JUN 18

Works in Progress Webinar: Case Studies from Project Passage Focusing on Wikidata’s Multilingual Support

This presentation highlights key lessons from the Linked Data Wikibase Prototype regarding Wikidata’s multilingual support. It focuses on two use cases from the upcoming report on the pilot: Chinese descriptions and representing works and their associated translations.

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Webinar files

Slides (.pptx)


Karen Smith-Yoshimura, OCLC Research
Xiaoli Li, UC Davis  


This presentation highlights some key lessons from our experiences in the OCLC Research’s Linked Data Wikibase Prototype (“Project Passage”) regarding Wikidata’s multilingual support. It focuses on two case studies from the upcoming report on the pilot: Chinese descriptions and representing works and their associated translations.

Libraries collect materials in multiple languages, but often those written in non-Latin scripts are represented in our catalogs in romanization only—a distinct disadvantage to users who read these scripts and expect to find them using terms written in the language’s non-Latin script. Authority control for the “preferred heading” uses only the romanizations of these headings. Language specialists must conform to the ALA/LC romanization rules for all non-Latin script materials for both descriptive metadata and access points in MARC records.

Wikidata embeds Unicode, and allows us to enter descriptions (fingerprints) and statements in whatever language the resources are written in. We no longer need to be prescribed by a “preferred form” as we can also enter alternative forms of name used in one language, and need not need provide transliterations, which can be entered by others in different languages. The concept of “language of cataloging” disappears in this environment. Rather than create an authorized name string in each language, we can create statements in many languages for any real-world object with an identifier. Tools can establish references through the identifier and present all information associated with the object in the language and script preferred by the user—supporting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion goals.

The cream of the world’s culture and heritage is shared by being translated—it’s how we learn about other cultures. One Project Passage use case focused on associating translations in different languages and writing systems with the original work. The presentation shows how we applied our translation model as Wikidata “statements” that could facilitate discovery and bring in data from linked data sources.

This webinar will be of interest to metadata librarians, those tracking linked data initiatives, those interested in the representation of languages and scripts in cataloging, as well as those interested in developments with Wikidata and Wikibase. 

  Works in Progress: An OCLC Research Occasional Webinar Series

These webinars are exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners, but the recordings are publicly available to all.

Works in Progress: An OCLC Research Occasional Webinar Series to talk about work happening in OCLC Research – we'd like to present our work informally and get feedback from you, our Partners. We'd also like this to be a venue for Partner institutions. What are you working on that everyone should know about? What input would help you move forward? Let us know!


18 June 2019


11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Eastern Daylight Time, North America [UTC -4]