Monday, December 22, 2008

LCSH.info, RIP

LCSH.info, Ed Summers' presentation of Library of Congress Subject Headings data as Linked Data, has ended. As Ed explained:
"On December 18th I was asked to shut off lcsh.info by the Library of Congress. As an LC employee I really did not have much choice other than to comply."
I am not as up on or enthusiastic about Ed's Semantic-Web intentions, but the open-data implications are clear: the Library of Congress just took down public data. I didn't think things could get much worse after the recent OCLC moves, but this is worse. The Library of Congress is the good guy.

Jenn Riley put it well:
"I know our library universe is complex. The real world gets in the way of our ideals. ... But at some point talk is just talk and action is something else entirely. So where are we with library data? All talk? Or will we take action too? If our leadership seems to be headed in the wrong direction, who is it that will emerge in their place? Does the momentum need to shift, and if so, how will we make this happen? Is this the opportunity for a grass-roots effort? I'm not sure the ones I see out there are really poised to have the effect they really need to have. So what next?"
The time has come to get serious. The library world is headed in the wrong direction. It's wrong for patrons—and taxpayers. And it's wrong for libraries.

By the way, Ed, we're recruiting library programmers. The job description includes wanting to change the world.

See also: Panlibus.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Ivy said...

I can't believe this.

My library's subscription to ClassWeb (paid access to LCSH) expires every year in October. Every year in October we automatically send payment. Every year they shut off our access, saying that our subscription has expired. It takes us MONTHS to get it back--weeks just to get a live response from anyone at LOC and then only to be told that it will take several weeks to renew our subscription.
This year, over the months that I have been without ClassWeb, lcsh.info has saved me numerous times, basically by being available and accessible to look up subject headings and especially their relationships when ClassWeb was not. I do try using authorities.loc.gov, but lcsh.info gave me more of the information I needed, with a much easier and faster search interface.

I think if LOC might spend a little more effort into fulfilling their [paying!] customers' needs, lcsh.info wouldn't be the huge threat they seem to percieve it as.

I had to drop OSC, but isn't it time we started thinking about some sort of open-source public domain subject headings as well?

12/22/2008 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee. If someone outside the US were to obtain the data and purchase the domain name, then thumb their nose at the LoC, this problem would cease to exist.

12/22/2008 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Katya said...

You know, LT has a lot of the data needed to replicate the ClassWeb crosswalks. I'm just sayin'.

12/22/2008 8:32 PM  

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