Sharing Cultural Heritage the Linked Open Data Way: Why You Should Sign Up

As galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMS) are redefining their role as nodes in a wider network of content creators and providers, open innovation becomes key. GLAMS across the world are beginning to explore the added value of sharing data resources following the so-called linked open data (LOD) principles. In this presentation, we provide an overview of the practical uses and implications of using Linked Open Data through four projects currently running in the heritage domain. With the explosive growth of the LOD cloud of datasets, which has doubled in size every 10 months since 2007[1], more and more meaningful applications can be explored. This ranges from basic access to distributed information sources to more advanced scenarios supporting scholars in asking new research questions or posing old questions in new ways. GLAMS have much to offer:

– incredibly rich and structured data sets accumulated over many years by subject experts

– ability to reach out to audiences to both enrich datasets and to evaluation services

– long-standing expertise in meta-data management and (co-)curation

– authoritative knowledge on a wide range of subjects

Parallel to activities in the area of open government data, an increasing number of so-called \’hackathons\’, \’culture hack days\’ and \’LOD-LAM[2] events\’ are organized, aimed at promoting the uptake of the Linked Data Principles[3]. Unfortunately, these events mainly attract developers rather than policy makers or curators working at institutions. In this contribution, we describe four projects in which GLAMs collaborate closely with outside developers to show the wide potential of LOD.

1. In Agora[4], the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision collaborate with the Computer Science and History departments at the VU to integrate their collections and enrich them with historical information to facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the historical dimension of objects in online heritage collections.

2. Europeana is a pan-European initiative that provides access to millions of objects as Linked Open Data. The Europeana Thought Lab[5] search interface shows how LOD principles can aid the search process. Europeana has been a strong supporter for the uptake of CC0;  the \”no rights reserved\” in Creative Commons-licenses.

3. The Amsterdam Museum was the first museum in the Netherlands to convert its complete museum collection database to RDF. The resulting resource consists of more than 5 Million RDF triples describing over than 70.000 cultural heritage objects related to the city of Amsterdam[6]. We discuss several working examples that use this dataset, such as a mobile city guide.

4. Open Images[7] provides access to a large and growing collection of Creative Commons licensed archive material. The meta-data is converted to RDF, allowing the creation of rich semantic links between other datasets such as the the Amsterdam Museum dataset.

In discussing the lessons-learned within the above projects,  we will be offer practical guidelines to start working with LOD, including key topics such as publishing and aligning datasets, developing new services and managing copyrights.