The Northern Ohio Technical Services Librarians (NOTSL) Fall 2015 Meeting on October 30th, titled Don’t be Afraid of the Big, Bad BIBFRAME (or Linked Data), focused on the broad definitions and theory as well as the details of BIBFRAME testing that the Library of Congress (LC) is conducting. The workshop and meeting was held at the Cuyahoga County Public Library Parma-Snow branch and there were about 50 attendees with a good mix of public and academic librarians.
A quick note: BIBFRAME stands for bibliographic framework and is a proposed replacement of MARC that uses the principles of linked data to store cataloging information in smaller pieces, instead of one record, that opens up the possibilities of connecting it to other data sources, combining library data in interesting ways, and incorporating it within the wider Internet.
Paul Frank (Library of Congress) presented in the morning on the LC BIBFRAME Pilot. He is the coordinator of the testing, including training the LC catalogers testing it and working with the developers programming it. Currently, the 40 catalogers are finishing up the first pilot, with the possibility of a second next year. Once the initial pilot concludes, there will be analysis and a report with findings produced. LC built a BIBFRAME editor and continues to refine it so that the process is streamlined yet still as detailed and robust as catalogers need to capture the necessary information. LC has a dedicated website for the BIBFRAME project and encourages anyone who is conducting their own testing to register with them so that findings and ideas can be more easily shared among independent testers.
After the lunch break, Stephanie Church ran the NOTSL business meeting which included promoting their annual NOTSL scholarships for professional development (closes Monday November 9th, 2015).
Roman Panchyshyn (Kent State University) continued the workshop with his presentation BIBFRAME for Dummies: What can Catalogers do Now? It covered the basics of BIBFRAME and linked data, from definitions and theories to overviews of the different groups trying out the new standard. He also discussed various ways to learn about and prepare for BIBFRAME and provided many resources. Two resources include the University of California (UC) Davis website that details their IMLS grant funded testing and the LC website with BIBFRAME related tools which has the open source code for their editor.
Part of the enjoyment of the workshop was the multitude of questions that the librarians had for both speakers. I have been to many conference of all sizes and this group had an insatiable curiosity and asked hard-hitting questions, clearly driven by a need to understand how it works and why BIBFRAME would be useful, which makes sense since these would be the users of this potential cataloging standard. While there is much left to figure out and test, it is exciting to here about the developments and see the progress so far. If nothing else, perhaps learning about BIBFRAME and linked data will encourage and empower librarians, especially catalogers, to learn programming skills and use them with confidence since they continue to become more popular and useful within libraries.
Slides for the presentations are available and I highly recommend reviewing both of them, staring with Roman Panchyshyn’s for a solid background for those new to the topic.