Talking at Cambridge University Library on Openness and Libraries

JANUARY 25, 2010

This Wednesday (27th of January) at 1pm I’m giving one of Cambridge University Library’s regular lunch-time talks on Openness and Libraries. Attendance is free and anyone can come along!

Update (28th Jan): talk is done and slides are now up.


Over the past few years, open licensing ( has facilitated the explosive growth of a ‘knowledge commons’. To give a few prominent examples: Open Access journals, Open Educational Resources and Open Data in scientific research have all been enabled by licenses which permit material to be freely re-used and re-distributed. This outpouring of support for openness has led to an incredible rise in community-led development and innovative uses.

Bibliographic records are a key part of our shared cultural heritage and essential to anyone working with cultural materials (books, music, films etc). Opening up those records for access and re-use offer a variety of benefits.

First, it would allow libraries to share records more efficiently and improve quality more rapidly through better, easier feedback. Second, easier access to catalogue data would spur development of the multifarious services, technologies and research that use that data, including, for example, search engines, book or music websites, researchers working on information production, journalists writing on orphan works, as well as many other areas we cannot even imagine in advance.

With a growing number of Government agencies and public institutions making data open, is is now time for the library community to do likewise?