A productive week at Geo4LibCamp 2017

Geo4LibCamp is a hands-on meeting to bring together those building repository and associated services for geospatial data to share best practices, solve common problems, and address technical issues. We met at Stanford University for the second Geo4LibCamp unconference from January 30 until February 3, 2017. Nearly 50 attendees from 30 institutions participated in the main three day event, and about 20 attendees for the two day post-conference working sessions. The institutions were primarily academic research libraries -- Alberta, Arizona State, California State, Chicago, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State, Colorado at Boulder, Connecticut State Library, Cornell, Data Curation Experts, Mapzen, Michigan, Minnesota, Moss Landing Marine Labs, Nebraska at Lincoln, New York U, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Princeton, Purdue, Rice, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and Yale.

On Monday, Stace Maples (Manager of the Stanford Geospatial Center) kicked off the event emphasizing libraries' role to collect, protect, transform, serve geospatial data, and asked what, if any, social contract should we have for our software within our community. We then pitched and voted on the 10 unconference sessions and scheduled them for Tuesday and Wednesday. In the afternoon, we had invited talks from Princeton, the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project (Minnesota and Michigan), and Cornell, and then lightning talks from several participants.

On Tuesday we toured the David Rumsey Map Center whose collection has some 150,000 maps. Christy Hyman presented her engaging work on creating a map-based digital narrative called "The Oak of Jerusalem," and we had a panel discussion on creating index maps to improve discovery of geospatial works, especially digitized sheet maps. In the afternoon, we discussed a roadmap for building a geospatial repository that included all of the key services needed, such as unique identifiers and preservation. We also continued our discussion of index maps and started a collaborative sharing project called OpenIndexMaps on GitHub where we hope to standardize on best practices and a index map format, as well as build a collection of index maps to share. Finally, we discussed user experience and Who's On First, an extensive digital gazetteer from Mapzen.

On Wednesday, we wrapped up with six unconference sessions on a diverse set of topics: (1) metadata harvesting: many of us are aggregating geospatial content from multiple institutions; (2) scanned maps: we all have scanned maps and we shared ideas on discovery, production, and access; (3) GeoBlacklight: this is a geospatial discovery application based on Blacklight and we walked through its requirements and purpose; (4) metadata as linked data: we discussed geospatial metadata, such as placenames, and the possible linked data predicates for representing them; (5) metadata interoperability: without this, for example, aggregating metadata from different institutions pollutes the controlled vocabulary in facets; and (6) metadata authoring: we walked through detailed examples for creating metadata using elements from the GeoBlacklight schema.

On Thursday, we switched gears into the post-conference working sessions. We set the day's agenda first, and launched into detailed discussions of GeoBlacklight and GeoConcerns. We ran through the repository data model implemented by GeoConcerns and designed by the Hydra GIS Data Modeling Working Group. We also ran through the tutorials offered by GeoBlacklight and ended up with working development instances running on our laptops. Also, members of the Hydra Plugins Working Group met to characterize how GeoConcerns extends the functionality of Curation Concerns, soon to be Hyrax.

On Friday, we wrapped up with a fruitful discussion on the benefits of geospatial repositories. We also discussed in details metadata workflows, the implementation of GeoConcerns' data models, and continued with GeoBlacklight tutorials.

On the collaborative side, there was plenty of time for informal discussions during the numerous social events. We were a lively bunch and informative discussions were not lacking.

All of the notes from the event are available online. Andrew Battista at NYU also wrote a blog post as did Eric James at Yale.

We hope to see you in 2018!