Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wanted: open access to our own data

John Blyberg, an L2.0 luminary (who's recently joined us in CT at Darien), wrote this article about open APIs and our integrated library systems. This cry for us to be able to get at the information contained in our own Integrated Library Systems - at least in read mode - is similar to my cry earlier this year that database vendors start creating open access to their data sources. Today's vendors make us pay for data (whether it's generated by us, as in our catalogs, or by others, as in commercial databases) in online vaults that make information extraction and presentation a difficult and inflexible task.

Blyberg (as often is the case!) is right!!!!! -- ALL of our library vendors need to create open APIs. These APIs would then allow us librarians to encode a unified web interface - but more importantly, these APIS would allow our own end-users (the patrons!) to extract and decontextualize information from our online resources so that they can use said resources however they would like.

By ALL, I'm including OCLC - whose products, such as ContentDM and OCLC's Digital Archive, for example, lock up our data in less than flexible ways! In our own OCLC-based digital archive, some of our newsletters that were theoretically harvested for long-term preservation can't even be viewed by browsers that are not recent IE! Why can't the digital archive hold onto what it needs to hold onto, yet allow users flexible paths in - why can't it automatically generate RSS feeds? why can't it handle code in a way that allows Firefox users to view "ingested" html pages?

It's time for a revolution...


Peter Suber said...

Hi Sharon. Do you have a link to Blyberg's article?

Sharon c. said...

Hi Peter,
It's visible at http://libraryjournal.com/article/CA6453423.html - it's also linked from the title of my blog entry (should've specified in the body) - hope that this helps!