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A Scientist and the Web


How much bibliography can we liberate in a month? Please help. Yes, you!

#jiscopenbib #okfn

This is a rapid post to launch our next virtual collaborative Open Liberation project. (I’m full up with other things over the next two days). Simply:

  • On November 11th Cameron Neylon and I will be presenting at RLUK (Research Libraries) on the Democratisation of Knowledge. He’s going to be showing how communities form and act on the Net and I’m going to following that with a real-collaborative experience.
  • Scholarship is currently shackled by the lack of Open bibliography. We can’t even make a collection of book titles or scientific articles without paralytic fear of breaking some copyright somewhere. So we’re going to solve that problem.
  • We need YOU.
  • You don’t have to be a cataloguer to create bibliography (lists of books and articles). [You don't have to be an astronomer to catalogue galaxies and that's at least as hard as books. You don't have to be a geographer or surveyor to create a Map (and that's at least as hard as reading the title pages of scientific articles).]
  • YOU can help us.

The goal is fairly simple. We now have 3 million records from the British Library catalogue. We are grateful to them for not only making them available but also making them CC0. Only CC0 or PDDL is really useful for Open Bibliography. CC-NC creates enormous downstream problems. Avoid it like the plague.

Ben O’steen is creating RDF from these records. All you need to know is that RDF is pretty powerful when in hands like Ben’s. It allows flexible and precise searches. So, in days, ben assures me that we shall be able to search the BL catalogue for bibliographic data. Titles, authors, publishers, ISBNs etc. Just open any modern book, flip about 1 or two pages and you’ll find the metadata.

This tells you if your book is in the 15% of the BL catalogue we’ve got.

Over the next 3 weeks we’ll see how many books we can find. We need your help. You don’t have to be an expert (you just need to know what a book is). You need enthusiasm and a degree of care.

And when you have found the book you’ll be able to flag up inconsistencies and omissions. No catalogue, even the BL, is completely free from errors. No map is free from errors. In this way we’ll help to support one of the great institutions of the world.

YOU can do it. And if there are enough of you then we can liberate bibliography. You can do it from anywhere in the world. You could be among the first to see the treasures of the BL’s bibliography.

This blog will flag up opportunities. But you should also join the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Just offer yourselves there.

7 Responses to “How much bibliography can we liberate in a month? Please help. Yes, you!”

  1. [...] Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Cambridge – How much bibliography can we liberate in a mo… – view page – cached How much bibliography can we liberate in a month? Please help. Yes, you! Tweets about this link [...]

  2. [...] from JISC who are working on an open bibliography project to unlock British Library data: Opening the knowledge base to all means more researchers can build [...]

  3. Congrats! 3M CC0 entries… that’s a serious start! Well done!

    Peter, what ontology is Ben going to use for the RDF?

  4. [...] will be attending the RLUK conference on the 10th to 12th November 2010, and he has issued a request for community involvement on his blog. Please have a read, and get in touch if you are interested in contributing. This [...]

  5. [...] The project is now moving into a phase of heavier development; the currently available datasets, and those that should soon become available, will provide the community with something to build on. With this in mind, Peter is taking part in the RLUK conference in November and has issued a request for community engagement. [...]

  6. How are people keeping track of what’s been checked? Is there an aggregation somewhere?

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