RDA Linked Data Forum: 2017 Annual Conference

The RDA (Resource Description and Access) Linked Data Forum was held on Monday, June 26, 2017, with an overflow crowd of approximately 110 people in attendance.

Gordon Dunsire (Chair, RDA Steering Committee, or RSC) presented on “RDA Linked Data Vocabularies Data Management and Use Workflow;” his slides and notes may be found on the RSC website’s presentation page. He described the RDA Registry, which contains linked data and Semantic Web representations of entities, element sets, and value vocabularies approved by the RSC. He explained the data flow from this source that populates the RDA Toolkit with terms, definitions, and vocabularies, a very efficient process because the data is maintained in only one place but re-used in many places. Using the example of “audio disc,” Dunsire walked the group through the data import process and through the re-use of this vocabulary term in additional systems and services. He also described the meaning of the release numbering system for RDA Vocabularies via GitHub, and noted that Release 3.0 will be coming within a year because of the changes to the Person entity driven by the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM).

Diane Hillmann (Metadata Management Associates) spoke on “RDA and Linked Data: Where’s the Beef?” She emphasized that RDA is more than a content standard or set of instructions. It is the “whole package,” an element set, related vocabularies and an ontology, which she described as more integrated than AACR2 and MARC ever were. Hillmann noted that the RDA Registry is optimized to take library data to the next level by including many flavors of output to support systems and services and through its ability to manage data at scale with tools and translations. She encouraged libraries to shift their focus from local catalogs to global scale data.

A lively question and answer session followed. An audience member noted that 23 new codes for value vocabularies represented in the RDA Registry have been assigned to the MARC Genre/Form Code and Term Source Codes list. The group also discussed how catalogers should re-frame their thinking with linked data in mind when using RDA Toolkit, reflecting on the “open world assumption” and the potential solution offered by RDF (Resource Description Framework). Libraries are one player in a global environment, and library information should be universally shared.

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