The days since my trip to ALA are increasing, and I still haven’t completely finished writing up my thoughts on some of the things I attended and learned there. I kept wondering if it was really worthwhile to write all of this up, but it helps me organize my thoughts and impressions, so here we are. These notes on Saturday’s holdings forum are the last of them.
I decided to attend this session because I’ve been working with serials holdings a lot in my new position, and little did I know, part of the presentation was all about the project I’m working on, and I got to meet one of our partners in person, as she was presenting. So that was kind of nice. The session in general was about work being done with serials the aggregate holdings information across many libraries, for various purposes. There were four presenters talking about their particular work with holdings information, and it raised for me some questions, and gave me a few answers.
The first presentation was by David Lawrence (being represented by Julie Su), who is creating an index of safety-related literature published in journals. He’s doing some intensive manual checking of journals in attempt to find any articles on safety published in any journal, which, well, is kind of a mind-boggling and seemingly Sisyphean task. It occurred to me, while hearing about his attempts, that incomplete metadata and systems that don’t effectively work together are making his work more complicated and more manual than it should be. One thing he’s having a hard time with is finding all the issues that have been published by a particular journal, and this is definitely a research area where my mind has been heading lately. It was good to see a real-life example of why this work might be useful (although, ok, I’m not sure how real-life this example is, because, really, how many people do this? I guess he’s trying to create a bibliography, which is common enough, but still…).
Yvette Diven from Ulrichs/Serials Solutions presented on their work. It was kind of neat to hear about how this tool that we’re making a lot of use of in our work is created, but it always made me realize how ad hoc it is, as they collect data from basically any source they can. I wonder what the implications are that our main source of serials history data is a proprietary database, but what else is new? I think it would be interesting to bring some linked data points into the database, and to be able to use it more openly, to link to our catalog records, and to give the journals in their database permanent, linkable IDs. But I don’t think that’s necessarily in their best interest, so…
In another interesting coincidence, the next presentation was by Peter Burnhill, who left a comment on this blog about his work with PEPRS. Unfortunately, he was absent, and was represented by his colleague Regina Reynolds. PEPRS is a registry of digital journal archiving projects like PORTICO and JSTOR. It sounds like the digital partner to the project I’m working on, PAPR. It’s intended to be used to find candidates for print archiving and for de-selection; in fact, I suspect we could use their database to inform title selection for WEST. They are also interested in universal holdings (or what I’ve been calling publication history) in order to know what was and was not published. In general, it’s useful for the same reason it’s useful to PAPR: It helps us to know if we are archiving the whole title, and how much is missing from our archive.
The last presenter in the session was Lizanne Payne, with whom our team is working on PAPR. She talked primarily about the OCLC Pilot Project underway to establish an archiving standard for Local Holdings Records (LHRs). The project is intended to ease resource sharing for items that are preserved but are still accessible.
Here are some of my general notes:
- “Holdings” are less important in a digital world; they are less important as access metadata, more important for preservation metadata.
- OpenURL linking at the title level would be useful for librarians, less for students and researchers, who are almost always looking for article-level metadata.
- There is no publisher authority file. Should there be? If so, should it be created as linked data (linkable data?)
- Should ISSNs be assigned to print journals that previously lacked an ISSN? Or should another type of identifier that an be more universal be established?
- We need radical reform of holdings data to make it more machine-actionable.
I think I came away from this with an even stronger sense that there should be a more centralized, open database for serials data, or at least a better way of creating and sharing serials bibliographic data. I have had some ideas floating around in my mind that connect hierarchical entity-relationship mapping for serials with library linked data concepts, but nothing too concrete yet (and I’m hoping to present it as a paper for a journal). This presentation confirmed that there is a need for the kind of data I’m thinking of, and showed me some other project work that’s going on in the same area. I think there is nice potential for collaboration between PEPRS and PAPR, and hopefully we’re doing things in some similar ways, so the data can be interoperable in some ways.