The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) alum Peter McCracken (MSLS '95) will deliver the Fall 2022 Alumni Lecture titled "From Serials to Ships: Still Helping People Find Stuff" on October 13, 2022 at 3 p.m. ET via the SILS YouTube Channel Livestream.
Peter McCracken has been an electronic resources librarian at Cornell University since 2016. Prior to joining Cornell, Peter worked as a reference librarian at East Carolina University and the University of Washington. In 2000, he co-founded Serials Solutions, which was acquired by ProQuest in 2004. In 2009, he co-founded ShipIndex.org, which helps people do research on vessels. Peter received the Ulrich’s Serials Librarianship Award in 2011 for his work with Serials Solutions, and was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from UNC SILS in 2012. He has published scholarly and non-scholarly articles in many journals, and wrote a quarterly column titled "Maritime History on the Internet" in Sea History magazine from 2004 to 2020. In 2019 he was a co-author of “Techniques for Electronic Resources Management,” ALA’s first Open Access monograph.
To register to virtually attend the lecture, visit: go.unc.edu/Alumni-Lecture-McCracken
About the lecture "Serials to Ships: Still Helping People Find Stuff"
In 2000, Peter McCracken co-founded Serials Solutions with two brothers and a high school friend. The company helped librarians and patrons find e-journals that were available in the online databases to which libraries subscribed, and it met a clear need at the time. Serials Solutions created a new market for e-resources metadata that soon included knowledgebases that powered OpenURL resolvers, title lists, MARC records, and more. The company also built the first ‘discovery layer,’ a single database of most of the licensed resources that a library could access. These products remain a core part of any academic or public library’s services. Serials Solutions was acquired by ProQuest in 2004, and Peter stayed with the company until 2009, when he left to found a much more quixotic company: ShipIndex.org, which helps people do research on specific ships. ShipIndex has not seen a success like Serials Solutions’, but it is a better reflection on Peter’s library career, dating back to his long-term interest in maritime history, and his internship at the Maine Maritime Museum library, in the summer between his two academic years at SILS.
In this talk, Peter will discuss the origins of each company, and their similarities and differences. Serials and ships do have parallels: they each have specific names, but these are often corrupted or vary dramatically; names of both can change over time; and each have assorted numbering and identification systems that do or don’t work, to varying degrees. There are, of course, many differences, as well. And there have been even more differences in how these two companies began and grew, which Peter will explore, perhaps with a particular focus on what hasn’t worked (for 13 years now!) with ShipIndex, but why he’s still trying to find the right mix to make it succeed.