Relevant APIs for (digital) libraries

30. November 2007 um 14:50 5 Kommentare

My current impression of OCLC/WorldCat Service Grid is still far to abstract – instead of creating a framework, we (libraries and library associations) should agree upon some open protocols and (metadata) formats. To start with, here is a list of relevant, existing open standard APIs from my point of view:

Search: SRU/SRW (including CQL), OpenSearch, Z39.50

Harvest/Syndicate: OAI-PMH, RSS, Atom Syndication (also with ATOM Extensions)

Copy/Provide: unAPI, COinS, Microformats (not a real API but a way to provide data)

Upload/Edit: SRU Update, Atom Publishing Protocol

Identity Management: Shibboleth (and other SAML-based protocols), OpenID (see also OSIS)

For more complex applications, additional (REST)-APIs and common metadata standards need to be found (or defined) – but only if the application is just another kind of search, harvest/syndicate, copy/provide, upload/edit, or Identity Management.

P.S: I forgot NCIP, a „standard for the exchange of circulation data“. Frankly I don’t fully understand the meaning and importance of „circulation data“ and the standard looks more complex then needed. More on APIs for libraries can be found in WorldCat Developer Network, in the Jangle project and a DLF Working group on digital library APIs. For staying in the limited world if libraries, this may suffice, but on the web simplicity and availability of implementations matters – that’s why I am working on the SeeAlso linkserver protocol and now at a simple API to query availaibility information (more in August/September 2008).

P.P.S: A more detailed list of concrete library-related APIs was published by Roy Tennant based on a list by Owen Stephens.

P.P.S: And another list by Stephen Abram (SirsiDynix) from September 1st, 2009


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  1. Add CQL.
    And still important: Z39.50 even though it’s not „web“/HTTP.
    Identity Management: SAML and services using it (Shibboleth is one, but there are more, e.g. Liberty).

    Comment by till — 30. November 2007 #

  2. You are right, I changed the posting. SAML looks way to complex and reminds me on SOAP (which is bullshit for many simple applications), but I cannot judge because I do not know enough about it.

    Comment by jakob — 2. Dezember 2007 #

  3. You might also consider NCIP and, albeit ad hoc, John Blyberg’s PatREST (patron information via REST API).

    Comment by Peter Murray — 13. Januar 2008 #

  4. […] Federation (DLF) formed the “ILS Discovery Interface Task Force“, a working group on APIs for digital libraries. See their agenda and the current draft recommendation (February, 15th) for details [via Panlibus]. […]

    Pingback by Working group on digital library APIs and possible outcomes « Jakoblog — Das Weblog von Jakob Voß — 13. April 2008 #

  5. […] their official recommendation DAIA implements the GetAvailability method (section 6.3.1). There are numerous APIs for several tasks in library systems (SRU/SRW, Z39.50, OpenSearch, OAI-PMH, Atom, unAPI etc.) but […]

    Pingback by How to encode the availability of documents « Jakoblog — Das Weblog von Jakob Voß — 23. Oktober 2009 #

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