8 February 2010

OCLC API mashathon

Some of us went into this with trepidation believing our coding skills were on the too-skimpy side for this session, but we joined the programmers for an interesting day being introduced to the data available via the APIs (application programming interfaces) that OCLC publishes for Worldcat data.

Web services looked at included:
  • WorldCat Search API
  • WorldCat Identities
  • Registries including institution, reviews, citations (lists), tagging
  • Terminologies
So what you may ask!
There is a wealth of data that can be used to enhance library catalogues and other interfaces. One of the attendees showcased what he had done at the Powerhouse Museum using OpenCalais and OCLC data. OpenCalais was used to extract names and terms from textual descriptions which were then queried against OCLC data to add links to Worldcat Identities data.

Using Yahoo Pipes attendees were able to build a Worldcat search which returns results in an RSS feed using the Worldcat Basic API, and later looked at other exciting possibilities using Dewey Info Linked Data and the yet to be launched geolocation data. The idea that popped into my mind was to facilitate a map-based search of a library catalogue. Imagine looking for historical or political works about a region using a map interface. Zoom into the map to select the region, return an array of book covers that can be flicked through (imagining cooliris effect here) to get a virtual browsing the shelf effect. I'm sure almost everyone at the bootcamp came away with a germ of an innovation developing.
Thanks Roy, Bruce and Don for an informative and enjoyable day. Too bad we couldn't follow up tomorrow with some group work to prototype some of the ideas.

Powerhouse Museum example
Wiki page for bootcamp.

yahoo pipe setup