CLOCK implementation: key themes (the Peterborough meeting)

Posted on May 2nd, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

Screengrab of our notes from the CLOCK Peterborough meeting

This blog post is a comment upon the formal project implementation plan, and gives some more detail about how the CLOCK project intends to meet its project aims.

In February, 2012, the project team (EC, CL, PS, OS) met at Peterborough Regional College (roughly equidistant between Lincoln and Cambridge!) to discuss the implementation plan and our CLOCK ‘first steps’. We made copious notes using an interactive whiteboard. Here’s what we agreed for CLOCK…

Most of the day’s discussion was spent attempting to define more clearly the users/audience for CLOCK, narrowing down the field of study a bit as we went along, and looking for potential ways to engage those audiences in the research. We agreed that our users consist of:

1. Cataloguers and library managers looking to innovate their resource description workflows as well as contribute to the corpus of Open Bib Data, through improving/correcting/augmenting existing records as well as submitting new records, “adding to the story” by allowing libraries to incorporate data elements outside the boundaries of traditional resource description.

We spent a while discussing how the project might approach the problem of proposing new “…minimal workflows for cataloguing around individual, disaggregated RDF elements” (taken from the project plan). We’ve also since discussed this back at Lincoln with staff in the Library and LNCD – I’ll shortly be blogging some diagrams which illustrate several different possible approaches to cataloguing workflow, as part of the ‘Users and use cases’ thread. We’ll also ve speaking to cataloguers at Lincoln and at Cambridge to try and get a clearer picture of the ‘pinch points’ in existing cataloguing, where applications using OBD might make a difference to their work.

Key quotes:

“Matching / negotiating of the best available Open bib data through common identifiers; the importance of a social/reputational aspect in identifying authoritative data; [use of] associated social/reputational metadata making explicit the provenance, history, and ‘pagerank’ measurements of each data element. [The phrase 'a narrative verdict on the catalogue record' was used…]“

2. Researchers (qualified as “the ‘serious’ and tech-savvy researcher“), who may be keen to incorporate Open Bib Data in user tools (e.g. citation/reference management software). We agreed to concentrate within the CLOCK project on a specific discipline—that of Drama/Performing Arts—because of the interesting challenges posed by the description of performance resources in existing bibliographic data. (“Almost anything you’d want to know about a play isn’t recorded in the MARC record!”). We identified a number of potentially useful resources and sources of data, including:

  • The play’s the thing
  • TheatreDB
  • Resources in institutional repositories
  • Theatricalia
  • Dutch Culture Link
  • Wikipedia/DBpedia

We agreed that we’ll set up a series of interviews/structured tasks for researchers in performing arts at Cambridge and Lincoln; also for subject librarians in the discipline (as a proxy to the researchers themselves). CLOCK will look at how well existing catalogue data describes performance and related resources (perhaps by sampling MARC records at both instititutions), and how external sources of ‘non-library’ data might complement and enhance those records.

3. Developers attached to academic libraries, who are looking to build applications exploiting available Open Bib Data, and techniques for interrogating and exploiting that data. The engagement with this audience is probably more at a strategic level than the first two – what are the technology choices and the decisions around the design of APIs and data endpoints – can we make a case study on developing using OBD?

We also discussed CLOCK’s overlap with other projects (in particular the Open Biblio 2 and the Open Education Metadata UK project). This work will be picked up by Ed Chamberlain, who is a common factor in all three projects!

“The project team believe that an important aspect of this innovation will be serious consideration given to the development of an awesome, national, open scholarly catalogue knowledgebase for the UK (“” or “”).”

Members of the CLOCK project team have since signed up to the new DATA-AC-UK mailing list and we will use the project as an opportunity to propose first steps in publishing national bibliographic data to This will be the topic of a future blog post.

“CLOCK will explore options for updating and maintaining the shared platform on as an eventual service”

University of Lincoln developer Alex Bilbie has blogged about the future of 5★ open data publishing at Lincoln: “As part of the Jerome project, we cracked open the university library’s digital catalogues and stored the data in a sane format (i.e. not MARC). Now through the CLOCK project the data will be semantically marked-up and compatible with other institutions bibliographic data“. This will also be the topic of a future blog post.

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