In an article appearing in the latest issue of EDUCAUSE Review entitled, “Linked data: a way out of the information chaos and toward the semantic web,” Michael A. Keller (University Librarian at Stanford) identifies linked data as one way to better organize information on the web–and in our libraries. The benefit? Computers do the heavy lifting of making data connections, not humans.
Keller points out one specific benefit for library technical services staff:
Because Linked Data environments can (but need not) refer to physical entities, we in the library/cybrary world will be empowered to discard the old metadata structures and the costly and cumbersome methods of assembling them, releasing staff to improve the intellectual reach of our scholars and students, as well as providing new ways of integrating information across silos of content.
The “old metadata structures” Keller refers to are catalog records. A library linked data revolution means moving from record-based metadata expression (chiefly in MARC) to statement-based metadata expression (likely in an RDF-related technology). This change from record to statement impacts the way metadata is stored and retrieved, which will certainly be a challenge for staff supporting library technical infrastructure. Will the move to linked data fundamentally change the way library staff does metadata work? I’m not sure. It’s possible that we’ll all be so busy coping with changes in content standards (RDA) and conceptual models (FRBR) that linked data might not seem so daunting.