Earlier this Summer the Digital Public Library of America issued a request for submission to their Beta Sprint.
The Beta Sprint seeks, ideas, models, prototypes, technical tools, user interfaces, etc.—put forth as a written statement, a visual display, code, or a combination of forms—that demonstrate how the DPLA might index and provide access to a wide range of broadly distributed content. The Beta Sprint also encourages development of submissions that suggest alternative designs or that focus on particular parts of the system, rather than on the DPLA as a whole.
We signed up for this Sprint, and are now submitting for consideration our Open Bibliography work so far, and in particular our prototype instance of BibServer – bibsoup.net.
Our submission aims to demonstrate solutions to some of the needs of the DPLA by providing a method by which we can enable individuals and small groups to share and manage their bibliographic collections, and to put them to further use. By enabling conversion from various formats into BibJSON we can add value by providing faceted search across those collections, and by providing tools for using the content of those collections in other ways, such as embedding them in an online article, as demonstrated by our own Open Bibliography for Science, Technology and Medicine example.
The approach we are suggesting in this work is to engage with individuals and small groups by building the useful tools; rather than convincing people to use yet another service or another standard for storing or representing their metadata, we propose a minimalist format that enables these tools that incentivises people to parse and share their data, thereby increasing community engagement whilst creating a large (distributed or centralised) collection of records – the BibSoup.
At this stage, our product is still very much a beta; we have parsers for BibTex and CSV so far, but we are in the early days of speccing out the BibJSON and have issues still to complete. We will soon be able to provide parsers for alternative formats, as well as guidance on how to write parsers and submit them for inclusion in the BibServer software repository. We have been experimenting with indexing larger collections, and are continuing with further development; we hope that with a further year of development we can cement a BibJSON standard and develop production software.
All the software that we have developed is open source, and a great deal of content has been provided by various collaborators in our earlier projects. We extend our thanks to them, as well as to the people and organisations that have contributed to the various projects that have enabled us to get where we are today. We hope that some of these ideas are relevant, and that our future work can be of benefit to the development of the DPLA project.
Examples, links, resources:
- http://bibserver.org our project site, with further information about our earlier projects, collaborators and funders.
- http://openbiblio.net/2011/06/30/final-product-post-open-bibliography/ our previous project final report
- http://github.com/okfn/bibserver our open source code repository.
- http://bibsoup.net our example service; upload your BibTex collection and receive a faceted browse interface to it.
- http://bibserver.org/roadmap/open-bibliography-for-stm our article with embedded references returned from an index of BibJSON records. This article also explains our approach and aims in greater detail.
- http://bibsoup.net/static/index.html a jQuery plugin (FacetView) displaying an embeddable faceted search interface to the BibSoup content. (Not yet tested across all browsers.)
- http://test.cottagelabs.com/medline an example of the jQuery plugin operating over a larger index. (Not yet tested across all browsers.)