Posts Tagged ‘library of congress’


LAWDI 3: Good Linking Practices for Bibliographic Stuff

June 13, 2012

While the following were informed by conversations and presentations at LAWDI, they should be considered my opinions only, and I welcome any (polite!) discussion of why my ideas are wrong-headed  in comments.

So, you’re a scholar putting up information online, and you don’t have the time or IT chops to start learning how to implement RDFa or learn a specialized linked open data vocabulary. The following are some ideas of things you can do that are linked open data friendly, with an emphasis on providing links to stable, authoritative, easy to use URLs. This post covers bibliographic items (secondary scholarship).

I want to emphasize that doing all this linking is work; it takes time. I’ve been trying to link more thoroughly in my blog posts about LAWDI, and it does add to the time burden of writing blog posts. I urge readers to strive to include more (good-quality) links in the things they post online, but please don’t feel guilty if you can’t do it all. Do what you can; every bit is a piece toward our common goals.


  • Link to a WorldCat record using the OCLC number. Permalink URLS are linkable from records and can be created using the format .
    WorldCat is my top choice because 1) it welcomes links, 2) it’s the largest and most international open linkable library catalog. Note: sometimes if you look a book up by title you’ll find multiple OCLC records with multiple OCLC numbers, even though you’re looking at the same book, not even different editions. OCLC and its members are probably working to tidy this sort of thing and merge (or at least cross-reference) duplicate records. For now, pick the one that has the largest number of libraries showing in the list in your home/target country (there will often be one US record and one European record, for example.)
  • Link to the US Library of Congress using an LCCN (Library of Congress Call Number).  Permalink URLS are shown in records and can be created using the format (useful, since many books have the LCCN in print on the inside.)
    Using the Library of Congress is a fine choice; it’s my second choice because it is US-centric (while WorldCat is working on becoming more international) and the Library of Congress records don’t have the enhancements that WorldCat records do (ability to display holdings in libraries near you, ability to provide a link to online booksellers, etc.)
  • I would not bother linking to, for example, Amazon using an ISBN. WorldCat links using OCLC are more useful in my opinion, and as easy to create.
  • Including the ISBN in a citation can be useful; there are some great browser plug-ins that can identify ISBNs in web pages and link users to libraries or online booksellers (for example, LibX or Book Burro).

Digital Books

  • If a book is available in an open-access digital edition, by all means include a link to that, preferably in addition to a link to a WorldCat record for the print edition. For open-access digital books you have two strong choices, neither the clear winner yet in my opinion.
  • Link to the Open Library record. URLs look like this:
    Open Library is the more linked data friendly solution; each record can be downloaded in RDF and JSON. Records also include linked OCLC numbers and LCCNs. The full-text books can be downloaded in a bunch of different formats, from .pdf to MOBI, and also also readable online.  Open Library is part of the Internet Archive, and is a “born-open” project. They currently only have about 1 million open-access books, though, and their records aren’t as scholar-friendly – they don’t have all the features of  library catalog records (though they are based on them.)
  • Link to the Hathi Trust record. URLs look like this:
    Hathi Trust’s records have library-provided bibliographic data and they have a large collection (3 million plus) of open-access volumes (as well as many more digital volumes not open-access; availability of formats can also be an issue). They are backed by a bunch of big academic libraries and are likely to stick around. They have an API, but are not as linked-data friendly as Open Library.
  • I would not bother linking to a Google Books record unless you can’t find a match at either of the previous places. Google Books has great content, but their metadata is lacking, and they are a for-profit company who cannot guarantee a future commitment to free open-access products.

Book Chapters

  • For print-only book chapters, right now you’d do best to link to the whole book.
  • Ditto for book chapters available in full-text digitally, unless you can track down .pdfs at the author’s web site or, for example.

Journal Articles

  • Link to the DOI of the article – a long unique number appended in even print citations – using the format . Participating publishers have committed to maintaining access to articles via DOIs in perpetuity, even as their online platforms may change. (Remember, though, a lot of the articles are available by subscription only; many who follow the link will get an abstract but not full-text if their institution does not subscribe.)
  • Available digitally but doesn’t have a DOI? Look for a stable URL or permalink at the page with the article citation. Jstor does a good job with these ( but so do many other large commercial article databases.
  • Available digitally but not directly linkable? (This might be the case with an article published in a 19th century journal that has been digitized by the volume, but without the individual articles indexed, or an online-only journal with poor linkability.)  Link to the record for the journal in a repository like Hathi Trust or Open Library (above), or to the home page of the online journal, if articles cannot be directly linked.
  • Print-only? (Lots of journal articles still are, especially older, smaller, or foreign ones). Link to the WorldCat record for the whole journal, using the OCLC number or ISSN if there is one: .

Questions? Quibbles? Cases I missed? Ask in comments.

Previous posts here on LAWDI:

Collection of blog posts and other  resources from LAWDI:


On Classification

August 3, 2010

One of the joys of holding a weekly office hour in a department is the accidental conversations that emerge when you run into students or faculty by chance.  Today Chuck Platter and I brainstormed a bit about what we might accomplish with a visit from me to his graduate-level Greek Prose class.  We talked about serendipity and the discovery of scholarly materials, and he brought up the Warburg Library, of which I should probably be ashamed to say I had never heard (except that as a teacher and librarian, my personal motto is that one shouldn’t be ashamed about what one doesn’t (yet) know – one should be inspired to learn about new things!)

Most academic libraries in the US use the Library of Congress (“LC”) classification system to order their books.  When I worked at Duke, that library still used the Dewey Decimal classification, most familiar to users of US public libraries.  Duke converted to LC while I worked there (a massive undertaking very neatly accomplished, if I who was a small gear in the process may be permitted to say so.)  It was fascinating to watch the books move about and regroup as they changed from Dewey to LC – some books that had been shelf-mates stayed so, and some ended up at opposite ends of the call number range.

As a former archaeologist, I have long known that classification is almost always a scheme imposed by the scholar on the material.  While the goal is to ‘carve nature at its joints,’ it is sometimes not clear at all where the joints lie, and even those who think they see clearly are bringing intellectual and cultural preconceptions about the nature and existence of joints to the material in question.  It is the same in library science, but of course print books must go somewhere, so one has to decide whether a Roman culinary treatise should go with latin literature or ‘cookery’ (which Subject Term was recently eliminated from the LC Headings as too old-fashioned, although I kind of love it.)

Back to the Warburg Library.  It is associated with the Warburg Institute at the University of London, and originated as the personal library of its namesake, Aby Warburg, a German scholar of the history of art.  Its classification scheme has four major headings: Action – Orientation – Word – Image.  The graphic below helps illustrate more clearly what these mean.

Within these  larger categories are sub-headings, with 3-letter “Classmarks” for individual topics. Thus KNN is Roman Mosaics and Painting, and there’s a list of books in classification order available through the online catalog.  The books are almost certainly in a different arrangement that they would be if the same books were shelved according to the LC classification.

Discovery is an important part of scholarship, and looking at familiar things with a new slant can be revealing.  I always encourage graduate students who are accustomed to doing online searches for books to browse the library stacks instead (or “also”) – they will find some of the same things they discovered in the online catalog, but new things as well, and the juxtapositions can be revealing or thought-provoking.  So the opportunity to view a collection of books classified in the Warburg scheme can spark new ideas for scholarship or lead to the discovery of works you’d never run across before – because at your university, some of them were shelved with the cookbooks, in the Science Library.

A note for UGA faculty and students, I am holding my Fall 2010 Office Hours from 1-2pm on Tuesdays in Park Hall 222 – the newly rearranged Alexander Room.  The carpet was cleaned, and the tables have been put back in such a way as to make the room look 6 feet wider.  I, at least, am seeing the space with fresh eyes!