James Weinheimer’s recent podcast of Cataloging Matters no.14 dealt with how linked data can be viewed in various ways. He concluded that library users needed selection to make sense of that vast network of links.
I retained Weinheimer’s salient point when I viewed the recording of the San Jose State University LIS Colloquium presentation by Deanna Lee today. Deanna Lee is the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at New York Public Library. The subject of her talk was NYPL’s Biblion Project. Biblion is an app that allows NYPL to present digitized archival materials in a manner that provides access to them for a much wider audience. It also allows users to browse the materials in the same fashion that they would browse the shelves of a library. This was a goal of Biblion. Lee wanted users to be able to make serendipitous discoveries. It occurred to me that the Biblion Project is an example of a library making use of the linked data paradigm. All the materials in the collection are linked through the app. Serendipitous discoveries are made by following links.
Lee pointed out that this project could not have been been realized so quickly if the collection didn’t already have a finding aid and had not already been digitized. I need to point out that archival collections are digitized using metadata schemas. Encoded Archival Description (EAD) facilitates the digitization of finding aids. Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) is often used by archives and museums to digitize the items in a collection. So metadata is the foundation for the utilization of linked data. NYPL could not have selected this particular data set if the metadata hadn’t already been made available to them. This is the key to the universe of linked data. So cataloging does indeed matter, and the methods used to catalog materials are crucial. This is the means by which libraries can remain relevant for users.