Category Archives: Linked data

The Problem with Records

In the past several weeks, I’ve been fortunate to have attended several one day conferences. In this post, I want to highlight a presentation by Diane Hillman called “Moving to the Open World: It’s not as scary as it sounds”. This presentation was on how linked open data can work for library data in terms of making our data accessible and discoverable by others. This was a fantastic presentation and one of Diane’s best. Out of all the information in the presentation, I want to highlight an important theme that not only Diane spoke about but that has come up before in reading about library data. This is that using xml to describe items is not very different from MARC records. To put it differently, with xml, we create records or documents that are hard to share, expose and provide relationships for the pieces in the xml record. On slide three of Diane’s presentation, she explains that xml assumes a closed world and the xml record is the equivalent to a metadata record or MARC record. What does she mean? For library data and when xml is implemented, the large majority are implemented according to what is called a schema and written in XSD or extensible schema definition. A XSD outlines the requirements that an XML needs to follow to conform to that XSD. Let’s take the analogy of languages and dictionaries. To write effectively and clearly in German, it’s good to know how to spell words and basic grammar. This is syntax and semantics, which is outlined in an xsd. To return to the world of libraries, to implement the metadata standard of MODS or Metadata Object Description Schema is to create an xml file that follows the requirements outlined in the MODS xsd. And we are familiar with this type of analogy. To create a record in my ILS, I have to follow the MARC and RDA standards. Just like a MARC record, one in XML has text in it. For example, a Dublin Core record has the elements in the angle brackets and textual information between the opening and closing angle brackets. We can move these XML records around through harvests or data migration. We can transform them into different XML files according to different metadata standards. We can display the information in the XML. This is no different from what we do with MARC records. And this is the closed system. We need to break out of this closed system. Of course, RDA attempts to do that with its focus on relationships. Another way is to use linked data. To varying degrees of success this can be implemented in XML. There is the MODS RDF ontology. Though there are a few linked open data projects mostly by large research universities like Stanford and Cornell, I am not aware of any institution using MODS RDF ontology. However, MODS RDF along with BIBFRAME express the need to make data open and shareable on the web. I would definitely recommend Diane’s presentation.


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MMA Version of MARC21 Elements and Vocabularies in RDF

Just posted by Diane Hillmann over at Metadata Matters.

Metadata Management Associates (MMA) is pleased to announce a new resource for the library community: The MMA version of MARC 21 elements and vocabularies in RDF, hosted by the Open Metadata Registry (OMR). Given the need for libraries to move beyond the MARC standard, and the desire for increased innovation as we move toward a successor, we felt this was a good time to make this data available to all. The MMA version of MARC 21 in RDF has been exclusively developed by Metadata Management Associates, and has not, as yet, been shared with the Library of Congress, although the recent announcements on MARC made it even more desirable to move in this direction.

So why did we spend the time to do this, given the intention to leave MARC behind? Most importantly, we want to make it easier for innovators to ‘play’ with this data, and to have URIs to use when they do so. We ourselves want to include MARC21 elements in our research into semantic mapping between bibliographic namespaces, and to inform proposed work on representing UNIMARC in RDF. We also want to provide inspiration for those eager to experiment with the issues around the transition from MARC 21 to the new environment of RDA and other bibliographic standards, and trust that the reassurance that it WILL happen–and is not rocket science–will help everyone interested in participating in that future.

What you see in the OMR now is what we’re calling ‘Level0’, the most basic loss-less way to transition MARC 21 data into the Resource Description Framework (RDF). It does not reflect the layers we think ought to be added on top:

  • Level1 may contain properties that gather sub-properties with similar semantics from Level0.
  • Level2 may contain properties and classes that represent aggregated statements composed of sub-properties from Level0 and Level1.
  • Level3+ can contain properties and classes that represent broader-level semantics and provide equivalence mappings to other namespaces for bibliographic metadata, such as Dublin Core terms, ISBD, and RDA.

Special thanks to Karen Coyle, whose work on the analysis of MARC 21 (most recently seen in Code4Lib Journal) inspired us greatly and whose questions pushed us in some important directions. Karen’s insights and ideas will be far more visible in Level1 and subsequent levels, when we build on the basics.

This initiative is also intended to inform the proposal to develop an RDF representation of MARC 21’s cousin, UNIMARC, presented at IFLA this year.

Please note that not all MARC21 elements are currently represented in the OMR. Some of the lesser-used tags in 00X-8XX have not yet been registered, and we are still looking into 76X-78X Linking entry fields.

We welcome feedback on this effort. Information on errors and specific issues is best communicated via the “FEEDBACK” links on all OMR pages. We’re happy to participate in discussions on the DCMI/RDA Task Group discussion list (, or anywhere else–just be sure we know that you’ve posted something, and we’ll respond.

Those of you headed for the DC-2011 conference are likely to see us presenting information on our new mapping initiative, and demonstrating how the MARC21 data in RDF supports useful mapping from MARC21 to RDA. We’ll post slides and links after that conference.

Metadata Management Associates
Diane Hillmann
Jon Phipps
Gordon Dunsire

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New Webinar on RDA

ALA TechSource just announced a new webinar on RDA entitled “Using RDA: Moving into the Metadata Future “. There are 3 presentations by Karen Coyle, Chris Oliver and Diane Hillmann.  The registration fee is $135. You can register at ALA TechSource’s website.

In a earlier post, I mentioned that there is ample material that can be found on the web in terms of learning about RDA. But of course, this means reading archived material on several listservs, blog posts, articles, pdf’s, ppt’s, and other materials scattered to the four winds. Looking for these materials, especially if you’ve just begun, can be daunting. In this case, such a webinar could be a good place to start. Karen and Dianne will provide a solid introduction to the more technical points of RDA such as how RDA relates to the semantic web and how RDA will change how we think of metadata. Chris, who wrote an introduction to RDA for ALA publishing, will most likely speak about how RDA responds better than AACR2 to such things as electronic resources and the digital world.

Here’s the blurb about the webinar/course.

RDA is here. Your catalog is loaded with MARC records, built on AACR2. You use a mix of metadata standards for non-book content. You must integrate RDA data with your legacy records. You wonder what consititutes an RDA record and are looking for answers.

Karen Coyle, Chris Oliver, and Diane Hillmann have closely followed the development of RDA with questions like these in mind. In this three-part workshop, they will lead a discussion of RDA, from its roots in AACR2 to its potential for sharing library data on the Web. Get the information you need—register today for this three-session workshop!

Session 1: New Models of Metadata
Led by Karen Coyle
October 27, 2010. 2:30 p.m. EDT

Session 2: RDA: Designed for Current and Future Environments
Led by Chris Oliver
November 10, 2010. 2:30 p.m. EST

Session 3: RDA Vocabularies in the Semantic Web
Led by Diane Hillmann
November 17, 2010 2:30 p.m. EST

Sign up today and engage in discussion and interactive learning that you can’t get anywhere else!

About the Instructors

  • Karen Coyle is a librarian and a consultant in the area of digital libraries. She worked for over 20 years at the University of California in the California Digital Library and has served on library and information standards committees.
  • Chris Oliver is a cataloguing librarian and cataloguing manager at the McGill University Library. She is the Chair of the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing and has been a member of the Committee since 1997. She has presented on RDA in Canada, the United States and internationally.
  • Diane Hillmann is currently Director of Metadata Initiatives at the Information Institute of Syracuse and partner in the consulting firm Metadata Management Associates.

About ALA TechSource Workshops
ALA TechSource Workshops are focused, small-group online discussions that give you the opportunity to learn from experts who offer authoritative answers to your questions, as well as to interact with colleagues who have similar concerns. Workshops are recorded and, along with other materials, are made available to attendees for future reference.

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NETSL on the Future of Metadata

The 2010 Annual Spring conference sponsored by NETSL (the New England Technical Services Librarians) has come and gone. It was an amazing conference with rich presentations. Thankfully, NETSL posted some of the presenters’ presentations at:

The two keynote speakers this year were Barbara Tillett and Jon Orwant. In the morning and afternoon slots, there were 3 breakout sessions that were well attended.

Barbara opened the conference with her presentation, “Building blocks for the future : making controlled vocabularies available for the web”. Her presentation was extremely rich and touched on several key issues for catalogers and metadata librarians today such as linked data, SKOS, and cloud computing. Throughout her presentation, she provided current examples of people participating in web 2.0 presence for controlled vocabularies. A few examples are the RDA vocabularies over at Metadata Registry or the LC Subject Headings. Barbara mentioned the work on VIAF as well as plans to expand not just VIAF but also the LC Subject Headings to personal names, corporate bodies, and meetings.

Jon Orwant unfortunately hasn’t posted his presentation. However, he gave a brief overview of how Google has developed better ways to differentiate volumes and dates for instance. Hopefully, his presentation will be posed shortly.

Take a look at this material as well as the presentations from the breakout sessions. It was a great conference with lots to learn.

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