a dream work: online counter for new species...

David Remsen dremsen at MBL.EDU
Thu Feb 19 12:01:30 CST 2004

The idea of an OCLC-like model for some intersection with the taxonomic
world has been a part of the conversations of the uBio project for some
time as our effort is oriented toward the library community.    The
most compelling features of this would be the preservation and
attribution of credit to contributors to a given name record while
promoting multiple use of that information.  Clearly, any subsequent
use of someone's intellectual effort should be imparted back to the
contributor. This model eliminates duplication in cases of factual
information and gives credit where credit is due.

OCLC is used by over 45,000 libraries in 84 countries ranging from the
Library of Congress to rural public libraries.  It is, in fact, the
largest operating consortium in the world.   The scope of the database
is factual bibliographic information.  Any participating library can
enter a record and if it matches the criteria of a title and it isn't
cataloged in the database --  it goes in. There are over 54 million
records and an new record is added every 12 seconds.  It works because
there is a benefit to contributors.  The benefits I can construe

1. Ownership of the Material ( book, serial, cassette, cd, etc.) is
attached to the record with a library's identifying symbol.
2. Benefit in acquiring the record for their own data system.
Resources are not spent on duplication.
3. Community resources are cataloged.  Instances of the title within
multiple library catalogs are linked via the record identifier.  This
creates increased visibility of that instance.
4. Contribution to the record and subsequent acknowledgement.

Titles are part of any library catalog.  If Library A is the first to
catalog it, they add the record to the OCLC database -- then they
extract it so it becomes part of their own catalog.   The record is
shared worldwide but used locally. A hierarchical quality-assessment
tag is part of the record relating to the contributor.  If the Library
of Congress subsequently catalogs this book they don't create a new
record but they may amend the record to meet their own
quality-standards before they utilize it.  An audit trail is also an
accreditation pathway.

Names are part of any taxonomic information system. They are also
critical search and retrieval elements within biological information
resources.  When we publish an online biological resource of any kind
we are faced with a common name-cataloging exercise akin to a library
cataloging it's title collection.

I could imagine something similar for names where common factual
elements are cataloged once in a community-based resource that multiple
and independent information systems utilize for common data elements.
The scope is an accounting of all recorded names.   Anyone who
contributes to the accrued value of that record is credited whenever
that information is utilized.  Cataloged elements are limited to
consensus factual data that are of value to any data system to promote
multiple use.   This scheme leaves contentious elements as part of
systems operating at higher levels but still able to utilize these
common resources.  A model that allows an initiative like ours to share
the same basic and factual nomenclature elements with other,
independent initiatives is something we are very interested in
David Remsen
uBio Project Developer
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA 02543

More information about the Taxacom mailing list