Yesterday The Semantic Link Podcast featured Karen Coyle, a consultant in library technology who’s consulted for esteemed institutions including the Library of Congress. Coyle discussed libraries’ long history with metadata, including with the MARC (machine-readable cataloging) format for nearly 50 years, and of sharing that metadata. That history helps explain why libraries, she said, are looking at semantic web technology – but also why changes to established processes are huge undertakings. “The move toward Linked Data will be the most significant change in library data in these two centuries,” she said, requiring the move from mainly textual data into using identifiers for things and data instead of strings.
Today, The Semantic Web Blog continues the discussion by sharing some perspectives on the topic from OCLC technology evangelist Richard Wallis. As noted in yesterday’s podcast, change has its challenges. “Getting the library community to get its head around Linked Data as a replacement for MARC … will be a bit of a challenge,” Wallis says. While more members of the library community are starting to “get” Linked Data, and what can be accomplished by extracting entities and linking between them, some still struggle with why change can’t just occur within the MARC format itself or its successor Resource Description and Access (RDA), that provides atomistic, machine-actionable data and machine-interpretable relationships. RDA, Wallis reminds us, took a decade from inception to publication and business model.