May 8, 20135

By Trevor Owens
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

I was thrilled to be able to participate in this year’s spring meeting of the Coalition of Networked Information in Seattle. The event brought together a range of leaders working on digital library tools, services, and platforms. Across a range of projects, I saw the kinds of broad collaborations between libraries and other kinds of organizations to develop, deploy, and manage digital infrastructure that fit quite well with the IMLS national digital platform priority. I wanted to share a bit about some of the sessions and highlight some of the work in this area that IMLS is supporting.

Cooperative Community-Anchored Collecting & Access

In the opening keynote, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive described some of the diversity of programs at the Internet Archive; its web archiving work and tools, as well as its work with digital and other audio music, books, and software. A theme that emerged across all these examples was the critical value that develops from libraries working and collecting together and pooling their efforts. In a world where libraries are increasingly leasing access to content, the Internet Archive has engaged projects to support libraries’ continued building of collections and enduring access, Brewster noted.

Advances in Software Preservation & Access

One of the keys to long-term access to digital information is figuring out how to run old software. Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University, and Euan Cochrane, Digital Preservation Manager from Yale University Libraries, presented two related projects that are providing access to legacy software through virtualization and emulation. Keith presented on work of the Olive Executable Archive (funded by a 2012 IMLS National Leadership Grant and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). Euan described a series of use cases for accessing old software at Yale, where he is making use of the open source bwFLA Emulation as a Service platform created at the Universität Freiburg. For more on Euan’s work, see a post he wrote about some of these cases on the Library of Congress digital preservation blog.

Aggregating and Sharing Data about Research Products

In an update on the SHARE (Shared Access Research Ecosystem) project, Judy Ruttenberg of the Association of Research Libraries and Jeff Spies of the Center for Open Science announced the launch of a public beta of the SHARE Notify platform. In this beta phase, this platform brings together data from more than 30 different repositories and resources, offers an interface to research activity across these areas, and provides access to them through an API. Work on SHARE Notify is jointly funded by IMLS and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Discussion in this session focused on the potential role platforms like this could play in supporting academic librarians as curators of the full range of scholarly output of colleges and universities.

Interoperable Image Framework Applied to Digitized Manuscript Collections

In a session titled Annotated Manuscripts in the IIIF Environment: Enhancing Scholarship and Creating Communities, Stephen Nichols, Tamsyn Rose-Steel, and Sayeed Choudhury from Johns Hopkins University presented on their work to use the International Interoperable Image Framework (IIIF) to develop use cases to support scholars’ use of digitized medieval manuscript collections. The presenters shared their perspectives on the potential for the technology and their vision for how, going forward, IIIF can support new ways for communities of scholars to engage with, annotate, and interpret these manuscripts.

Building the Business Case for Linked Data In Libraries

In “BIBFLOW: A Roadmap for Library Linked Data Implementation,” MacKenzie Smith and Carl Stahmer of University of California Davis and Eric Miller of Zepheria presented on their work to prototype and implement a linked data native infrastructure for cataloging and managing records at the UC Davis library. They shared a demo of how the tools work, focusing on how the resulting work has the potential to make cataloging much more efficient. Discussion in the session focused on the range of areas of descriptive work that these increased efficiencies could enable catalogers at research libraries to engage in. The BIBFLOW project is supported by a 2013 IMLS National Leadership Grant.

Shared Collaborative Infrastructure and Services For Libraries

Through these sessions, and many others, it is clear that broad-based collaborations around increasingly open digital infrastructure are making significant strides in the library community. Institutions are coming together, identifying common needs, and working to address them together.