Volume 57, no. 1, 2019


 

The Role and Function of
National Bibliographies for Research


Eva-Maria Häusner & Ylva Sommerland
Guest Editors





Editorial


Original Articles


Bibliographic Data Science and the History of the Book (c. 1500-1800)

Leo Lahti, Jani Marjanen, Hege Roivainen & Mikko Tolonen

ABSTRACT: National bibliographies have been identified as a crucial resource for historical research on the publishing landscape, but using them requires addressing challenges of data quality, completeness, and interpretation. We call this approach bibliographic data science. In this article, we briefly assess the development of book formats and the vernacularization process in early modern Europe. The work undertaken paves the way for more extensive integration of library catalogs to map the history of the book.

KEYWORDS: National bibliography, data ecosystem, publishing history, digital humanities, open science


Metadata Collaboration between the Swiss National Library and Research Institutions in the Field of Swiss Historiography
Karin von Wartburg, Christiane Sibille & Christian Aliverti

ABSTRACT: This article presents examples of metadata collaborations between the Swiss National Library (NL) and research institutions in the field of Swiss historiography. The NL publishes the Bibliography on Swiss History (BSH). In order to meet the demands of its research community, the NL has improved the accessibility and interoperability of the BSH database. Moreover, the BSH takes part in metadata projects such as Metagrid, a web service linking different historical databases. Other metadata collaborations with partners in the historical field such as the Law Sources Foundation (LSF) will position the BSH as an indispensable literature hub for publications on Swiss history.

KEYWORDS: Bibliographic data - interoperability, case studies, cooperative cataloging, metadata, bibliographies


Introducing the National Library of Poland Descriptors to the Polish National Bibliography
Joanna Cieloch-Niewiadomska

ABSTRACT: The paper presents the new verbal indexing language (National Library of Poland Descriptors) used in Polish national bibliography. History and organization of Polish national bibliography as well as the context of other changes in the National Library of Poland are described. The paper provides information about National Library of Poland Descriptors main principles, and describes the steps that have been undertaken by subject specialists to improve the subject description of the national bibliography records, especially of its online version. The result of these changes is compared with recommendations for subject access in national bibliographies proposed by IFLA.

KEYWORDS: Verbal indexing language, national bibliography, subject access, National Library of Poland, online catalogue, subject librarians


Spatial Planning and its Need for National and Regional Bibliographies of Grey Literature
Christian Erlinger

ABSTRACT: National bibliographies provide interesting opportunities to search for new publications in specific scientific disciplines. This article gives an overview about the bibliographic potential of National Bibliographies in the German-speaking countries for spatial planning both in research and practice. Because grey literature plays an important role in technical disciplines, a national bibliography is a worthwhile source for information retrieval. Furthermore, this article includes a lightweight python-script to parse the bibliographic information from literature relevant to spatial planning and to measure the importance of grey literature using the SRU-API of the German National Library.

KEYWORDS: German national bibliography, spatial planning, spatial science, grey literature, information retrieval


Bibliography, National Bibliography, and National Union Catalog in Italy
Francesca Nepori & Fiammetta Sabba

ABSTRACT: This article analyzes the role of national bibliographies-with particular reference to the Italian National Bibliography—as relevant tools for national bibliographic control. In the first part of the article, the historical and scientific context of international standards is summarized. The second part describes the role played by the Central National Library of Florence (BNCF) in the realization of the bibliographic control of Italian publications. The limits and the potential of the Italian National Bibliography produced by BNCF are highlighted and compared with the Italian National Library Service (SBN), which is the most important national collective catalog among Italian libraries.

KEYWORDS: National libraries, Central National Library of Florence, Italian National Bibliography, Italian Library Service, legal deposit, national bibliographic control, Universal bibliographic control


Brief Biographies for Authors and Guest Editors

Christian Aliverti is Head of the Bibliographic Access Section of the Swiss National Library since 2008, and a member of the Management Board. He teaches principles of cataloguing to master students at the University of Zurich.

Joanna Cieloch-Niewiadomska is the Head of the Subject Cataloguing Department in the National Library of Poland. She obtained her master's degree in Philosophy and Polish Philology at Warsaw University.

Christian Erlinger is a systems librarian currently working at Vienna Public Libraries. He studied spatial planning, political and library and information sciences.

Leo Lahti, PhD, is adjunct professor at the University of Turku, Finland and senior researcher in the Helsinki Computational History Group. His research focus is on applied computational science and data analysis.

Jani Marjanen holds a PhD in history and is a researcher in the Helsinki Computational History Group. He specializes in the transformation of public discourse and conceptual history.

Francesca Nepori has studied at the University of Pisa and at the University of Genoa. Now she is archivist official at the State Archive of Massa of the Ministry of Heritage and cultural activities.

Hege Roivainen is an MA student of language technology at the University of Helsinki and a research assistant in the Helsinki Computational History Group.

Fiammetta Sabba is Dr. phil. in bibliographical, archival and documentary Sciences (University of Udine). She has studied at the University of Siena and at the University 'Sapienza' of Rome. Now she is Associate Professor at the Department of Cultural Heritage at University of Bologna.

Christiane Sibille studied History and Musicology at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. She currently works as project manager for "Digitale Innovation" at the research centre Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (Dodis) and coordinates the Metagrid project.

Mikko Tolonen is an assistant professor (tenure track) in digital humanities at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki. His background is in intellectual history and he is the PI of Helsinki Computational History Group (COMHIS).

Karin von Wartburg is a Swiss historian and scientific librarian. She worked for 13 years at the Swiss National Library. In October 2018 she joined a unit of the Parliamentary Library of The Federal Assembly as Head of Information Governance.


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Editorial


The Role and Function of National Bibliographies for research

Eva-Maria Häusner & Ylva Sommerland


In this special issue, the subject of national bibliographies is presented from a user perspective, limited to the role and function of national bibliographies for research. Prior to being guest editors for this special issue, we wrote an article where we examined if the metadata quality of the Swedish National Bibliography could be measured through mapping the level of user awareness regarding the characteristics of the data.1 We did not hesitate a minute when we were invited to act as guest editors for this special issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly.

More than ten years ago, Ingrid Parent described the characteristics of a national bibliography in the following way: "Among the characteristics of a national bibliography are that it provides a current, timely, comprehensive and authoritative list of all titles published in a country, it provides a record of their existence, and it identifies them unambiguously."2 Only a few years earlier the theories of the Semantic Web and linked data had been formulated.

Today, one key argument for assuring the quality of national bibliographies is that the data needs to be published with an open license and published as open linked data. For national bibliographies it is crucial to take this into consideration to secure possibilities for future collaborations between national libraries and other agencies working with cultural heritage. This is a criterion that needs to be added to Parent's four characteristics of a national bibliography. Linking national bibliographic data into the Semantic Web paves the way for a new seamless use of the data that will benefit users.3 All bibliographic data has to be configured into a format that makes it possible to share and reuse in collaboration with metadata producers and users outside the limited domain of the library discourse.4 Data transparency is central for achieving user awareness and closely connected to reliability, i.e., knowledge about where the data originates, how it is produced, and how to use it.5 This is crucial to enable future collaborations between national libraries and other agencies working with cultural heritage data. For user awareness to continue into the future it is vital that national bibliographic data is linked to the Semantic Web.6

The World Wide Web is a web of linked documents, while the Semantic Web is a web of linked data. With linked data the bibliographic record is broken into data elements identified by URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) or IRIs (Internationalized Resource Identifiers) that can be accessed and reused on the Web in new machine-readable contexts and combinations created by new liaisons. Therefore, an open national bibliography is actually not just a national bibliography anymore. The open national bibliography is not only usable for research on publication patterns but the bibliographic data potentially includes historical perspectives on societal and cultural developments and changes, enabling the identification of both national patterns and international patterns. In this sense the open national bibliography bears the role of a memory bank. At the very least, the Semantic Web opens up the national bibliography beyond the limitations of the national context. Of course, this affects the role and function of national bibliographies for research. The bibliographic data is not merely usable for validating references, for citations in research publications, or accessing research material, but also plays an important role in quantitative research methods using bibliographic data as a source for investigating publication patterns. For example in text analyses, data curation is an important part of handling the data for statistical purposes.

National bibliographies are a valuable source for researchers since the data is curated, comprehensive, and authoritative. Bibliographic data, and certainly national bibliographic data, is actually already in some sense curated. However when using the data any inconsistency always calls for some effort of data curation by the researchers themselves before being able to use it to its full potential.

The articles in this special issue cover a span from presenting methods for manually developing the quality of national bibliographic data demanding subject specialists, to suggestions of algorithms for curating, cleaning, and searching the data, but also the importance of user awareness regarding the characteristics of national bibliographic data. The articles point to different paths for future developments to improve the quality and relevance of national bibliographic data for researchers.

The authors of the article Bibliographic Data Science and the History of the Book (c. 1500-1800) introduce a new concept for statistical analyses of bibliographic data using data-driven analyses-Bibliographic Data Science (BDS). This is a new conceptualization for using bibliographic data for quantitative research and suggests methods to curate the data.

Metadata collaborations between national bibliographic agencies and governmental and research institutions are presented in the article "Meta Data Collaboration between the Swiss National Library and Research Institutions in the Field of Swiss Historiography." The article presents a project where the Swiss National Library integrates their Bibliography of Swiss History with Metagrid, an online network of Swiss humanities resources.

The relationship of national bibliographic data to metadata from national union catalogs is also highlighted in this issue. User awareness regarding the characteristics of national bibliographic data is important for using it as a source for research. In the article "Bibliography, National Bibliography, and National Union Catalogue in Italy," the role and functions of bibliographies compared with the role and functions of national bibliography and national catalog are discussed. In striving to fulfill the timeliness criteria suggested by Parent, a current national bibliography stays in conflict with upholding the time-consuming criteria of authority and comprehensiveness.

"Introducing the National Library of Poland Descriptors to the Polish National Bibliography" presents a project about the development of "the new verbal indexing language" with the aim to secure an up-to-date renewal of subject headings with researchers as subject experts.

The article "Spatial Planning and its Need for National and Regional Bibliographies of Grey Literature" is written from the perspective of the needs of a researcher in a specific scientific discipline which is dependent upon grey material. Grey materials are commonly not described in national bibliographies. Furthermore, grey materials are generally not described with the same granularity as national bibliographic material.

In summary, the articles chosen for this special issue investigate questions around why and how a national bibliography is a relevant choice of source material for researchers and focuses on user perspectives of national bibliographies from a researcher's viewpoint. The contributions examine national bibliographies as a source of data used for research from the perspectives of researchers as well as from the perspectives of practical applications by the national bibliographic agencies themselves.

It could be argued that the library perspective-experts developing rules and updating concepts to describe publication data to increase its value-is becoming less valid when publications are transmitted into the digital environment. But it is still necessary. The potential use of national bibliographic data has been reformulated and strengthened in line with the need for curated data. The value, function, and use of national bibliographies for data is inevitably reborn and reevaluated in the environment of the Semantic Web; this makes way for combining national bibliographic data with external data sets as part of quantitative analyses. Indeed, the role of national bibliographies for research has broadened with digitalization.


Notes

1. Eva-Maria Häusner & Ylva Sommerland (2018), "Assessment of Metadata Quality of the Swedish National Bibliography through Mapping User Awareness," Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 56, no. 1 (2018): 96-109, DOI:10.1080/01639374.2017.1370055

2. Ingrid Parent, "The Importance of National Bibliographies in the Digital Age," paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 73rd IFLA General Conference and Council, August 19-23, 2007, Durban, South Africa. http://archive.ifla.org/IV/ifla73/papers/089-Parent-en.pdf (accessed January 25, (accessed January 25, 2019).

3. Elisabeth Niggemann, "The Importance of Open Data to National Libraries," paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 78th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, August 11-17, 2012, Helsinki, Finland. http://www.ifla.org/past-wlic/2012/181-niggemann-en.pdf (accessed January 25, 2019).

4. Jürgen Kett, Sarah Beyer, Mathias Manecke, Yvonne Jahns, and Lars G. Svensson, "The Deutsche Nationalbibliografie as Linked Open Data: Applications and Opportunities," paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 78th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, August 11-17, 2012, Helsinki, Finland. https://www.ifla.org/past-wlic/2012/215-kett-en.pdf (accessed February 1, 2019).

5. Jürgen Kett, Mathias Manecke, and Sarah Beyer, "Die Nationalbibliografie im Zeitalter des Internets," Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 59 (2012): 67-79.

6. Niggemann, "The Importance of Open Data to National Libraries."


Guest editors

Ylva Sommerland works as a librarian at the National Bibliography Division at the National Library of Sweden. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies.

Eva-Maria Häusner works as a librarian at the Collection and Research Development Division at the National Library of Sweden.



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