OCLC and linked data

Meet your users on the open web

Research habits have changed. It’s no longer enough for libraries to simply maintain information resources for users to access. They now have to make the information visible to seekers where they begin their research. WorldCat provides libraries with an opportunity to display their holdings on websites beyond library catalogs in a format that search engines, citation management systems, campus platforms, research portals, and other information websites can read and repurpose.

Chew Chiat Naun

“OCLC is well placed...”

“As a major data hub, OCLC is well placed to develop linked data services for the library community.” 

Chew Chiat Naun
Head of Metadata Creation
Harvard Library
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

WorldCat’s unique role with linked data

Jay Weitz [photo]

“...Most trusted sources”

“Historically, libraries are among the most trusted sources of accurate information. As we’ve moved toward a linked data future, that institutional legacy of authoritative data has become increasingly important. At OCLC, my colleagues and I take that deeply to heart. We don’t succeed in every case, but our goal is and always has been the continual improvement of bibliographic and authority data for a world increasingly reliant on those data.”

Jay Weitz
Senior Consulting Database Specialist, Data Services and WorldCat Quality Management
Dublin, Ohio, United States

The library data in WorldCat encodes some of the most important, unique, and authoritative information sources in the world, such as VIAF® (Virtual International Authority File) and FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology). As linked data, this information can exist in more websites and online tools than traditionally formatted bibliographic data. Librarians can do more with their data to pull information seekers back to libraries from more sources, increasing library relevance in the wider information ecosystem. WorldCat houses more library data than any other source and is constantly evolving to keep up with the changing nature of online research habits.

OCLC's research and experimentation, combined with projects underway by libraries across the world, are revealing that many improvements are possible with linked data. Showing what linked data can do requires a true cooperative effort. We are dedicated to working with OCLC member libraries and partners to reach that goal.

Read a blog post about linked data in libraries

Building a shared entity management infrastructure


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded OCLC a $2.436 million grant to develop a shared entity management infrastructure. This platform will support linked data initiatives throughout the library community.

OCLC has invested additional resources to complete the accessible and persistent entity management infrastructure. This centralized repository will allow libraries, OCLC, and other stakeholders to jointly curate linked data. It will also support links to other vocabularies and authority files so that the community has a solid linked data foundation to make library materials more discoverable online.

Learn more about OCLC's shared entity management infrastructure

Mary Sauer-Games

“...a solid foundation”

“These entities will establish a solid foundation upon which libraries, cultural heritage organizations, and scholarly communications communities can rely to manage their collections and research outputs and make them more easily discoverable on the web.”

Mary Sauer-Games
Vice President, Global Product Management
Dublin, Ohio, United States

Improving the interoperability of digital materials

As a founding member of IIIF (the International Image Interoperability Framework), OCLC is leading the effort to create new standards for sharing structural metadata about digital images, audio, and video with the library community.

Learn more about new support for IIIF in CONTENTdm


Connecting people with unique digital resources

Our new OCLC Research report Transforming Metadata into Linked Data to Improve Digital Collection Discoverability shares findings from our recent CONTENTdm Linked Data Pilot project. In this pilot project, OCLC partnered with institutions that manage their digital collections with OCLC’s CONTENTdm service to investigate methods for—and the feasibility of—transforming metadata into linked data to improve the discoverability and management of digitized cultural materials and their descriptions.

Download the report

Creating library linked data with Wikibase

OCLC's ten-month Project Passage pilot let librarians from 16 US institutions create linked data describing library and archival resources in a Wikibase sandbox. The librarians worked with OCLC on a framework for reconciling, evaluating, and managing traditional metadata as linked data entities and relationships. This opportunity revealed the potential of linked data in library catalogs as well as the gaps to address before fully adopting machine-readable semantic data can be fully adopted.


To learn more:

kalan Knudson Davis

“Monumental development...”

“[We are] re-envisioning the very fabric of the Bibliographic Universe. Linked data, as a monumental development with implications for the future of library resource discoverability, has a lot riding on it. We know it. OCLC knows it. Your library vendors know it.”

kalan Knudson Davis
Special Collections Metadata Librarian
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Linked data as a cooperative effort

OCLC works closely with other organizations, such as the Library of Congress, to ensure that library data are included on the web. We believe that linked data representations will eventually replace MARC. By cooperating with other data standards groups and making WorldCat data available to them, we both enhance the value of WorldCat and ensure that libraries have a voice in the future of information management.


OCLC remains committed to working with the Library of Congress and the library community to help finalize the BIBFRAME standard, an evolving model to share and connect bibliographic data. As multiple variants continue to evolve, we will continue to evaluate BIBFRAME data to help inform our linked data planning activities with a goal to allow all OCLC members to continue to register their collections in WorldCat.

Program for Cooperative Cataloging

OCLC is actively engaged with libraries within the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) to explore standards, policies, and best practices as library metadata transitions from MARC to linked data. OCLC participates in several committees and tasks forces including the Standard Committee on Standards, the Standard Committee on Training, and the Linked Data Advisory Group.

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