Networking and Meeting Folk

You might imagine that not a great deal is happening in the months leading up to a new networking initiative – but actually, quite a lot’s going on.  It’s just beneath the surface, like a duck paddling!

For example, yesterday I attended a meeting of librarians about collaborative collection management.  I was there with my librarian hat on.  (At this point, I must issue a health warning – be prepared for acronyms.  Librarianship is full of them!)  The meeting was followed by a workshop led by three colleagues from JISC.  It proved very interesting indeed – surprisingly interesting, since I imagined it was primarily for librarians whose collections are in Copac, and ours currently are not.  However, my interest was double-edged, because I could see that the application I was  being shown might actually be interesting to my researcher-self as well as in my role as a librarian.  What’s more, the facility clearly was of potential use to our library for stock management activities. Indeed, Copac will eventually be superceded by a newer, bigger database called the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (still with JISC), and that could offer fresh opportunities again.  However, I digress.

Now, JISC exists to ‘provide digital solutions for UK education and research’.  As such, it is the organisation running Copac – the great union catalogue of British university, research and national library collections.  It’s one of my go-to websites in many contexts, both professional and scholarly – I couldn’t do what I do without it.  Yesterday, we were learning about CCM tools, which is a new initiative from Copac.  The abbreviation stands for Copac Collections Management.  It’s a little bit tricky to find (it comes under ‘Innovations’ on the Copac website), but it’s basically a tool for librarians managing their physical book-stock, not something many scholars would be spending time on.

CCM isn’t a completely perfect fit for what I would like to do – which is to compare the whole huge corpus of historical British legal deposit music across between nine and eleven research libraries – because it works best with batches of ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers), which hadn’t been invented in the Georgian era!  CCM does also work on subject headings, though these are probably more relevant for print books than for music, which isn’t always keyword-indexed in catalogues.

However, Georgian era music is listed in another online resource, RISM, which begs the question, do any libraries routinely apply RISM numbers to historic British music publications?  If this category of music had RISM numbers, a CCM-type search of vast series of RISM numbers would reveal where the historical legal deposit libraries had the most or least repertoire in common.

In short, the historical legal deposit music of the United Kingdom and Ireland represents a vast, vast amount of metadata, but it exists in various places. The question is, how to bring it all together to get meaningful results.  And that means big data, with a vengeance.  This is something I’d love to develop into a much larger project in the future, having seen the work that the British Library has already done using an even more massive corpus of music metadata in their own collection.

nature-1242617_640So what did I do yesterday?  I networked!  Potential networkers can be found in a wide variety of places – not just academic departments or university libraries.  We need people with technical skills every bit as much as we do researchers and librarians.

This morning, I sat down to deal with a few emails.  By lunchtime, I’d done most of what I intended to do, but felt somewhat uneasy that all I had to show for my morning was a series of carefully-worded emails.  Until the glorious realisation dawned on me that actually, what I’d been doing was exactly what I’m supposed to be doing – networking and making connections.  From that point of view, today has been well-spent.  I’m forging new contacts, and building upon existing relationships with other people whom I hope will share my enthusiasm for this new network.