BIBFRAME and linked data

I recently attended a seminar hosted by the Dallas Public Library (DPL) about their experience being an early adopter of the BIBFRAME (BF) standard and how they were able to implement this framework on their catalog. While I will not go into exactly what BF is in this post (that will come later), I will detail the highlights of the meeting in the hopes that they can facilitate the discussion on BF and possibly help a library who wants to begin pursuing the use of BF for their institution.

To give a simple and basic introduction to BF, I will say that it is a library specific encoding standard that makes data machine readable and therefore findable through more platforms that just an OPAC. It also allows this data to cross reference with other information thereby creating a fuller knowledge base. This standard is based off of Tim Berners-Lee‘s idea of the Semantic Web and how the internet should actually be an interconnected web of information.

Libraries are late adopters of the Semantic Web, but thanks to BF, we are starting to catch up. The DPL’s place as being one of the few early adopters of BF allows them to be on the bleeding edge of forming this standard along side the Library of Congress (LC).

In order to put their catalog online, they chose to work with the company, Zepheira. This same company is also works with the LC to develop this standard, so Zepheira has been a part of BF from it’s inception. The DPL’s process of going from catalog to linked data live online requires quite a few steps. I will try to simplify them here:

  1. They receive/place catalog records in their database as normal using RDA and MARC.
  2. They export those MARC records and use MarcEdit to tranform them to MARC21.
  3. They upload those MARC21 records to Zepheira.
  4. Zepheira transforms those MARC21 records to BF linked data records and preps them for uploading to the DPL’s LibraryLink site.
  5. Zepheira then uploads the BF records to the LibraryLink site and waits for Google and other search engines to crawl the web and find these new linked records.
  6. Once Google indexes the records, they are now findable online through Google’s search engine and will appear in the results queue.
  7. The link that a searcher clicks on in the search results then automatically directs them through the LibraryLink site and into the DPL catalog.

This is a gross oversimplification, but it demonstrates the basics of how the DPL’s records are findable online. A lot of the BF transformation work is handled by Zepheira in this instance and since Zepheira is working with LC in creating the standard, the DPL likes that they are using the latest and greatest version of BF.

Transforming record via an intermediary service seems to be the best way to make BF work at this point since the library version of linked data is still in its early stages. Hopefully this helps clear up some basic questions of how a library can currently make use of BF and make their catalog available to the wider linked world.