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Penn Libraries Linked Data Framework: Introduction

1. Introduction

The Penn Libraries engage in linked data initiatives to improve the metadata we make available for our information resources, and the technology we use to manage it.  The primary goal of our work is to make resources easier for our users to find and obtain, both through our own discovery tools and through external search. Secondary goals include making our resources more easily cataloged and described by our staff, making it simpler to share and exchange resource metadata, enhancing information about resources of interest to our users, and providing a platform for advanced metadata-based research by librarians and other scholars.


Metadata represented as linked data differs in significant ways from more traditional representations such as MARC records, as we describe in the Appendix: “Linked data and other formats."


It is often possible to include linked data in more traditional representations, or to make connections between linked data and more familiar formats.  We expect these mixed-format or “hybrid” linked data environments to be the most common way in which linked data is used in production in the next few years.   However, we are also evaluating environments that use linked data exclusively. We are considering the possibilities that exclusive linked data environments might become standard for some applications in years to come, and that hybrid environments may persist.


Our adoption of linked data depends heavily on the outcomes of work of other organizations with whom we collaborate.  This work includes the Library of Congress’s development of BIBFRAME and tools to edit it as well as their ongoing work maintaining authorities as linked data, OCLC’s development of a Shared Entity Management Infrastructure for linked data entities, SHARE-VDE’s development of a shared linked data discovery environment for library data, Sinopia’s linked data editing tools, as well as other work of library peers in the LD4 initiative.  In addition, Wikidata is a rapidly growing hub for linked open data, much of which is relevant to or created by libraries, and Wikibase, the open-source software that implements Wikidata, is also widely used to manage linked data.  


Our long-term linked data strategy also depends on the answers to questions we are investigating in our near-term linked data initiatives.  Those questions include whether and how our use of linked data achieves the goals stated above; what workflows, people, and programs will best support linked data use; what linked data representations, tools and systems work well; how shared metadata creation and maintenance can be best supported; and what kinds of linked data use are most cost-effective.

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