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Session Proposal: A directory of GLAM institution location and event data

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Wouldn’t it be fantastic if any search engine could give you highly accurate information about libraries, archives, galleries, and museums in your area? They can, of course, and some do just that by relying on data maintained in social media sites like Google+–as long as that secondary source of data is kept up to date. However, most GLAM institutions already publish web pages that include their name, location, opening hours, contact information, and events in human-readable format, but fail to maintain even a subset of that information with secondary data sources such as the WorldCat Registry.

The http://schema.org/Libraryhttp://schema.org/ArtGallery, and http://schema.org/Museum classes (note: missing an Archive class!) and related vocabulary offers most of the vocabulary we need to express this information as linked open data. Using serializations such as RDFa or JSON-LD, GLAM institutions should be able to publish linked open data that matches the human-readable data, and the Evergreen library system has been doing just that for the past year. Sadly, however, the schema.org pages for GLAM institutions (LibraryArtGalleryMuseum) currently claim that fewer than a thousand domains have used this approach to making their locations available to the world. We can do better.

Let’s discuss how we can enable GLAM institutions to publish this fundamental linked open data, possibly through the adoption of templates in content management systems such as Drupal and Joomla, and figure out what practical steps we can take to make this happen in our own parts of the world.

Updated 2015-06-28 to be more inclusive of GLAM institutions in general.


  1. Adrian Pohl

    June 25, 2015

    Hello Dan,

    your proposal reminds me of our pre-schema.org initiative to get libraries publishing information about themselves as RDFa on their websites. (See this post from 2010: http://blog.lobid.org/2010/07/building-linked-data-based-index-of.html.) This never became wide practice, though. One reason ist that for university libraries it often is very hard to impossible to inject some structured data into their webpages when the website runs on a university-wide CMS. Another reason is, that in Germany we already have some up-to-date central data bases with library descriptions so that the need for decentral descriptions isn’t really there.

    There is a library address database which also serves as ISIL registry (http://sigel.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/nc/suche/) and is core to ILL practices. The result is data about lots of organisations (including museums) that is kept up-to-date quite well. Also, the “Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik” (German Library Statistics) annually collects library figures where people also keep some data (address, collection size, library type etc.) about their institution up-to-date.

    Building on these two datasets, we put the library descriptions and ISIL address data together, transformed it to schema.org-based JSON-LD with some additional non-schema.org properties and provide an API with elasticsearch. See the result (it’s still beta but already works quite well) at http://beta.lobid.org/organisations. You will find a lot of example descriptions in JSON-LD (sorry, no HTML yet) for your session there, e.g. http://beta.lobid.org/organisations/DE-6 . Also, please let us know if you find some problems with our usage of schema.org.

    All the best and have a great LODLAM summit!

    • Profile photo of Dan Scott

      Dan Scott

      June 25, 2015

      Awesome, Adrian! I recognize the challenges of IT infrastructure well; in the next few weeks I hope to actually gain some measure of control over my own university library web site to integrate LOD (beyond what we already publish via Evergreen).

      It’s great to hear that Germany has had some success in creating accurate library data aggregations–and in some ways not very surprising, given how far ahead Europe in general seems to be compared to North America on the LOD front. The tie in with ILL makes perfect sense! I’ll definitely look into the lobid.org data sets (in transit on the way to the LODLAM summit right now); it sounds extremely promising, and with any luck there will be some attendees at the summit who can provide more insight into what sounds like a potential model for other areas.

      Thanks again!

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  1. Proposed a LODLAM session on publishing library location and event data: http://summit2015.lodlam.net/2015/06/24/session-proposal-a-directory-of-library-location-and-event-data/06-24-15