Linked Open Data
By bringing linked data into the library, you’re joining a metadata ecosystem of global discovery and comprehensive interoperability. Cataloging is far more accurate and much more automated. Additionally, search results are more relevant, reliable, and informative. Ex Libris is leading the way to Linked Data integration, connecting enriched library records across applications on a cloud-based platform.
In 2022, Ex Libris is continuing its ongoing effort to leverage the global metadata ecosystem on behalf of Alma customers. This includes a game-changing approach to metadata, with a view to making it open, efficient, and cost free. There are three basic, complementary methods to reach that goal:
Free the metadata: Provide libraries across the world access to a metadata ecosystem free of charge, with quality records preserved in an open format.
Community sharing: Create a collaborative platform for openly contributing and sharing metadata. This is already happening in practice through Ex Libris Community Zone, selected consortia, and other cooperative organizations. The goal for 2022 and beyond is to expand and support such collaborations with Alma’s extensive capabilities.
Linked open data: Create a production-scale solution for getting libraries integrated into the global semantic web, in order to realize the promise of linked data – more efficient cataloging, better discovery, and improved interoperability. Linked open data also makes it much easier to implement free access or community-based sharing of metadata.
Freeing Librarians: What We’ve Done, What We’re Doing, and What’s Next
Linked data saves time and improves efficiency for both patron-facing and resource management librarians. Catalogers can add metadata from publishers and other sources automatically, improving accuracy, reducing redundancy, and increasing data reliability. This makes it easier to connect resources, generate special collections, collate unique materials, and increase their exposure to patrons. More valuable information is brought directly to the patron, without library staff having to manually make connections or filter results.
Alma is already using linked data to some extent, with proven effectiveness. The next stage is to further promote and develop its use, making it more pervasive and engrained throughout the library management system and across its workflows.
All future capabilities described below are subject to change.
Ex Libris continues to provide seamless support for a large variety of metadata formats, such as MARC21, KORMARC, CNMARC, UNIMARC, DC and MODs. Linked open data, as a new type of format, is a critical addition to the existing toolbox, making it possible for customers to gradually transition to a more robust ecosystem.
Ex Libris has begun by supporting BIBFRAME as a linked open data format. Additional formats will be added in accordance with Alma community needs.
Unified Management of Multiple Resource Types
Alma is a next-gen library solution for coherent and streamlined management of electronic, print, and digital resources, catalogs, and collections. This includes curation, acquisitions, discovery, and analytics. As a unified system, Alma consolidates formats and metadata using common workflows and processes for maximum efficiency. Metadata based on linked open data will be supported in Alma for any relevant resource, whether it is a print, digital or electronic item.
Creating Enriched Metadata
By using linked open data for defining creative works and instances, the cataloger will be able to manage catalog metadata more efficiently.
Today, we support the display of MARC records enriched with URLs based on links to authorities in search results and in the metadata editor. Also, you can see a BIBFRAME version of such a MARC record highlighting the work and its individual instances in Alma’s record simple view.
Figure 1: Displaying links leading to authority records in the title search results
Figure 2: Displaying links leading to authority records in the metadata editor
Figure 3: BIBFRAME record for a title in search results
In addition, the cataloger can refine Alma bibliographic records using OpenRefine services. To enrich the MARC record with URIs based on lookups within Alma, the cataloger should use Alma Refine Cloud App. Currently, the supported linked open vocabularies are Getty, Wikidata, and Geonames.
See How to use the Alma Refine cloud app for service Wikidata for an example.
Figure 4: Titles’ search results with the Refine Cloud App
We are already working on the integration of Alma and the Sinopia metadata editor for linked data, with development currently in the proof-of-concept stage. Such integration would allow catalogers to create new BIBFRAME records and store them in Alma. These records will be supported as part of Alma’s standard functionality.
Looking ahead, the cataloging of linked open data relations will be part of Alma’s core capabilities.
Support Core Functionality
Currently, Ex Libris is developing the capabilities needed for Alma customers to upload, store, manage and search records cataloged as linked data, which will also enrich fulfillment workflows.
Library staff members will be able to search for creative work or any instance of it, as both works and instances will be part of the catalog. The instances will also be accessible for related inventory, as bibliographic records are related to inventory categories such as holdings and portfolios.
All standard fulfillment workflows will be the same at the inventory level. In later phases, there will be more options incorporating instance records.
Further down the line, it will be possible to work with linked open data titles through Acquisition workflows.
One of the advantages of using linked open data is the ability to provide an enriched display, with more information on linked entities and related resources made available thanks to the URI. We are planning to add this capability to Alma’s staff search feature.
Figure 5: Planned info card for works and instances
In the future, Ex Libris will also include bulk import of linked open data from relevant sources. This will be useful for both migrations and routine management activities.
Local and Global Interoperability Via Export and Publishing
Linked Data in the library creates a common language for communication and discovery across siloed systems within the customer’s institution. This seamless interoperability is built on enriched library records – with URLs for language, name, subject and other identifiers – which can be displayed and exported by various Ex Libris applications.
Linked open vocabularies also make it possible to discover and analyze resources held in external systems, such as research facilities, the Library of Congress, etc. Additionally, those external systems can more easily use resources at the customer’s library to improve the quality and accuracy of their own data.
See Alma Export and Publishing supporting BIBFRAME and RDA/RDF formats for more information.
API – Supported
The bibliographic metadata found in Alma contains a rich set of information and objects that can be represented as linked data.
Alma’s linked open data allows for access to the institution’s bibliographic information using Linked Data Principles for multiple purposes, including in the context of Alma UI and APIs.
Linked Open Data Endpoint (Openness)
Alma currently supports access to metadata via a standard endpoint. Information on any bibliographic record or authority can be accessed using its specific ID.
Moving from Authority to Entities
Today, various authorities are used to identify entities (such as author, location, and more). Linked open data offers new possibilities of providing significantly more information regarding the entity itself, such as additional affiliations or colleagues of the author. In the future, Ex Libris will be expanding its authority management capabilities (to include both local and global vocabularies, such as those of the Library of Congress).