OCLC has been working a lot with linked data in recent years, and we have described some of that work at a very high level in this space before. That work continues, but now we are also adding an educational component to that work. Since we want our member libraries to be able to take advantage of all of the linked data that is becoming available—both from us and from the world at large—we want to help library software developers understand the tools and strategies for consuming linked data.
Moving linked data into our workflows
We are at a watershed moment in terms of library linked data. For the past few years, we at OCLC and others have been predominantly involved in the technology as a research and exploration activity. That was important, of course, so that we could come to some clear conclusions and standards before moving into projects that would affect library workflows. We’ve seen a lot of great work done that demonstrates possibility.
Now it’s time to begin making those possibilities real. Much of the most exciting work in library linked data will be done “out there” by the same types of technologists and innovators who began building the early web back when hardly anyone knew what a “.com” was. It will be done by individual librarians working on one-off projects or fun weekend tech demos. It will be done by programmers and catalogers who want to address some specific, local needs of their community.
It will be done by you. And we want to help.
Connecting with developers
Recently, Karen Coombs, Senior Product Analyst at OCLC, held a very successful pre-conference session about using Linked Data at the annual Code4Lib conference. With 62 attendees, her session was by far the best attended and the participants were very engaged. Given the level of interest in the topic and Karen’s success in putting together a useful course, we will repurpose the content to educate and empower even more library developers. It’s time to move from talking about linked data to putting it to work.
Toward that end, over the next few months we are planning a series of blog posts and webinars. The blog posts will be published on the developer network and will precede webinars on similar topics. By offering this series we hope to enhance the ability of library developers to use and interact with linked data generally and with OCLC’s Linked Data resources and services specifically. Two recent posts provide information on working with graphs without a SPARQL endpoint and manipulating output with FILTER, OPTIONAL and UNION. Future posts will focus on other output options, JSON-LD basics and both server and client side linked data consumption. You can register for all three webinars here. Don’t wait… the first, on querying linked data, is coming up April 27.
Moving to a new world (again)
If you are a library developer, we hope that you will find these educational offerings useful. The more coders who know how to interact and publish linked data, the quicker we can move to a new world that many of us believe is well on its way.
Remember back in the early 90’s when the web was weird and new? When someone would point you to a web site and – GASP! – there was a picture alongside the text! Or where sounds came out of your computer (if you had a speaker hooked up). Or when you filled in your first online form and got a response in email? That’s where we are with linked data. The foundation is there. The initial set of tools has been built. It only remains to be seen what we (and you) will build with them.
Find out more about library linked data: