194 Million Linked Open Data Bibliographic Work Descriptions Released by OCLC

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OCLC WorldCat logoby Eric Franzon

Yesterday, Richard Wallis gave a peek into some exciting new developments in the OCLC’s Linked Open Data (LOD) efforts.  While these have not yet been formally announced by OCLC, they represent significant advancements in WorldCat LOD. Our reporting to date on LOD at WorldCat is here.

Most significantly, OCLC has now released 194 Million Linked Open Data Bibliographic Work descriptions. According to Wallis, “A Work is a high-level description of a resource, containing information such as author, name, descriptions, subjects etc., common to all editions of the work.” In his post, he uses the example of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” as a Work.

As part of this advancement, data about each work is now available in multiple RDF data serializations, including Turtle, N-Triple, JSON-LD, and RDF/XML.

The second piece of interesting news Wallis offered in his post is about the existence of the WorldCat Linked Data Explorer interface, “a data exploration tool” as he puts it. Using the example Wallis offered, we can see the data and the interface in action:

WorldCat Linked Data Explorer - screen shot

One neat detail that illustrates the forward-thinking, iterative development approach being taken here is that there are URIs that are not yet fully functional. That is, they don’t necessarily lead to the content that OCLC plans for them. For example, clicking on one of the “Creator” URLs calls up the message, “This is a placeholder reference for a Person entity, related to a WorldCat Work entity. Over time, these references will be replaced with persistent URIs to VIAF, FAST, WorldCat, and other Linked Data resources.”

Screen shot of WorldCat dialog box describing incomplete work and what to expect in future.

As Wallis notes in his post, however, “the work URIs are persistent… [and the data] is also available under an open data license (ODC-BY).”

Perhaps the most exciting news that Wallis shares, however, is the vision for where the OCLC and WorldCat is headed. “This is the first production release of WorldCat infrastructure delivering linked data.” Eventually, it appears that we can look forward to seeing all 311+ million records, representing works, people, organizations, concepts, places, and events offered as LOD and linked to various other “authoritative data hubs, such as VIAF, FAST, LCSH, etc.”

For now, it’s great to see this start, and as Ed Summers says in this post, “OCLC didn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Indeed!

For more detail about the interface and the data, see Wallis’s original post.

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