So OCLC’s WorldCat Registry is a nice new addition to OCLCs growing list of web services. Do a search for your library and take a look at the URL: aye that’s right it’s SRU. In fact do a view source on the results page and you’ll see an SRU response in XML–the HTML is being rendered with client side XSLT.
If you drill into a particular institution you’ll see a pleasantly cool uri:
Just as an experiment I tried pointing it at my delicious json feed for metadata. It turns out that exhibit wants json data to be a hash with a key ‘items’ that points to a list of items. In addition it also wants each item to have a ‘label’ key. I quickly reformatted the delicious json with simplejson, and got this.
A few minutes later I prodded the simile folks to see if there is a way of filtering json data on the way into exhibit so that it can be normalized…time passes (like maybe an hour) and then I hear from Johan Sundström that the latest/greatest exhibit code has this sort of filtering built in!
But I’d like to indicate that the date, edition and page parameters are optional. After reading the spec and some discussion it becomes clear that there is no way to indicate that part of the path is optional. OpenSearch addresses the issue to some extent by making parameters optional with ‘?’:
Which seems to be what I want. But there are some wrinkles such as when a page is included without a date. But perhaps these details could be application specific?
The discussion seemed to indicate that the template could be bundled with a written description of how the parameters are to be used. Or instead an additional template specification for optionality could be created which references the URI Template spec. There were also some nods towards WADL, which apparently has some richer conventions for this sort of thing.
Authority files are rather important for unambiguously talking about a person, place or thing. In database lingo they essentially amount to a primary key for a table. Given the time and effort libraries spend in maintaining authority records and assigning control numbers to individuals it makes sense that a URI could be assigned to an individual in such authority files. I realize this idea is nothing new, but until recently I hadn’t seen it put into practice particularly well.
So now we know who this identifier is for, and the established heading for the individual. But it gets better (or worse depending on your perspective). Since this is an OAI-PMH server you can issue a ListMetadataFormats request to see what other flavors this record might be available in. If you do you’ll find out that this record is also available as marcxml in all its unholy glory (if you follow that link your browser will use a stylesheet to turn the raw xml into something a bit more presentable). Putting aside my snideness about MARC for a moment, this is a lot of useful data being made available.
You can also search the name authority file and get relevant PURLs via a SOAP/REST service. For example the irc bot panizzi in #code4lib actually has a bit of logic that allows it do lookups in the linked authority file:
06:56 < edsu> @naf borges, jorge
06:56 < panizzi> edsu: [20 matches] [~1] Borges, Jorge Luis, 1899-
<http://errol.oclc.org/laf/n79-7035>; [~2] Macedo, Jorge
Borges de. <http://errol.oclc.org/laf/n82-149895>; [~3]
Borges, Jorge G. (Jorge Guillermo), 1874-1938
<http://errol.oclc.org/laf/n90-681877>; [~4] Sua?rez Lynch, B.
<http://errol.oclc.org/laf/n82-21644>; [~5] Borges, Jorge
Wheliton Miranda <http://errol.oclc.org/laf/n92-76758>; [~6]
Canido Borges, Jorge Oscar (3 more messages)
All in all it’s an impressive mix of technology, standards and practice. It is not entirely clear to me how this work relates to the Virtual International Authority File. Perhaps LAF wasn’t considered a good acronym? If you are interested in such things Thom Hickey had a really interesting talk at Access2006 which has audio available.
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