OCLC Research Update

Blue circle, green circle, orange circle overlapping above OCLC in blackThe OCLC Research Update took place at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting on Monday, February 12, addressing recent and upcoming collaborative projects, pilots, and published reports from OCLC Research, its Research Library Partnership (RLP), and WebJunction. A recording of the program, which was streamed live, is available on Facebook.

Sharon Streams (director of WebJunction) defined the purpose of OCLC Research: to scale and accelerate library learning and innovation. Most of OCLC research output is created in collaboration with academic libraries, archives, library support organizations, and other non-profit organizations. Streams gave a brief update of a few projects starting with the “Production Value of Linked Data,” a collaboration of OCLC; Cornell University; Montana State Library; and the University of California, Davis. The goal of the project is to demonstrate production value of linked data by creating a suite of linked data services including a reconciliation service to connect traditional bibliographic information with linked data entities, a service to create and edit linked data entities, and a service to create and edit relationships between entities. The first phase of this project is completed; the second phase, an entity creator and editor, is on the way. Streams concluded the linked data piece of her presentation by saying that OCLC is looking for additional partners. More information about this project is available at the OCLC linked data summary.

Streams also reported on the “Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together” project that was designed to bring together libraries and Wikipedia to expand access to open, free, and authoritative information. As a part of the project, WebJunction offered 300 US public libraries staff a nine-week online training course to learn about the inner workings of Wikipedia. The course concluded in November 2017 with post-training evaluations. Streams gave specific examples of how the participants are implementing what they learned by offering information literacy classes and collaborating with school and university libraries to change the perception about Wikipedia.

Constance Malpas provided an update on collaboration with Ithaka S+R on the “University Futures, Library Futures” project. The goal of the project is to examine how the diversification of US universities affects university libraries and the services they provide. The project used IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) to create the topology of US universities. One of the dimensions of the topology is classifying universities based on the pronounced directional emphasis as supporting doctoral level research, providing multi-discipline liberal or science baccalaureate education and career-ready education. She had specific examples of how academic libraries aligned their services based on the academic institution type. The project team is currently collecting more data through survey and focus groups with key stakeholders.

Rachel L. Frick reported on the recently published OCLC position paper “Research and Learning Agenda for Archives, Special, and Distinctive Collections in Research Libraries.” According to Frick, the topic is increasingly important due to the changing role of special collections. The paper, created with a log of community input, includes three types of recommendations: research recommendations, recommendations for community conversations, and practical advice. OCLC hopes that the paper can be used for strategic planning and to inspire many groups to organize events and conversations around themes identified in the documents.

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