking about tighter integration with information systems and processes at the host institution.

Three New Search Services: Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, Google Squared

It has been a wild few weeks in search engines — or search-engine-like services. We’ve seen the introduction of no fewer than three high-profile tools … Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, and Google Squared … each with their own strengths and needing their own techniques — or, at least, their own distinct frame of reference — in order to maximize their usefulness. This post describes these three services, what their generally good for, and how to use them. We’ll also do a couple of sample searches to show how each is useful in its own way.

Google Search Engine Adds Support for RDFa, Or Do They?

Via a post and an interview on the O’Reilly Radar blog, Google announced limited support for parsing RDFa statements and microformat properties in web page HTML coding and using those statements to enhance the relevance of search results as so-called “rich snippets”. In looking at the example review markup outlined in the O’Reilly post, though, I was struck by some unusual and unexpected markup. Specifically, that the namespace was this http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/ thing that I had never seen before, and the “rating” property didn’t have any corresponding range that would make that numeric value useful in a computational sense.

Tweaking the New FriendFeed Interface

FriendFeed went live yesterday with changes to the user interface and back-end systems. The changes were moderately positive, taken as a whole, but there are aspects of the new user interface that I don’t like — the color scheme, the removal of the service icons, and the (over)-use of whitespace. Fortunately, with Firefox plus a few extensions as my primary browser, I’m able to tweak the interface to be closer to my liking. If your tastes resemble mine, I both feel sorry for you and want to help you improve your view of FriendFeed.

Advances in OpenSearch Definitions

Screenshot of adding the OSU Libraries Catalog Search

Earlier this month, Ohio State University Libraries launched the OSUL Labs area. (Congratulations and kudos to Eric Schnell and the others at OSU that have taken this step to “include customers as active participants in the development and/or testing of new products and services.”) Their first release is an OpenSearch definition for the library catalog. It has been ages since I’ve messed with OpenSearch, and I didn’t remember (or didn’t know it was possible) to have the function add the OpenSearch definition right from the OpenSearch menu, as shown in this figure from the OSUL announcement of this feature. (What I remember is the “programatic” way of doing this.) The autodiscovery is done with a special <link> tag in the head of the HTML:

<link rel="search"
  type="application/opensearchdescription+xml"
  href="http://library.osu.edu/opensearch.xml"
  title="Add OSU Libraries Catalog search" />