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[topicmaps] Alexander Johannesen on digital libraries

Alexander Johannesen talks about digital libraries. [Caveat: Live-blogging ahead.]

Libraries traditional have had ideals: To secure a significant record, meeting needs of users, access to collections, etc. He states “the bleeding obvious,” beginning with “Oonly the library can save us all.” Libraries are in a unique position. Libraries are trusted, they are the keepers of knowledge and order, librarians care about truth. Librarians are “nice but firm.” And it’s a global institution: Librarians from different cultures understand one another

But what will happen when we have digital books, he asks. The vendors are “small potatoes,” he says, which means they don’t have a lot of time or resource to refashion libraries and save the library world. The infrastructure is aging. There’s fear about the future. MARC is not the right format for the future. For one thing, it’s untyped and it’s unvalidated. And there’s no model except for the cataloging rules.

Topic maps are a perfect match, he says. They’re all about metadata, enable merging and sharing, provide a model, and a global identity.

What should libraries do? Jump in! Get past “not invented here.” Prototype big solutions. Grow “balls of steel.” [And ovaries of Formica? Jeez I hate the “balls” trope. d]

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