Wednesday, 4 July 2012

CALM User Testing

We organised a focus group session on Thursday 28th June at the Wellcome Trust to review progress so far on adapting the CALM backend to query external services and generate and store RDF. The meeting comprised a mix of CALM archivists and some professionals familiar with cataloguing processes. The main purpose of the meeting was to use a CALM 9.3 development environment to test the robustness of workflows for analysing catalogue and authority data; comment on the quality and sources of external data; and review improvements to the front end - CALMVIEW - that will publish appropriate service links. The CALMVIEW linking between test 9.3 installation and internet could not be configured on the day, as CALMVIEW development is still under way, but a screenshot of the AIM25 link was shown to the participants.

The underlying rationale is that Linked Data processing, sharing and exporting from CALM should become as normal and integral part of cataloguing as is possible - one that does not require an immense investment in additional work or process on the part of archivists, or a detailed, and unrealistically obtainable, technical knowledge of RDF.

The main workflow for analysis of sample Wellcome Library and Cumbria catalogues was tested out using the UKAT service, DBpedia and the BL British National Bibliography, to cover archival, biographical and bibliographical-type material. Key improvements/findings requested were:

  • Improved bulk analysis of records (to speed up processing)
  • Preview of the resolved multiple service returns before embedding (to overcome the problem of poor quality external data being selected or similar-sounding names of people and places being mistakenly chosen, or, for example, to preview and select the correct edition of a multi-edition printed publication)
  • The ability for archivists in the back end to refine and select only certain records for publication (necessary because some services only return dirty data or data strings, which are of little value to researchers)
  • Demarcation of front end presentation of Linked Data links from host catalogue data to minimise confusion as to the origin of the data source  
  • The need for the archive profession to agree to the creation of a priority list of Linked Data services that would be useful for professionals and users, such as the NRA and specialist vocabularies.
The focus group was followed by a meeting of the CALM User Group, at which CALM representatives outlined the release schedule.

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