Stanford Libraries awarded grant to implement linked data metadata environment

A proposal to dramatically shift how libraries create metadata and greatly improve how users discover library holdings has been accepted and awarded to Stanford Libraries by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In partnership with the libraries of Cornell, Harvard and the University of Iowa, Stanford will lead the effort to integrate library data into the web, in a semantic way, so it can be discovered intelligently in web searches as well as in a library’s catalog.

Linked Data for Production“By taking advantage of the semantic web, library users can directly benefit from other important data sources on the web,” said PHILIP SCHREUR, associate university librarian for Technical Services at Stanford Libraries. “The web is an international environment. By shifting to linked data, libraries worldwide can take advantage of the existing bibliographic and authoritative data many national libraries create and make available as linked data.”

Since the 1960s, libraries have been following Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) standards for the communication of metadata about resources in their catalogs. MARC was considered revolutionary in its day, allowing data from library card catalogs to be encoded in machine-readable form, enabling the catalog cards to be reproducible on the computer screen and the data to be exchanged freely among libraries. Originally designed for magnetic tape-based computers, the standards are now only understood by library systems. Failure to speak the language of the web has isolated libraries from the broader world of information developing there.

Over the course of two years, the grant team will dedicate efforts to achieve four goals: 1) enhanced discovery of library materials; 2) development of a cloud-based sandbox environment for the community to access, adopt and implement linked data; 3) creation of policies adopted across the academic library community that promote best practices for transitioning to and implementing linked data; and 4) increased efficiency of workflows for metadata creation by pooling and leveraging data already developed and available by numerous national libraries around the globe.

The tools developed will be open source and free for anyone to use. Through community engagement and development efforts, the grants team expects the linked data for libraries initiative will evolve as technical developments and trends unfold.

Read the full article on the Stanford Libraries website.