Linked Data And Libraries

Rapid technological progression within the past few decades has engendered increasing reliance on the web. Access to the internet has sped up communication, research capability and accessibility to the public data of any functioning professional institution. All responsible enterprises have responded to these changes, and evolved mechanisms to cope with consumer demands. In this battle for business maximization, libraries have failed to keep up with the fickle temperament of the web. I will be discussing how with the development of the web, this is tantamount to sin due to the potential benefits the library industry is posed to gain.

Linked data offers structure to a deluge of information that has none. Libraries operate to provide accessibility to information that may have been derived from various sources, or that may overlap with the other mounds of data present within them. In other words, they have remained human friendly as opposed to easy for machines to process. Manning physical forms of data storage is exhausting and impractical, a fact that many organizations have begun to realize. This has manifested in the urge to make bibliographical data free and open. The organization that this facility offers will allow for the publishing of weblogs, survey data and counter statistics in a format that is convenient for consumers. This data could then be further analysed or compared for research purposes (for example to determine correlation between any two processes) once it is available in a more common format like RDF (Gillian Byrne, Lisa Goddard screen), so that data can be integrated to produce a common base of knowledge. This would eliminate common issues such as a lack of granularity, inaccurate and irrelevant search results, etc.

The flexibility that linked data extends to customers is unparalleled. Allemnag and Hendler proffer the analysis that by implementing this, there is a formation of a distributed data model, which invites opinions and arguments, while simultaneously remaining open for potential new information in light of new discoveries that in no way disrupt the original work. The knowledgebase produced could be contexualised for computers to link a person to the most helpful sources, so that this storage could take over functions such as selection, ordering, cataloguing, taxonomy development etc.

There are, of course challenges to the implementation of such reform. A major lack of awareness, a need for experts to make this project come to life, the possibility of exposure of confidential information, rights management. However, in order to prevent libraries from becoming obsolete and to protect the priceless data they store, it is necessary for them to upgrade to more sophisticated mechanisms. Movements such as Expression of Core FRBR Concepts in RDF should be more widely supported and made more mainstream. Only with overwhelming public support can this become a reality.


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