Linked Open Data
By bringing linked data into the library, you’re joining a metadata ecosystem of global discovery and comprehensive interoperability. Cataloging is more accurate and more automated. Additionally, search results are more relevant, reliable, and informative. Ex Libris is leading the way in Linked Data integration, connecting enriched library records across applications on a cloud-based platform.
Ex Libris continues its ongoing effort to leverage the global metadata ecosystem for Alma customers. This includes a game-changing approach to metadata, with a view to making it open and efficient. There are three basic, complementary methods to reach that goal:
Community Sharing: Create a collaborative platform for openly contributing and sharing metadata. This is already happening in practice through the Ex Libris Community Zone, selected consortia, and other cooperative organizations. The goal for 2024 and beyond is to expand and support such collaborations, including access to a metadata ecosystem.
Linked Open Data: Create a production-scale solution for integrating libraries into the global semantic web, to realize the promise of linked data – more efficient cataloging, better discovery, and improved interoperability. Linked Open Data also makes it easier to implement free access or community-based sharing of metadata.
Data Enrichment: Retrieve, display, and provide access to relevant data from additional sources to enhance the experience of patrons and staff (e.g., displaying an author info card with more information about a book’s author).
Freeing Librarians: What We’ve Done, What We’re Doing, and What’s Next
Linked open 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 connecting resources, generating special collections, collating unique materials, and increasing their exposure to patrons easier. More valuable information is brought directly to the patron without library staff having to make connections or filter results manually.
Alma is already using linked data to some extent, with proven effectiveness. The next stage is to promote and develop its use further, making it more pervasive and ingrained throughout the library management system and workflows and availability for patrons in discovery systems.
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 have the freedom to choose which format to use while gradually transitioning to new linked data formats.
Ex Libris has begun by supporting BIBFRAME in the Alma catalog as our first Linked Open Data format, with additional formats to be added in accordance with the Alma community's 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 print, digital, or electronic item.
Ex Libris is working on supporting end-to-end workflows, such as enabling editing BIBFRAME records in open-source programs and sending them directly to Alma.
We are addressing the various needs of our customers and therefore plan to allow the ability to use MARC side-by-side with Linked Open Data as long as needed. MARC format is and will continue to be, fully supported and can be enriched with Linked Open Data and utilized for richer display. At the same time, customers can move gradually at their own pace from MARC to Linked Open Data formats.
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 simple record view.
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 the Alma Refine Cloud App. Currently, the supported linked open vocabularies are Getty, Wikidata, Geonames and OCRID, while libraries can add their own sources that support the OpenRefine standards to their CloudApp
See How to use the Alma Refine cloud app for service Wikidata as an example.
We are already working on integrating 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 LC BIBFRAME records in Sinopia 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.
See Linked Data – Support Core Functionality
Further down the line, working with Linked Open Data titles through Acquisition workflows will be possible.
Info Card in Metadata Management
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 via URIs. We plan to add this capability to Alma's staff search and part of the Authority selection in the Metadata Editor, using the Linked Open Data information from external sources, such as Wikidata.
In the future, Ex Libris will also include the bulk import of Linked Open Data from relevant sources through various workflows, such as acquisitions, migration, and integration with other metadata sources. The support will be for existing formats converted to or from linked data and for Linked Open Data formats in an end-to-end workflow. This will allow libraries to choose to work with Linked Open Data regardless of their vendors’ move to these formats.
Local and Global Interoperability via Export and Publishing
Linked data in the library creates a common language for communication and discovery across silo 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, these external systems can use the resources at the customer’s library to improve the quality and accuracy of their own data.
Alma supports exporting and publishing MARC bibliographic data in BIBFRAME and RDA/RDF formats and will support the export and publishing of linked data records converted to MARC21 with all supported enrichments to support integration with external systems that support existing formats.
In the future, Alma will support the export and publishing of linked data records in their original format with the attached inventory.
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 the Alma UI and APIs. As part of our roadmap, it will also be possible to create and update Linked Open Data records in Alma using APIs, starting with BIBFRAME works and instances.
Linked Open Data Endpoint (Openness)
Alma currently supports access to metadata via a standard endpoint. Information on any bibliographic or authority record can be accessed using its specific ID.
Moving from Authority to Entities
Today, local and global authorities are used to identify entities (such as contributors, locations, and more) while maintaining existing capabilities (such as enriching searches with non-preferred terms). Linked Open Data offers new possibilities for providing significantly more information regarding the entity itself, such as additional affiliations or colleagues of the author or similar titles. In the future, Ex Libris will be expanding its capabilities to adapt to new concepts that are based on entity management as opposed to authority management.