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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Linked data has become a punchline in certain circles of the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) community, derided as a much-hyped project that will ultimately never come to fruition. But the fact is, linked data is already happening now, evident in projects from Big Tech and the Wikimedia Foundation as well as the web pages of library service platforms. The goal of exposing cultural institutions’ records to the web is as important as ever—but for the non-technically minded, linked data can feel like a confusing morass of abstraction, jargon, and acronyms. Get conversant in linked data with this basic introduction from the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS). The book’s expert contributors

  • summarize the origins of linked data, from early computers and the creation of the World Wide Web through RDF;
  • walk readers through the practical, everyday side of creating, identifying, and representing semantically rich linked data using as an example the funk classic Mothership Connection album from the band Parliament;
  • explain the concept of ontologies;
  • explore such linked data projects as Open Graph, DBpedia, BIBFRAME, and’s Bib Extension;
  • offer suggested solo and group entry-level projects for linked data-curious librarians who wish to dive deeper; and
  • provide a handy glossary and links to additional resources.  

This valuable primer on linked data will enable readers at any level of experience to get quickly up to speed on this important subject.


Chapter 1: Enquire Within Upon Everything
The Origins of Linked Data

Chapter 2: Unfunky and Obsolete
From MARC to RDF

Chapter 3: Mothership Connections
URIs and Serializations

Chapter 4: What Is a Thing?
Ontologies and Linked Data

Chapter 5: Once Upon a Time Called Now
Real-World Examples of Linked Data

Chapter 6: Tear the Roof Off the Sucker
Linked Library Data

Chapter 7: Freaky and Habit-Forming
Linked Data Projects That Even Librarians Can Mess Around With

Epilogue: The Unprovable Pudding: Where Is Linked Data in Everyday Library Life?
Figure Credits
About the Authors

Scott Carlson

Scott Carlson is a library software developer for Arizona State University. Previously, he was metadata coordinator at Rice University’s Fondren Library and cataloging and metadata librarian at the American University of Sharjah (in the United Arab Emirates). His favorite P-Funk albums are Maggot Brain, Mothership Connection, and Free Your Mind . . . and Your Ass Will Follow, in that order.

Cory Lampert

Cory Lampert is a professor and the head of digital collections at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is responsible for the strategy and management of digital initiatives for the University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives. Her research interests include implementing linked open data for digital collections, with a focus on empowering librarians to learn through practice. She is active in grant-writing, building collaborative digitization and community engagement partnerships, and mentoring new professionals. Lampert received a BA in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College and an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her favorite P-Funk albums include the well-worn Mothership Connection LP that she bought on a New York City street corner in ’93 and her Maggot Brain/Funkadelic playlist, though she feels there is no substitute for live funk music.

Darnelle Melvin

Darnelle Melvin is the special collections and archives metadata librarian and an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he is responsible for managing metadata activities, remediation projects, and metadata documentation. He researches metadata and resource discovery in relation to digital libraries, repository migrations, and data warehousing. His work explores linked data implementation, metadata remediation tools/ services, workflow engineering and optimization, and semantic and syntactic interoperability. Melvin received his MLIS degree from San José State University and his BA from San Francisco State University. His favorite P-Funk album is The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein.

Anne Washington

Anne Washington is the metadata services coordinator at the University of Houston Libraries, where she is responsible for managing metadata creation and maintenance for the University of Houston digital collections and other repository services. Her research interests include technologies, such as linked data, that have the potential to more broadly expose and connect resources, as well as inclusive, user-centered approaches to metadata. She received her MLIS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her favorite P-Funk albums are Mothership Connection and Chocolate City.


The former Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) are now Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new division of ALA. Its mission is to cultivate and amplify the collective expertise of library workers in core functions through community building, advocacy, and learning.

"The authors offer a frank and honest assessment of the past and present barriers to wider application of linked data ... [The book is] a good introduction to the big picture of what linked data is and how it has the potential to enhance the work already being down by libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. The language and examples are clear and easy to understand and give the reader the confidence to explore further on their own."
— Catalogue and Index

"I definitely applaud the authors attempts to broaden the appeal of a still-evolving and often hard-to-understand concept by unifying it under a running use case theme (in this case, P Funk music) throughout the book. Even if you are not a fan of P Funk, you may become a fan of linked data after reading Linked Data for the Perplexed Librarian."
— Technicalities

"Succeeds in demonstrating the strength and potential of linked data without overwhelming the reader with technical jargon or confusingly out of touch examples ... The authors achieve their goal of producing a work that would be useful for any GLAM professional who wants to know how linked data might impact their profession, while also providing a variety of opportunities to start engaging with linked data themselves."
— Serials Review