Report on a complex, ongoing project
In connection with the 250th anniversary of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (BFO) in 2015, the Bergen Public Library has entered into a collaboration with the orchestra on scanning and cataloguing their concert programme from 1765 until the present day, for the purposes of historical documentation.
Since the 1990s, the library has scanned and made available the legacy left in Edvard Grieg’s will of music manuscripts, letters, concert programmes et cetera. We wish to find good ways of linking much of this material together, so that the general public and researchers can easily find the material they need, at their level and in a user-friendly manner.
In 2012, Bergen Public Library received project funding from the National Library of Norway to test Linked Open Data in their work to disseminate the material from BFO. The purpose of the project is to make the library’s metadata for special collections freely available as a dataset and to disseminate the described content in an optimal manner.
The project will explore the possibility of presenting the library’s own material and that of others in new ways that show the association between the digital object and other documents in the library’s and in other collections.
The project will further develop rich metadata by linking together web sources with catalogue data and make these available in open formats which others can use and continue to build on. A great deal of work has been done on prototyping the search interface as well as on developing the presentation and communication interface in collaboration with external specialists. This work is still ongoing, and it appears difficult to find a satisfactory interface.
Many practical aspects of Linked Open Data remain unresolved, and issues such as different use of vocabulary present problems when data is to be synchronized, for example in a web application.
The project has been an internal collaboration between personnel from the library’s IT and music departments. Work on the computer model has required composite skills with knowledge of modelling and web technology on the one hand, and knowledge of music and cataloguing of music on the other.
A large amount of cataloguing has been carried out to test the data models. The data are converted using Google Refine. We have found the greatest challenge to be the absence of a good cataloguing client, and a considerable amount of time has therefore been spent on structuring and modelling the metadata.
A demo has been developed for the project in order to ascertain specific challenges with regard to use of data from different sources. The solution has been developed in collaboration with Fludo, a small start-up company which specializes in visualization on mobile surfaces.
Parts of the application have been developed in cooperation with the project Linked data – a network! in which Bergen Public Library took part in 2012/13, together with Bergen University Library and the university library of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology/NTNU.
In the past few years, the focus on open library data has been mainly on infrastructure, modelling and data conversion. This has been necessary to make the data available, but little attention has been paid to how to create attractive services and interfaces for users, based on this data.
The solution also contains a tool to collate various data and a search function with the possibility to filter the results.
The experiences from our work with the interface confirm some of the assumptions about the flexibility provided by RDF and the triple structure, and allow a new approach to cataloguing, linking and publishing information.
The experiences have also given us an insight into the various challenges with regard to building services on open data, particularly how data from different sources can be explored in one and the same interface.
The demo includes the following functions:
- Search, with filtering based on type and tag
- Display of external data from other sources
- Triple-based CMS for creation and display of collections
- Link for editing resources
- Copyright information on the resources
- Drilldown into the data set and external data sets
- Possibility of highlighting particularly interesting content
- Photos, timelines and map display.
Most of the BFO’s concert programmes from the 1860s have been scanned, and to make these available while we work on cataloguing and publishing the associated metadata, we have published them on Issuu (http://issuu.com/bergenbibliotek).
In the work to release and link our own data we are coming across issues that a changing librarianship must actively address. Competence in new technologies, a shift to new working methods and mindsets, questions regarding licences and cownership, and new forms of cooperation are what we learn from.
It is a matter of national importance that the libraries establish competence on these issues, and we want others to be able to build further on our results and experiences.
Find optimal solutions
As we see it, the great paradigm shift in the library world is associated with change in metadata, and its proliferation. In Norway we need many experiments related to the different disciplines in order to find optimal solutions for this, and in various contexts we come across the need for more knowledge about Linked Data.
Publication platforms for special collections are something with which the ABM (archive, library and museum) sector has worked extensively, and we hope that by the end of the project in the spring of 2015, we can offer a contribution in this field.