Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Open Bibliographic Data in Germany: More to Come?

From ResourceShelf:

This time both public and academic libraries in the Cologne, Germany area are offering cataloging data

From the Announcement

Cologne-based libraries and the Library Centre of Rhineland-Palatinate (LBZ) in cooperation with the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz) are the first German libraries to adopt the idea of Open Access for bibliographic data by publishing their catalog data for free public use. The University and Public Library of Cologne (USB), the Library of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the University Library of the University of Applied Science of Cologne and the LBZ are taking the lead by releasing their data. The Public Library of Cologne has announced to follow shortly. The release of bibliographic data forms a basis for linking that data with data from other domains in the Semantic Web.

Libraries have been involved with the Open Access movement for a long time. The objective of this movement is to provide free access to knowledge to everybody via the internet. Until now, only few libraries have done so with their own data. Rolf Thiele, deputy director of the USB Cologne, states: “Libraries appreciate the Open Access movement because they themselves feel obliged to provide access to knowledge without barriers. Providing this kind of access for bibliographic data, thus applying the idea of Open Access to their own products, has been disregarded until now. Up to this point, it was not possible to download library catalogues as a whole. This will now be possible. We are taking a first step towards a worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.” The library of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has already published its data under a public domain license in January.


The North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center has recently begun evaluating the possibilities to transform data from library catalogs in such a way that it can become a part of the emerging Semantic Web. The liberalization of bibliographic data provides the legal background to perform this transformation in a cooperative, open, and transparent way. Currently there are discussions with other member libraries of the hbz library network to publish their data. Moreover, “Open Data” and “Semantic Web” are topics that are gaining perception in the international library world.

Additional information in English
Additional Info (in German) and Links to Access Data

1 comment:

Inkling said...

Could someone explain why this is news?

For years, most university libraries and many public libraries have had their catalogs listed in WorldCat and virtually every library of any size, university or public, now has direct Internet access to its catalog. From the standpoint of the typical researcher, we already have "worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.”

And yes, I know that if all this bibliographical data were available "as a whole," people could use it to generate those weird 'Semantic Web" graphics, filled with lines of different colors. We might learn, for instance, that a particular book was more likely to be in the collections of Berlin universities than in those in Munich.

But it's hard to see that as a great triumph for Open Access. At best it represents a political defeat for those who wanted WorldCat to have a near monopoly on this sort of data.