Casey Bisson from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire has quite an interesting project he will be working on shortly, namely marrying the Library of Congress Catalog to WordPress! He plans on developing out WP-OPAC, or an online catalog for libraries using WordPress. He was recently awarded a Mellon Foundation grant, and I imagine this project will draw increased attention to open source applications in the academic library world as well as new found attention for WordPress in the educational realm more generally. Below is part of a press release that was forwarded to me a few minutes ago:
WordPress is a popular format for blogsâ€”an open-source content management system. It is also the backbone for WP-OPAC, a pushing-the-envelope project from Casey Bisson, information architect at Plymouth State University (PSU), NH, which will use Library of Congress (LC) catalog records and redistribute them free under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license or GNU. Bisson was presented with a $50,000 Mellon award for Technology Collaboration for the project at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) meeting in Washington, DC, on December 4. PSU will use the money for the LC records. The WP-OPAC will allow users to tag and comment on records, which will be more readily searchable by search engines.
The still-emerging project represents a challenge to business as usual for catalogers. OCLC has been the source for catalog records for libraries, and its license restrictions do not permit reuse or distribution. However, LC catalog records have been shared via Z39.50 for several years without incident. “Libraries’ online presence is broken. We are more than study halls in the digital age. For too long, libraries have been coming up with unique solutions for common problems,” Bisson said. “Users are looking for an online presence that serves them in the way they expect.”
PSU is committed to supporting Bisson’s project, and will be offering it as a free download from its site, likely in the form of sample records plus WordPress with WP-OPAC included. The internal data structure works with iCal for calendar information and Flickr for photos, and can be used with historical records. It allows libraries to go beyond LC subject headings, Bisson said.
How about that! PSU is going to make the project freely available, and as an added bonus it will play nicely with Flickr! This is the real genius behind these open source experiments: one person can innovate within a rich community of open source development and create something extremely creative and useful while gaining recognition and cash money for his/her university! This innovation is essential for the future well-being of the educational world and it can rarely, if ever, be accomplished with closed, proprietary systems that integrate with coke machines. Congratulations Casey, this is a fantastic project!
Thanks for the link Charlotte, this is great stuff!