In May I attended the LD4 (Linked Data For…) conference in Boston, MA at Harvard Medical Center. I was lucky enough to sit on the program committee which helped plan this event. This was the second LD4 conference — a Mellon-funded initiative to increase linked data use and production in libraries. There were many engaging sessions with excellent presenters. Coming from the Wiki-world, I was anxious to see how many attendees would be interested in the Wikidata sessions – and I was not disappointed!
If attendance, question-asking, and post-session lingering are any indication — linking library resources to Wikidata and using the open data repository to enhance library collections is a popular topic. Although Wikidata has been around for six years, interest in it has reached a tipping point thanks to more data donations, investment from institutions to support Wikidata projects, and proof-of-concept projects that are growing in number. The backbone of the semantic web is getting more robust with Wikidata and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) leading the charge.
Hearing about updates from representatives from the Library of Congress and OCLC were insightful and a wonderful complement to the Wikidata presentations. Production environments for linked data are only now becoming accessible to a wider audience. As part of the planning committee, working to have a more inclusive set of participants was a major concern of mine to reflect wider audiences and their needs. Sessions addressed topics around metadata standards, better serving patrons through catalogs, letting indigenous communities create their own subject headings, as well as integrating services across platforms. They reflected a more diverse set of needs for a more diverse crowd.
We are starting Wikidata courses and workshops at Wiki Education. As these initiatives come together, I see even more reason for libraries to get excited about joining the open data movement. This conference confirmed the curiosity, passion, and resources are there. The potential to have libraries and individual librarians join the community of already-passionate Wikidata editors is an exciting prospect. I’m looking forward to more conversations about realizing the opportunity of linked data and encouraging libraries to share their collections on Wikidata.