Data Power through Data Linking

July 13, 2009

“From Legacy Data to Linked Data: Preparing Libraries for Web 3.0,” drew enough of an audience that some had to listen from the hallway. Data objects and agents already have identifiers, explained Diane Hillmann of the Information Institute of Syracuse and Metadata Management Associates. In linked data, however, relationships between data also have identifiers. That way, “The relationships can be identified and explained and given context,” she said. “No longer can I as a data provider just present my data to you and say, ‘If you don’t like it, tough,’” noted Eric Miller, president of Zepheira. Instead, data providers—including libraries—should empower users to leverage that data, even without the provider’s knowledge. As an example, Miller described the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Initiative, which collects and digitizes at-risk information. But Miller said that the information is siloed and disconnected. “A spreadsheet is a fine way in which people can curate and manage content,” he observed. “But what we can do by surfacing that spreadsheet in this platform is to give the Library of Congress tools to create different views from that same data.” “This is very rich stuff,” Hillmann agreed. “And when people outside of the library world discover this, they’re going to use it too. And that’s good for us.” Jennifer Bowen of the University of Rochester described the eXtensible Catalog, a project at the university to build open-source software that reuses MARC data in an extensible environment, define a schema that will support XC’s user-interface functionality, and implement an interim solution until the completion of RDA. Software for XC will be rolled out through January 2010. The program was one of ten Grassroots Programs, proposed by ALA members who do not belong to ALA committees or boards. The Grassroots Programs are part of ALA President Jim Rettig's "creating connections" initiative.