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JISC Open Biblographic Data Guide

From: Owen Stephens <owen@ostephens.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2010 16:05:57 +0000
Message-ID: <AANLkTi=U0jLSzctHTLvfPhvX3wLXu6X7jHKGAFhu598r@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-lld@w3.org
I think some on the list will have seen the announcement of a new JISC
resource - the Open Bibliographic Data Guide http://obd.jisc.ac.uk/, and
there has been some off-list discussion resulting in this post to outline
the why and how of the guide.

The guide was commissioned by JISC - to quote Andy McGregor (JISC Programme
Why are libraries around the world devoting time and resources to releasing
their bibliographic data under an open licence? Whatís in it for them and
what are the costs and practical issues involved? JISCís purpose for this
guide is to try and provide some answers to these questions and to help
academic librarians think about the potential implications for their own

One of the possibilities that open bibliographic data offers is the chance
for libraries and indeed anyone to reuse the data to build innovative
services for researchers, teachers, students and librarians. JISC will be
exploring these possibilities through the work of the Resource Discovery
Task Force.
Andy has also written a slightly more extensively on the topic in this blog

So - JISC commissioned David Kay, Paul Miller and me to write a guide -
aimed principally at the academic sector - to inform decisions about
producing Open Data. Note that the guide is not about Linked Data
specifically, but rather focuses on Open Data. However, it does include a
Linked Data 'use case' (see below) at

The approach David, Paul and I took was to look at the issues through a
number of 'use cases' - essentially these were scenarios which might occur,
or might be similar to existing activity - and pose the question 'what would
be the result of doing this with Open Data'. Some of the scenarios are very
general ('publish data') and some quite specific 'allow commericial use of
data in a mobile application'.

With 17 use cases in all, this is a lot of material, so we wanted to make it
possible to view the guide through different facets. To aid this, the use
cases are all structured into to 7 sections (with each section broken down
into a number of subsections). This enables you to view a subset of the
guide by selecting one or more use cases, and one or more sections from the
navigation page:


While this approach gives flexibility, we recognised that it may also be
difficult to decide where to start with these options, so we built in three
'filtered' views that you can apply from any point in the guide. These are
Institutional, Library Service and Implementation. You see these options as
you navigate the guide, and if you click one it will present only the
relevant parts of the the usecases you are currently viewing. We labelled
this 'Switch Focus' (not 100% happy with that but we couldn't think of a
better term!). The 'institutional' view is meant to only contain information
that might be of interest to people at the institutional managerial level,
the 'library service' view is meant to include relevant data for library
managers, and the 'implementation' view is aimed at people who might be
tasked to actually making it happen. We had initially thought of offering
these as a starting point for people entering the guide - that is 'only show
me stuff relevant to me as a library manager' type option, but eventually
decided this was a bit prescriptive and so offer it as an option from within
the guide.

A final navigation option is via some pre-set pathways at
http://obd.jisc.ac.uk/pathways-and-connections - which allow you to see
groups of related usecases (as selected by us of course). This page also
shows off one of the neat (I think!) facilities of the guide - which is each
view of the guide can be referred to by a URL - which can of course be
bookmarked, shared, etc. For example:


Note this not only displays these 5 use cases, but also shows them in the
specified order - so is different to
http://obd.jisc.ac.uk/?usecases=uc2-2,uc4,uc7,uc9,uc11 (well I was rather
proud of that anyway!). We've included bookmarking tools on each view, so
you can easily share views via Delicious, Twitter, etc.

The guide is then finished off with some top level/introductory documents
which set context around rights/licensing/open data.
Each 'subsection' (generally a paragraph) support comments - so users can
add comments at this level - and we hope that to some extent this will help
the guide be a living resource - you can keep track of comments at
http://obd.jisc.ac.uk/comments/feed (RSS)

If you are still with me, just a few words about the technical stuff:

The guide is built using WordPress, using a custom theme developed (by me)
specially for the guide, a few plugins (all generally available except the
one to achieve the 'switch focus' functionality), and custom taxonomies.
These together enable the ability to create very flexible views of the
guide. Each subsection of the guide is a wordpress 'post' then tagged using
custom taxonomies to belong to a specific section, a specific 'focus' and a
specific usecase. All the views of the resource are built from these
individual posts using the tags. I should also acknowledge the great work by
Dan Moat at http://www.tahninial.com/ who did all the stylesheet work on the
site, and generally helped us make it look good :)

Sorry for going on - I'm very happy to answer questions around the guide -
either about the approaches we took conceptually or how we realised it


Owen Stephens
Owen Stephens Consulting
Web: http://www.ostephens.com
Email: owen@ostephens.com
Received on Thursday, 25 November 2010 16:06:31 UTC

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