DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 20 June 2012. OCLC is taking the first step toward adding linked data to WorldCat by appending Schema.org descriptive mark-up to WorldCat.org pages. WorldCat.org now offers the largest set of linked bibliographic data on the Web. With the addition of Schema.org mark-up to all book, journal and other bibliographic resources in WorldCat.org, the entire publicly available version of WorldCat is now available for use by intelligent Web crawlers, like Google and Bing, that can make use of this metadata in search indexes and other applications.
Commercial developers that rely on Web-based services have been exploring ways to exploit the potential of linked data. The Schema.org initiative—launched in 2011 by Google, Bing and Yahoo! and later joined by Yandex—provides a core vocabulary for markup that helps search engines and other Web crawlers more directly make use of the underlying data that powers many online services.
OCLC is working with the Schema.org community to develop and add a set of vocabulary extensions to WorldCat data. Schema.org and library specific extensions will provide a valuable two-way bridge between the library community and the consumer Web. Schema.org is working with a number of other industries to provide similar sets of extensions for other specific use cases.
The opportunities that linked data provide to the global library community are in line with OCLC's core strategy of collaboratively building Webscale with libraries. Adding linked data to WorldCat records makes those records more useful—especially to search engines, developers and services on the wider Web, beyond the library community. This will make it easier for search engines to connect non-library organizations to library data.
"Schema.org introduces an important new standard," said Richard Wallis, OCLC Technology Evangelist. "Making library information compatible with the rich data sources now being published widely on the Web will establish libraries as a major hub in the linked data universe. This enhancement demonstrates the WorldShare Platform vision by exposing rich bibliographic and authority data on behalf of OCLC member libraries."
WorldCat has been built by thousands of member libraries over the last four decades and is the world's largest online registry of library collections. OCLC will continue to engage the library community and the larger developer communities to research, discuss and inform the progression of linked data projects on behalf of member libraries.
"Libraries generate, maintain and improve an enormous amount of high-quality data that is valuable well beyond traditional library boundaries," said Eric Miller, President of Zepheira, a professional services company that promotes the Web as a platform to manage information, and is assisting OCLC with linked data strategy. "By operating as a kind of switchboard to and from other data-driven resources, WorldCat data can better connect students, scholars and businesspeople to library resources."
OCLC sees Schema.org as a timely and significant development toward linked data technology adoption that will provide recognizable benefits for libraries. "OCLC Research has been a lead participant in putting semantic structure in the Web for many years," according to Jeff Young, OCLC Software Architect. "Schema.org gives us a search engine-friendly vocabulary to describe our complex data environment. It conveniently allows various communities to join authoritative sources on the web, such as Dewey, VIAF and FAST headings, using the same structures."
Further demonstrating its role in providing linked library data, OCLC has recently announced that the full set of DDC 23--more than 23,000 assignable numbers and captions in English--is now available as linked data.
OCLC is committed to the stability and improved functionality of linked bibliographic data. It is likely that such markup may evolve over the coming months as the community develops a common understanding. This release should be considered experimental and subject to change. This linked data release of WorldCat.org is made available by OCLC under the Open Data Commons Attribution License.
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world's largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat on the Web at www.worldcat.org. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.