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BIBFLOW was a two-year project (2013-2016) of the UC Davis University Library and Zepheira made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This research project investigated the future of library technical services, i.e., cataloging and related workflows, in light of modern technology infrastructure such as the Web and new data models and formats such as Resource Description and Access (RDA) and BIBFRAME, the new encoding and exchange format in development by the Library of Congress.

BIBFLOW’s focus was on understanding both the feasibility and impact of the adoption of Linked Data for library workers and work-flows.

BIBFLOW was a two-year project of the UC Davis University Library and Zepheira, funded by IMLS. Its official title is “Reinventing Cataloging: Models for the Future of Library Operations” and we are investigating the future of library technical services, i.e., cataloging and related workflows, in light of modern technology infrastructure such as the Web and new data models and formats such as Resource Description and Access (RDA) and BIBFRAME, the new encoding and exchange format in development by the Library of Congress. Our hypothesis is that, while these new standards and technologies are sorely needed to help the library community leverage the benefits and efficiencies that the Web has afforded other industries, we cannot adopt them in an environment constrained by complex workflows and interdependencies on a large ecosystem of data, software and service providers that are change resistant and motivated to continue with the current library standards (e.g. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (or AACR) and MARC. Research is required on how research libraries should adapt our practices, workflows, software systems and partnerships to support our evolution to new standards and technologies.

BIBFLOW is a research agenda and set of activities to advance our community’s understanding of the resource description landscape – the current and desired future state – and begin to develop a roadmap that the library community can reference for planning investments and changes over the coming years. The area of greatest focus for the project will be the academic library technical services processes, including acquisitions, licensing, cataloging, processing, digitizing, and so on. But we will also look at the impact of the new standards and technologies on related operations that rely on the same library data, such as circulation, interlibrary loan, and public catalogs. In fact, it is this interdependency across library functions that is the root of our difficulty with changing any part of our local environment for fear of damaging others; the many benefits achieved by consolidation on a single data format and software system (i.e., an Integrated Library System) has become a constraint on our flexibility in rapidly changing times, often requiring years of planning to replace a key software system or convert huge amounts of legacy data, and because technical services are the data engine that drives most other library functions and operations, so understanding its future will allow us to be more strategic about investments and planning for all of our activities.

As part of this research, we will be collaborating and communicating with partners across the library data ecosystem – key organizations like the Library of Congress and OCLC, library vendors, standards organizations like NISO, software tool vendors and commercial data providers, and other libraries that are trying to plan for change, such as the BIBFRAME “early experimenters”. While the project will not convene meetings or conferences that bring these partners together, we will leverage existing projects to do so (e.g. by NISO), coordinate with stakeholders virtually, and do extensive outreach to get feedback from the community on what we are learning. Through this combination of research, collaboration, and outreach, our project will create a roadmap for the community, and particularly academic research libraries, and is designed in such a way that, as the new data models, standards, workflows and practices emerge and evolve the roadmap can be continuously updated with new roads and milestones.

Senior Project Manager, Zepheira
Jean Gonzales

Jean Gonzales brings years of technology project management to the project. Jean has worked for a variety of technology companies over the years, and is an expert at keeping projects on task, on track, and on time.

Senior Software Engineer, Zepheira
Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee is a Senior Software Engineer with Zepheira. Combining years of software development experience with diverse skills in systems administration and graphic design, Ryan uses his skills to plan and shape large scale frameworks from low level systems configuration to implementation to the end user experience.

Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services, UC Davis Library
Xiaoli Li

Xiaoli Li has worked in both public and academic libraries and has a wide range of experience with cataloging. She is an active advocate for continuing education and a trainer for “Cataloging for the 21st Century,” a Library of Congress initiative. She has made numerous presentations and authored several journal articles on serials control. She chaired OCLC Post Pinyin Conversion Cleanup Project and planed several major projects for the libraries where she has worked, including Yale University Libraries, University of Washington Libraries, and most currently UC Davis. Xiaoli Li is currently Department Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services at the General Library of University of California, Davis. She is a member of UC Cataloging & Metadata Common Interest Group and has been actively involved in the UC Next Generation Technical Services Initiatives.

Partner, Zepheira
Kathy MacDougall

Kathy MacDougall is a Senior Business Architect with extensive, experience leading initiatives to help companies evaluate, manage and leverage their corporate data to increase revenues and uncover new business intelligence. Kathy has been implementing solutions using Semantic Web technologies since 2000.

President, Zepheira
Eric Miller

Eric Miller is the President of Zepheira. Prior to founding Zepheira, Eric led the Semantic Web Initiative for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT where he led the architectural and technical leadership in the design and evolution of the Semantic Web. Eric is a frequent and sought after international speaker in areas of International Web standards, knowledge management, collaboration, development and deployment.

University Librarian, UC Davis
MacKenzie Smith

MacKenzie Smith has been an academic research librarian since 1985, specializing in information technology and digital knowledge management. She worked at the libraries of Harvard University and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she played a leading role in helping those universities to adapt their libraries, research and teaching programs to the emerging technological landscape. Most recently, as Research Director for the MIT Libraries she led cutting-edge research projects in digital libraries and archives; Web applications for online scholarly communication; and digital data curation in support of e-science. She also led the development of the DSpace open source software platform for digital archives, now used by hundreds of universities world-wide and managed by a non-profit organization based in Cambridge.

Director of Digital Scholarship, UC Davis Library
Carl G Stahmer

Carl G Stahmer is the Director of Digital Scholarship at the UC Davis Library. He brings to the BIBFLOW project twenty year’s of experience in information architecture design and programming for the World Wide Web. In addition to his role at the UC Davis Library, Carl also currently serves as the Technical Lead for the English Short Title Catalogue and as the Associate Director of the English Broadside Ballad Archive.

Associate University Librarian for Sciences & Technical Services, UC Davis Library
Gail Yokote

Gail Yokote is responsible for leadership and management oversight for the sciences libraries and technical services (e.g. acquisitions, cataloging, preservation). The sciences libraries support the following schools and colleges at UC Davis: School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Biological Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, College of Engineering, Division of Physical Sciences within the College of Letters and Sciences. Gail also have oversight responsibility for collections in all disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and sciences), including the collections budget.