Magazine article American Libraries

A Linked Data Landscape: Critical Decisions for Data Licensing, Shared Standards, and System Design

Magazine article American Libraries

A Linked Data Landscape: Critical Decisions for Data Licensing, Shared Standards, and System Design

Article excerpt

Linked data is an approach to publishing that makes use of web technologies to create shareable information that can be easily used by humans and computers. In the past few years, the library, archive, and museum (LAM) community has developed new tools and standards, published new vocabularies, and explored new use cases (a list of steps that defines interactions between a user and a system) and applications. All of this activity is helping to share more data across the web. Recently, librarians and archivists have been pondering how to publish and license this data to enable widespread use, how to develop and make use of shared standards, and how to design effective systems.

Data licensing. The common practices that LAM communities have created to develop open source tools and support of open access are now influencing how we publish open data. Even though institutions are choosing different open-use licenses, open data is supporting new and broader uses of data. The Getty Museum, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of British Columbia are among those that have released digital objects, full-text content, and metadata under open licenses. As these practices expand, we could see a dramatic growth in new scholarship.

Shared standards. As major linked data projects such as BIBFRAME and the Digital Public Library of America progress, developers are making decisions about how to use vocabularies and standards that will affect the usefulness of LAM data. The LAM community has yet to reach consensus on these standards, and this poses a challenge to anyone seeking a way forward. As an example of potential confusion, data management company Zepheira, a partner with the Library of Congress (LC) in the development of BIBFRAME, developed a vocabulary called BIBFRAME Lite, which is similar but not always equivalent to the LC-managed BIBFRAME vocabularies. …

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