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Innovation and improvement

WorldCat Works linked data: Connecting library resources into the core of the Web

Courtney Henderson /

OCLC has made 197 million bibliographic work descriptions—WorldCat Works—available as linked data, a format native to the Web, that will improve discovery of library resources through a variety of popular sites and Web services. By making this linked data available, library collections can now be more easily exposed, in context, to the wider Web community, integrating these collections and also improving discoverability through websites and services that library users visit daily, such as Google, Wikipedia and social networks.

“Bibliographic data stored in traditional record formats has reached its limits of efficiency and utility,” says Richard Wallis, OCLC Technology Evangelist. “New technologies, influenced by the Web, now enable us to move toward managing WorldCat data as entities—such as ‘Works,’ ‘People,’ ‘Places’ and more—as part of the global Web of data.”

The processes to create WorldCat Work descriptions build upon the OCLC FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) algorithm. The algorithm clusters bibliographic records based on a variety of elements from both bibliographic and authority records. Common attributes from within the cluster are aggregated to form work descriptions. Enhanced with subject heading and other classification links, they are richer and more complete than the individual source records. Aggregating works for translations provides the potential for the presentation of resources based on the language capabilities of the user. Future changes to individual records will now enhance the collective work description.

The 197 million work descriptions are now available for anyone to use. The release of WorldCat Works is the first step in providing a rich set of WorldCat entities as linked data, stimulating innovative uses of library data as they are released over time.

“With this release of WorldCat Works, OCLC is creating a significant, practical contribution to the wider community discussion on how to migrate from traditional institutional library catalogues to popular Web resources and services using linked library data,” says Neil Wilson, Head of Metadata Services at the British Library. “This release provides the information community with a valuable opportunity to assess how the benefits of a works-based approach could impact a new generation of library services.”

The project to release WorldCat Works linked data involved OCLC Research, Data Services and Engineering staff around the world.

About the Author

  • Courtney Henderson

    Courtney Henderson

    Courtney is an Analyst in the Product Marketing group. You may have heard Courtney's voice recently, as she manages all of OCLC's product-related webinars. She supports a variety of OCLC products to provide strategic insight and recently created a comprehensive view into all of OCLC's product marketing activities.