Created over the last four decades with the participation of thousands of member libraries, WorldCat is the world's largest online registry of library collections. As the official press release states, "WorldCat.org now offers the largest set of linked bibliographic data on the Web. With the addition of Schema.org mark-up to all book, journal and other bibliographic resources in WorldCat.org, the entire publicly available version of WorldCat is now available for use by intelligent Web crawlers, like Google and Bing, that can make use of this metadata in search indexes and other applications."
On the heels of the announcement earlier this week about Dewey Decimal Classifications also being available as Linked Data, this certainly marks an exciting week in the world of library information and the Semantic Web. However, this should also prove to be exciting for non-librarians, as these resources are now available beyond the world of library sciences.
Eric Miller, president of Zepheira, said, "Libraries have a long history of being trusted community resources for unbiased information, but doing so on a global scale has been daunting. Efforts such as that outlined in this OCLC announcement; the recent release of DDC23 data as Linked Data; and the U.S. Library of Congress Linked Data Service help address that. They show that using Semantic Technologies, we can break down these barriers to sharing. We can turn to our libraries to be the trusted resources in the digital world that they have been for so long in the analog world."
Miller continued, "Libraries generate, maintain and improve an enormous amount of high-quality data that is valuable well beyond traditional library boundaries. By operating as a kind of switchboard to and from other data-driven resources, WorldCat data can better connect students, scholars and businesspeople to library resources." Zepheira is assisting OCLC with linked data strategy.
Richard Wallis, OCLC Technology Evangelist, added, "Making library information compatible with the rich data sources now being published widely on the Web will establish libraries as a major hub in the linked data universe. This enhancement demonstrates the WorldShare Platform vision by exposing rich bibliographic and authority data on behalf of OCLC member libraries."
A Bit of a Teaser
While the OCLC announcement of schema.org integration is exciting, and while the announcement focuses largely on that work, there seems to be something much deeper and broader in the works.
Curious about what data might be exposed in a WorldCat listing, I did an experiment.
- I searched for a friend's book, "One day and one amazing morning on Orange Street," by JoAnne Rocklin.
- I grabbed the URI from WorldCat for that book:
- I entered it in the Structured Data Linter:
The result (pictured below - click to see the full result) showed some interesting nuggets of information.
In addition to the expected "schema:" markup, there is markup for categories from "skos:" and authoritative subjects from "id.loc.gov." While it is unclear what systems are yet parsing this information, it appears that the library world at large, and OCLC specifically, are working on some very exciting Linked Data initiatives.
Library image via Shutterstock