Demonstrating Library Value at Network Scale: Leveraging the Semantic Web With New Knowledge Work
Journal of Library Administration
Arlitscha, Kenning ;Patrick Obrienb;Jason A. Clarkc;Scott W. H. Young; Doralyn Rossmanne
Abstract: The Internet has been redefining library work for two decades, but the development of the Semantic Web is driving new requirements for data preparation. Metadata for human consumption is becoming less relevant as the Internet of Things allows machines to converse with each other and to consume and comprehend data directly. Americans submit nearly 20 billion queries each month to commercial Internet search engines (comScore, 2014), but few libraries optimize their data for the machines that have become the center of the discovery process. Libraries have also been slow to engage in new methods that authoritatively establish their semantic identities for search engines. Library content and services are more effectively discovered and used after these identities are established and optimized according to evolving Semantic Web protocols and services.
It's not only libraries that face this challenge. Every organization in an academic institution benefits from visibility that drives the use of its products and services, and most of these organizations struggle with piecemeal efforts that are often ineffective in the long term and don't benefit the institution at large. Central IT organizations rarely have the resources or knowledge to successfully and consistently deploy optimization services to campus organizations to ensure their visibility on the Web, which in turn leads some organizations to contract with students or other Web site service providers. Only sometimes do those consultants understand the complex array of elements that comprise a successful Web presence; in many cases the efforts prove unsustainable when the consultant moves on or the funding expires.
Opportunity accompanies change. Librarians may enjoy new roles as trusted facilitators who can develop effective and replicable optimization services by delivering measurable value based on metrics that matter to each organization's leadership. The Montana State University (MSU) Library is engaged in Semantic Web research on several fronts, which we will describe in this article. Our concept of “new knowledge work” encompasses the discoverability, accessibility, and usability of content and services in the Semantic Web. In this article, we survey the following new services that libraries can offer their users and campus partners to aid discovery and understanding of resources at the network scale: