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Linked Data

Linked Data is a set of best practices for publishing and connecting structured data on the web. It is about making data on the web machine-readable and providing connections and links to other data sets. By publishing data in this way it can also be linked to from other external data sets.

Much of our library data is stored in proprietary databases (our ILS's, digital repositories, etc), and web search engines cannot index this data. This means that users cannot discover much of our library content on the web. User studies have shown that most people begin their search on the web, not by visiting a library webpage or catalog. (See Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester and OCLC's Perceptions of Libraries, 2010 report to the membership).

The library community has made great strides in recent years in recognizing and finding solutions to this issue. Some of the latest library linked data projects include the Library of Congress-led BIBFRAME initiative to replace the MARC format using linked data technologies, the OCLC WorldCat Works project, and the Stanford Linked Data Project, to name just a few.

This page includes links to introductory resources, linked data communities, datasets, and examples of library catalogs and other applications using linked data.

Introductory Resources

  • W3C Linked Data
    Find out more about what linked data is, what it is used for, examples of linked data, and the current status of various linked data specifications (RDF, RDFa, etc.) and groups.
  • Free Your Metadata
    A website that walks you through the steps of cleaning up, reconciling, and publishing your data as linked data.
  • Linked Data for Libraries
    Created by OCLC, this 15-minute YouTube video introduces the concepts and technology behind linked data, including the benefits it brings to libraries.
  • Tim Berners-Lee on the Next Web
    Watch the TED talk by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) from 2009, which kicked off the "raw data now" movement.

Print Publications

Linked Data Communities

  • Upper Midwest Linked Data Google Group
    Managed by Minitex, this is an open group.
  • Linked Open Data in Libraries Archives and Museums (LODLAM) is an informal, borderless network of enthusiasts, technicians, professionals and any number of other people who are interested in or working with Linked Open Data pertaining to galleries, libraries, archives, and museums.
  • ALA Linked Data Interest Group
    A forum for discussion of issues related to linked library data and the role of library metadata in the semantic web. This is a joint interest group (ALCTS/LITA) of the American Library Association.


  • Bio2RDF
    Linked data repository for biological information including genes, proteins, and drugs.
  • DBpedia
    DBPedia is extracted information from Wikipedia, republished on the web as open linked data. One of the central interlinking-hubs of the emerging web of data.
  • Freebase
    Similar to DBpedia, another large cross-disciplinary repository of structured data.
  • Library of Congress Linked Data Service
    Names, places, and subjects published as URIs with links to other national libraries.
  • VIAF
    Virtual International Authority File. VIAF is hosted by OCLC, and a joint project of several national libraries.
  • WorldCat Works
    OCLC made millions of bibliographic work descriptions available as linked data. "Works" are high level descriptions of resources containing information such as author, name, descriptions, and subjects, etc. common to all editions of a work.

Databases, Catalogs, and Applications Using Linked Data

  • BBC Nature: Wildlife
  • The British National Bibliography as Linked Open Data
    This is a subset of the full British National Bibliography and currently includes published books (including monographs published over time) and serial publications, representing approximately 2.8 million records.
  • Evergreen ILS
    Record details expressed in the vocabulary using RDFa.
  • Koha ILS
    Record details expressed in the vocabulary using RDFa.
  • National Library of Spain
    The National LIbrary of Spain published the full catalog comprising more than 9 million records and around 150,000 digitized materials that generate more than 140 million RDF triples.
  • Open Library
    Since June 2012, OCLC has been adding descriptive mark-up to pages, making it the largest set of linked bibliographic data on the web.


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Stay up to date on cataloging news and events by visiting the following resources: