I had the opportunity to present at the ALCTS Holdings Information Committee and Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee session at ALA Midwinter 2013 in Seattle. This session, titled “Linked Data for Holdings and Cataloging: the first step is the hardest,” started with Eric Miller from Zepheira discussing the use of Linked Data from a holdings perspective in the Bibframe model. Then Richard Wallis from OCLC presented on Linked Data from a cataloging perspective.
The second half of this session (which is the focus of this article) was dedicated to presenting some real life examples of what a couple of librarians were able to accomplish by using some of their data in Viewshare. Viewshare is a free service provided by the Library of Congress that allows users to import their own metadata in order to create custom and unique interfaces. Those working with Viewshare for this presentation were new to the platform and were able to put their projects together in a matter of minutes.
Violeta Ilik, Continuing Resources Cataloging Librarian from Texas A&M University, first showed how she was able to load data about faculty members from the Math Department at Texas A&M into Viewshare and then create some interesting interfaces to display that data through lists, pie charts, timelines, and a photo gallery.
The second presentation on a project using Viewshare was presented by me (Jeremy Myntti, Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library). In my project with Viewshare, I used some metadata from one of our digital collections (Western Soundscape Archive) and created a map, some pie charts, and tag clouds to display the data. A major reason that I chose to work with this collection was that we have already been able to create some unique user interfaces with some basic hierarchical browsing and different map interfaces. Now using Viewshare, I wanted to see if there were additional things that we could do to present the collection to our users.
Throughout my presentation, I included screenshots that documented the process that I went through to create the collection, including exporting the data from CONTENTdm, manipulating it in Excel, loading it into Viewshare, augmenting the data with Viewshare tools, and creating user interfaces.
After completing this little project with Viewshare, there are a couple of major things that I took away. First off, it is never too late to audit your metadata. By loading and then playing around with a few of the views in Viewshare, I was able to see some of our metadata that is missing or that needs to be cleaned-up due to a number of inconsistencies such as the capitalization or spelling of different terms.
I also learned that it is not hard to use existing data in new ways. Playing around with tools like Viewshare can give you new ideas on ways to present your data which could help users more readily discover our collections. Using Viewshare was also very easy and user friendly, requiring no knowledge of programming, interface design, or linked data. If simple tools like Viewshare can help us move more towards a linked data environment, then we don’t need to be afraid of what might be coming in the future.
If you are interested in my presentation, you can view it on Slideshare. I have also included links to the Western Soundscape Archive and the Viewshare interface that I was able to create for a subset of this collection.