Submissions:2018/Creating a Linked Data Library Partnership Using Wikibase

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2018.

Creating a Linked Data Library Partnership using Wikibase
Theme (optional)
Relationship Building & Support, Inclusion & Diversity, Tech & Tools
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Sara Newell
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)

Building upon previous linked data pilot efforts, in late 2017, OCLC partnered with three institutions to demonstrate the value of linked data for streamlining library workflows. Participants from the partner institutions shared use cases for reconciling, creating, editing, and relating entities. OCLC staff surveyed existing technologies to meet the needs described by these use cases.

An out-of-the-box Wikibase instance was chosen as the prototype to offer our partners feature-rich tools without a great deal of time and effort developing those tools. The following advantages were key to the selection of Wikibase for the prototype: its open source, all-purpose data model is collaborative and has a diversity of knowledge and sources, multilingual usage, user-defined properties and version history. These built-in features allowed partner institutions to 1) reconcile strings representing people, organizations, concepts, places, and events against an index based on entities; and 2) create, edit, and share entity descriptions, while also allowing for the contribution of additional contextual relationships between entities within a short time, dependent only on spinning up a Wikibase instance and populating that instance with high-quality, vetted data.

Initial feedback on this effort was extremely positive and the project quickly expanded to 16 institutions of varying sizes and use cases. The creation of library-driven metadata in a Wikibase instance has resulted in collaborative discussions of best practices for describing library resources such as translations of creative works and cultural objects. Reconciling, creating, editing, and sharing entities in Wikibase has resulted in participants commenting on the paradigm shift this work represents for the way the library community thinks about description. As we consider what is important to capture in our pilot effort, the relationships between things come to the forefront of resource description. Also, as the project users became well-versed in SPARQL queries to mine data and experimented with additional searching tools, project discussions revolved around how library patrons would expect to search for items. While putting library users at the center of resource description isn’t a novel idea, the prototype shows that library patrons will be able to navigate metadata in a way that had not been possible prior to linked data.

With Wikibase, we are offering a revolutionary step for describing information. Describing metadata in a linked environment ensures resource discovery. Additionally, the toolset available through the Wiki platform demonstrates that participation in the metadata creation process can be more inclusive. With an editor such as Wikibase, users can create linked data without knowing triples, RDF, or URIs. Metadata specialists no longer have to know specific schemas to participate in the description of resources. As such, the Wikibase prototype demonstrates the value of linked data for improving resource-description workflows in libraries.

Representatives from partner institutions will give an update on project progress, demonstrate the interfaces and underlying data, and cover technical challenges and achievements. We’ll focus especially on the collaborative nature of the project and the gains achieved using a Wikibase platform. More details about the linked data prototype effort can be found on OCLC’s website[1].

Length of presentation
30 minutes
Special requests
Tech support for the demonstration of the tools created with our library partners
Preferred room size
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
Yes, at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA, June, 2018

Interested attendees

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  1. Rachel Helps (BYU) (talk) 20:50, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Slowking3 (talk)
  3. James Hare (talk) 19:26, 19 August 2018 (UTC)
  4. Dcheney (talk) 08:26, 7 September 2018 (UTC)
  5. Mlemusrojas (talk) 13:22, 20 October 2018 (UTC)