Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Berkeley Accord" Maps Route to Opening Library Data Silos

The Digital Library Federation (DLF) has announced (through the blog of DLF Executive Director Peter Brantley) details of the progress towards creating a discovery API for library automation systems.

For a generation now libraries have been amassing data in our integrated library systems using a mix of proprietary technology from the vendor community and our own arcane standards. For years now this value-added "stuff" has been locked away from the public Internet (and our patrons) in data "silos".

Last year the DLF
put together an ILS-Discovery Interface Task Force to work out a way to expose library ILS data to Internet searches. The resulting proposed API (application programming interface) would use standard, open protocols and technologies to provide a common means to harvest bibliographic content and holdings information as well as provide a stable URL link to ILS records.

Last month the task force secured the support of most of the major vendors in the library market, with the notable exception of Innovative Interfaces (which abstained) to a document which they are calling the Berkeley Accord (after the location of the meeting at the Faculty Club at UC Berkeley).

Here are the ten signatories:
  1. Talis
  2. Ex Libris
  3. LibLime
  4. BiblioCommons
  5. SirsiDynix
  6. Polaris Library Systems
  7. VTLS
  8. California Digital Library
  9. OCLC
  10. AquaBrowser
If this project succeeds, it will rank with the creation of the MARC standard in its importance to libraries.

As long as library data falls short of full access from Internet discovery, we will be an extra step away from our patrons, many of whom will not take it.

It reminds me of the rail system in Los Angeles, which stops several miles short of the airport, leaving customers to take a bus the rest of the way, and providing a big opening for the airport shuttle business. We have competitors, too!

(Thanks to Eric Lease Morgan and the NGC4LIB listserv for spreading the news!)

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