Extending Legacy Metadata with Linked Open Data

Jacob Jett, Timothy W. Cole, Alex Kinnamen, Deren Kudeki, Myung-Ja (MJ) K. Han, Caroline Szylowicz


Library special collections are valued by scholars and relied on to support both research and teaching. In recent years libraries have invested heavily in digitizing many of these collections. Unfortunately less effort and fewer resources have been expended post-digitization and many digitized library special collections today exist on the Web only in isolated information silos, difficult to find and disconnected from other resources that could provide users with valuable context. This begs the question: Can Linked Open Data (LOD) approaches be leveraged to help contextualize and enrich item-level descriptions of such collections and provide links to related information resources? This project report describes preliminary results from Exploring the Benefits for Users of LOD for Digitized Special Collections, a project still in progress which is examining this and related questions. Among the findings reported here: while special collections metadata are typically rich and ripe with LOD potential, the idiosyncratic nature of the collections and the metadata schemes used pose unique mapping and transformation challenges; the opportunity for adding links to item-level metadata is great, but finding links still requires significant cataloger involvement; at the scale of most library special collections, information from LOD sources can be retrieved in real time to enhance the presentation of items to end-users, providing context and links to related information. These findings suggest that the transformation of metadata into LOD and the inclusion in item descriptions of links can improve the connectedness of digitized special collections and enhance user interactions with these resources.

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