Data wells: one big index

Lorcan 1 min read

I was interested to hear the concept of a ‘data well’ discussed when I was in Sweden the other week.
It seems to be used in the sense of an infrastructure to ingest, normalise and provide integrated access to multiple streams of data. In this way, library services can be built on a consolidated data resource, rather than having to actively manage the integration as a part of those services (as happens now in the metasearch model).
The idea of a data well is integral to the Ting project (mentioned in these pages the other day), collaboratively sourced data and systems infrastructure for Danish public libraries. It was also the subject of a tender from DEFF, the Danish Electronic Research Library, earlier this year. In the latter case, the starting point was metadata for journal articles and ebooks.
This is clearly in line with the trend we have seen recently towards consolidation of the fragmented database infrastructure to support a better user experience. Google Scholar was an important stimulus for this activity.
In thinking about this direction a few years ago I asked a question about where this was going to happen …

Another approach is to consolidate data resources into larger reservoirs. This has the advantage of reducing the burden of integration, and enhancing the ability to create value-added services. But how and at what level could this be done? [Metasearch, Google and the rest]

The Danish examples are of national infrastructures (although the actual creation could be sourced with other suppliers). ‘Data wells’ of the type discussed here are also under construction by OCLC, Serials Solutions (Summon), Ebsco, Elsevier, and Ex Libris, among others. And Google Scholar continues to operate.
Two thoughts. One: the focus now is on integration; it will have to shift to creating value-added service over those integrated resources. Such added value may be created by the integrators, libraries and others. And two: how many such data wells are required?
I was interested that the two previous blog entries I was thinking of as I wrote this one are five years old! Here they are:

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