Data at the network level


The impact of networking on organizational evolution is interesting: how does networking impact how libraries coordinate their resources to get their work done effectively? In the ‘network age’ there have been several major shifts in how libraries coordinate resources (and by resources, I am thinking about their budgets, staff, and systems as well as collections). Shared cataloging and resource sharing mark one important shift, where libraries externalized some activities to a shared policy and service infrastructure. The externalization of A&I services, and then journals, to aggregators and others marks another major shift. These types of resource coordination or sourcing decisions – go local, collaboratively source through some cooperative arrangement, source with an external supplier – are becoming more frequent across a greater range of services. Think of general systems infrastructure, repository infrastructure, population of knowledge bases, virtual reference, and off-site storage for example.
My colleague Janifer Gatenby has a reflective article in the new issue of Ariadne which looks at the data that is needed to manage library operations. She discusses how this might be coordinated differently over the medium term future. She discusses the workflow across three core collection categories: print/bought, licensed/electronic, and digital/digitized collections. Currently, these are largely managed separately and locally. As we move to more collective approaches, and as we seek to manage collections in more integrated ways, it is appropriate to consider whether data and workflows might be coordinated differently across groups of libraries.

As library collections are increasingly shared, there may be significant advantages (in terms of both cost and efficiency) in moving more acquisitions and licensing data and processes to the network level where they can be shared among the ILS, ERM and repositories and with other libraries. Moreover, libraries are finding their ILS acquisitions modules inadequate for managing the acquisition of the newer parts of whole collections. There is already a clear need for the acquisitions of the three parts of the collection to be managed as a whole; moving data to the network, thereby enabling shared network services, is one solution. [Main Articles: ‘The Networked Library Service Layer: Sharing Data for More Effective Management and Co-operation’, Ariadne Issue 56]

Janifer steps through some of the issues in suggestive ways focusing on one major area: “An example is explored, namely the benefits of moving data from different local systems to the network level to manage acquisition of the total collection as a whole and in combination with consortia members.”
An important point to emerge is that different categories of data may live at different levels:

There is a clear need to define data at multiple levels:

  • globally sharable data (e.g. bibliographic metadata, holdings, issue level holdings, suppliers, statistics, reference query-and-answer pairs)
  • Data that can be shared within one or more co-operatives to which the library belongs (e.g. selection / rejection decisions, weeding reasons)
  • Local data that are not shared (e.g. budgets, invoice details, some user information)

[Main Articles: ‘The Networked Library Service Layer: Sharing Data for More Effective Management and Co-operation’, Ariadne Issue 56]

Update: check out Jim’s post on HangingTogether for some context about Janifer’s article.




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