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Paper – Wikidata: a platform for your library’s linked open data

Wikidata: a platform for your library’s linked open data by Stacy Allison-Cassin, Dan Scott. code{4}lib Issue 40, 2018-05-04

“Creating and using linked open data (LOD) in library and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) projects has historically been associated with a high level of institutional requirements. Erik et al (2015) asserted “the fact that LAM institutions are still having to select triplestores, SPARQL engines, indexing platforms, and other services means that there is still a relatively high bar for institutions to cross in taking up LD projects”. The requirement to select, host, and administer all of these systems establishes technical and resource barriers that can prevent organizations and individuals from participating in LOD entirely (Goddard and Byrne, 2010). Creating and publishing LOD has traditionally required technical skills to transform relational data, to support content-negotiation and alternate serializations, and to understand vocabularies and ontologies typically documented in RDFS or OWL. Wikidata, launched in 2012 by the Wikimedia Foundation as the machine-readable store for all Wikimedia Foundation projects, is a freely available hosted platform that anyone–including libraries–can use to create, publish, and use LOD. Powered by Blazegraph, the platform offers a triplestore and high-availability SPARQL endpoint that (as of April 2018) has served roughly 3 million queries per day over the past year (Wikimedia Foundation, n.d.); a full text search engine; and is administered by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its vocabulary is published and editable alongside other items in the platform using the same relatively user-friendly interfaces. In effect, Wikidata has responded to the barriers identified by Erik et al and Goddard and Byrne by providing a ready-made platform for any person or organization that wants to create, publish, and use LOD, including libraries. In their 2016 IFLA discussion paper, Bartholomei et al noted “[t]he potential of Wikidata to draw linked open data and linked open data authorities together across the world’s languages and many different ontologies and taxonomies has enormous potential to support researchers around the world.” The platform is increasingly important as a general LOD resource and as a “linking hub”, recognized in 2013 by Klein and Kyrios as they worked on integrating VIAF data into Wikipedia [7]. At the first Wikidata Conference, van Veen (2017) boldly suggested Wikidata could be both a linking hub and source of library authority data. As of February 2018, Wikidata now offers links to external data with more than 2,500 identifiers. An international, multilingual, community-based project, Wikidata is a practical choice for use by libraries, and requires all contributions to be licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 “No rights reserved” licence. This licence allows the contents (49 million items as of February 2018) to be used in any project without the cumbersome attribution requirements of other open data licenses, and ensures that every contribution to the repository broadens the range of freely available data…”

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