New OCLC position paper articulates the value of linked data to the library community

'Linked data: The future of library cataloging,' adds context to discussion about linked data along with a strategy for supporting libraries as they move to linked data over time

logo: OCLC linked data

DUBLIN, Ohio, 24 June 2024—OCLC, the worldwide leader in library cataloging and metadata services, has released "Linked data: The future of library cataloging," a position paper that articulates the value that linked data can bring to library catalogs, and the tools already available to help ease libraries into creating a more interconnected experience for information seekers.

The brief, 12-page paper follows OCLC's path from decades of linked data research, to experiments and prototypes, the creation of more than 150 million WorldCat Entities, and, most recently, to the web application and APIs now available through OCLC Meridian that libraries can use to get started.

"For years, OCLC has seen linked data as the future of library cataloging," said Mary Sauer-Games, OCLC Vice President, Global Product Management. "We have explored the best and most efficient ways to move catalogs and cataloging away from MARC to ensure they connect with other information streams. We're at a point now where librarians are using new tools and applications to see for themselves the impact that linked data can have on library catalogs. So, the future is here, yet we know that the move to linked data will not happen overnight. We want to make it easy for libraries of all types and sizes to experiment with linked data within their current workflows so that they can move at their own pace."

OCLC has created a hybrid environment for libraries to experiment and see for themselves the potential of linked data for greater discoverability of library resources. OCLC is integrating linked data within existing systems and services while simultaneously developing new tools that will help make the transition easier for libraries.

Linked data builds on the scalable foundation of WorldCat, which is evolving as the infrastructure to facilitate linked data integration and interoperability at a global scale. Linked data will expand the capabilities of WorldCat to reach beyond the limitations of MARC and connect to new and different information streams and resources on the web.

In addition to expanding the reach of WorldCat to other information ecosystems, linked data also makes it possible for other organizations and partners to connect back to libraries.

The position paper helps answer the question of why the move to linked data is important for libraries.

"We believe that libraries will eventually need to transition to a linked data model to better connect in today's interconnected universe of information," said Gina Winkler, OCLC Executive Director, Metadata and Digital Services. "We're committed to the long-term success of this transition, and to providing ongoing community support, training, and collaboration. With WorldCat as the foundation, our long-term strategy is to lift libraries at scale to this new way of connecting to the wider web for a more comprehensive discovery experience."

"Linked data: The future of library cataloging" is available now on the website.

About OCLC

OCLC is a nonprofit global library organization that provides shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

OCLC, WorldCat, and WorldShare are trademarks and/or service marks of OCLC, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks and/or service marks of their respective owners.


  • Bob Murphy

    Manager, Media Relations

    O: +1-614-761-5136

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