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Stanford Libraries awarded $4 Million grant to implement linked data metadata environment

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Stanford, CA—A proposal to dramatically shift how libraries create metadata and greatly improve how users discover library holdings has been accepted and awarded to Stanford Libraries by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In partnership with the libraries of Cornell, Harvard and the University of Iowa, Stanford will lead the effort to integrate library data into the Web, in a semantic way, so it can be discovered intelligently in Web searches as well as in a library’s catalogue. “By taking advantage of the semantic web, library users can directly benefit from other important data sources on the Web,” said Philip Schreur, Associate University Librarian for Technical Services at Stanford Libraries. “The Web is an international environment, by shifting to linked data, libraries worldwide can take advantage of the existing bibliographic and authoritative data many national libraries create and make available as linked data.” The Mellon grant will allow Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Iowa to implement a prototype environment, from metadata acquisition/creation through to discovery. An important enhancement in this round of funding will be collaborating with the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) and the Library of Congress to expand the number of libraries implementing linked data. According to Schreur, the choice of working with the PCC was deliberate. “Within the United States, we work within the concept of a virtual, distributed ‘national library’ for the creation of high-level metadata, so PCC provides the community with a forum for the development of policy and training programs for member libraries, thereby expanding the success rate for transitioning to linked data among the broader academic library community,” Schreur adds. Since the 1960s, libraries have been following Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) standards for the communication of metadata about resources in their catalogues. MARC was considered revolutionary in its day, allowing data from library card catalogs to be encoded in machine readable form, enabling the catalog cards to be reproducible on the computer screen and the data to be exchanged freely among libraries. Originally designed for magnetic tape-based computers, the standards are now only understood by library systems. Failure to speak the language of the Web has isolated libraries from the broader world of information developing there.

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