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About Thing 23

Purpose: Now that you’ve explored multiple tools and projects that use linked data, you have the opportunity to consider what the future of linked data might look like within libraries. Thing 23 features interesting new projects that highlight potential paths forward and provides perspectives from the 23 Linked Data Things project organizers on where we’re headed.

Learning Outcomes: Learn about five different projects and perspectives on the future of Linked Data.

Intended Audience: Intermediate

Authors: Greta Bahnemann, Minitex; Lizzy Baus, Macalester College; Violet Fox, Northwestern University; Sara Ring, Minitex; Hsianghui Liu Spencer, Carleton College

Prerequisite: Thing 1. Defining Linked Data

Expected Duration: 60-90 minutes

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Getting Started

It can be both exciting and daunting to think about what the future holds when it comes to linked data in libraries. We would like to wrap up the series by leaving you with five different perspectives from the organizers of 23 Linked Data Things.

Exploring Wikidata: Introducing WikiframeVG

Violet Fox, Northwestern University

Like many in libraries who are exploring Linked Data possibilities, I’ve been enthusiastic about Wikidata as a concrete way to create and explore. One significant barrier, though, is that extracting information from the data that exists within Wikidata can still be intimidating. That’s why I’m excited about the potential of Wikiframe VG (Wikiframe Visual Graph), an open-source tool that allows users to create graphs without knowing SPARQL or other coding languages. Developed by librarians at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Wikiframe VG users can explore resources within the UNLV Special Collections that are represented by Wikidata items, seeing linkages between people, organizations, oral histories, photographic collections, and more. The idea behind keeping the project code open source is that other cultural history institutions can create an instance of the application that highlights their own collections.

Wikiframe VG is an example of the kind of projects that will help people understand the depth and breadth of our institutions’ collections and inspire new research possibilities. 


Possibilities for Discovery: Science Stories

Sara Ring, Minitex

As mentioned way back in Thing 1. Defining Linked Data, one expectation of Linked Data is that it can lead to better discovery experiences as information seekers will be presented with more rich and related data connected to their area of interest. 

In the future, I expect that we’ll continue to see more projects and applications that consume linked open data for better discovery for researchers, students, educators, and individuals. One such project I recently learned about is Science Stories. Science Stories is an app used to create stories about underrepresented people in the science community. It uses linked open data available from Wikidata, Wikimedia (for images), and other sources. This project makes use of the information available in Wikimedia resources to connect our data so that others are able to use, build, and discover through the Science Stories app in new ways.

In my role as a Continuing Education Librarian, I’m often trying to convey the value of linked data to library staff. A big part of teaching is demonstrating ideas in action. Projects such as Science Stories make it easier to show others the value of linked data and what the future holds.


Taking Small Steps: Wikidata Enhancement for My Community

Hsianghui Liu-Spencer, Carleton College

Attending the LD4 Wikidata Working Hour has drawn my attention to the benefit of quality metadata. When looking at Carleton College faculty’s Wikidata items, I sometimes discover important data elements missing. Many of the items were added through a batch process. I could wait for another cycle of the batch process (e.g., through the Library of Congress project), but I can also take action and go in and manually enhance or disambiguate the authors if I have that information handy.

As a cataloger, my approach is to learn and take small but achievable steps to enhance the data that already exists in Wikidata about people tied to my organization. This work will pay off as we move into a Linked Data future in libraries.


  • The Wikidata SPARQL query was created by Hilary K. Thorsen, part of the LD4 Community, to create a list of Wikidata items for Carleton College faculty members who don’t have LCNAF or VIAF identifiers. Run that Wikidata query, replacing "Carleton College" with your organization or your local academic institution. 
    • Pick one name and examine the Wikidata item for that employee. Can you add any missing elements to enhance the faculty’s Q number? For instance, you might add identifiers such as LCNAF or VIAF, or data elements like occupation or country of citizenship.

Making the Leap: New Models and Systems

Lizzy Baus, Macalester College

One of the most interesting things for me in discussions of the future of library Linked Data is the ways in which the systems we use will have to change. We have seen a push to move away from the MARC format into conceptual models that are better able to make use of Linked Data principles and practices. The most notable development here is BIBFRAME, the next-generation bibliographic model discussed in Thing 8. The Library of Congress has for some years now been testing BIBFRAME cataloging with their staff, and they have reached a phase in which LC catalogers do their original work in BIBFRAME, which is then fed through converter programs to turn it into MARC for use and sharing with other libraries. This works for now, but it is not ideal as a long-term solution. As part of the transition away from MARC, we will also need systems that can handle our new formats. The Library of Congress has recently announced that they will be migrating their systems to FOLIO, an open-source library service platform designed to be modular and flexible, including native support for BIBFRAME. 

In my role as the cataloger at a small academic institution, I’m involved in our library’s exploration of the current ILS marketplace. It is a high priority for me that any system we use needs to be able to adapt and change as things like BIBFRAME and Linked Data become more widespread. I am really looking forward to seeing how more vendors and systems will react to the changing library landscape. 


  • Watch or skim this 14-minute FOLIO demo from EBSCO
    • Where do you see future-ready adaptations in this platform? What is missing?

Aggregated Digital Collections

Greta Bahnemann, Minitex 

Linked Data is essentially a means to share information and collections on the open web. When thinking about the future of Linked Data, it is important to think about the role that aggregated digital collections will play in creating Linked Data and integrated metadata. Aggregated Digital Collections, projects such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and statewide projects such the Minnesota Digital Library and the Digital Library of Georgia, have created best practices for digital content creation. Aggregated digital collections bring digital content beyond institutional or organizational practices and bring disparate collections under a single set of unified standards. This work makes dozens or even hundreds of different collections work as a single collection. This kind of work makes these collections well suited to applying Linked Data. The metadata librarians and visual resource managers that work with aggregated digital content can use Linked Data to further connect and enhance existing digital content. 

There are currently an array of linked data projects that enhance digital collections. These projects include the implementation of standardized rights statements by The rights statements communicate the copyright and re-use information of digital objects and were designed for both human and machine users (such as search engines). Another linked data project is DPLA + Wikimedia. DPLA’s Wikimedia project incorporates open access DPLA content into Wikimedia Commons. 

In my role as the Metadata Librarian for the Minnesota Digital Library, I believe that automation will play a key role in future Linked Data projects. The work of creating Linked Data will hinge on the types of automation that the staff at large aggregated digital collections can provide, which also depends on the quality of metadata and use of shared standards and best practices. The future of Linked Data will also include more exploration and pilot projects. We know Linked Data has the capacity to help us build accessible and flexible collections, but our future work will depend on automation to allow us to do this work efficiently across collections. 


  • Think about your state or region’s history for important people, dates, or events. Are aspects of these events documented in a digital collection? Is there a Wikidata item related to that event and could it be enhanced?
  • Explore if your state, province, or region has a collection in Wikimedia Commons. Who owns those resources and could more things be added? Are there connections you could make from that item in Wikimedia Commons to Wikipedia or Wikidata?


After exploring the 23 Linked Data Things, what would you highlight when thinking about the future of libraries and linked data?

Consider sharing your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

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After exploring the 23 Linked Data Things, what would you highlight when thinking about the future of libraries and linked data?