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Linked Data Tipping Point?

By Casandra Laskowski

Linked data is not a new idea, especially not for those working in cataloguing. However, despite the similarities between linked data and traditional library metadata, there have been many hurdles in libraries transitioning completely. A primary hurdle was resources. Stanford Libraries were recently awarded a four million dollar grant to implement their linked data proposal. This award may mean that we are finally at the tipping point with linked data and libraries, so those of us not familiar with the concept should start brushing up on our metadata studies.

At its core, the goal of linked data is to increase discoverability. It conforms to RDF but uses URIs to describe resources thereby allowing more things to be discovered. Libraries, being in the business of information discovery, were on board with the idea early on. In fact, Stanford’s award is not the first grant the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made for linked data.

It is important to note that while the award, like the ones that came before, was awarded to Stanford, they are part of a partnership with Cornell University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa and they intend to work with the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. This project will bring together varied collaborators, and it will likely be stronger for their unique perspective.

This latest proposal looks like it may lead to broad adoption as it takes years of preparation, organization, development, and theorizing, and applies it in a prototype environment from acquisition to discovery. One of the end goals is the “development of a cloud-based sandbox environment for the community to access, adopt and implement linked data.” We may be at a tipping point that will affect librarianship from here forward.

Copyright 2018 by Casandra Laskowski.

About the author: Casandra Laskowski is a Reference Librarian and Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law. She received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, and her M.L.I.S. from the University of Arizona. Prior to pursuing her career as a law librarian, she worked as a geospatial analyst in the United States Army and served a fifteen-month tour of duty in Iraq. Her areas of interest include privacy, censorship, and the intersection of national security and individual liberty.