We have finally made public a couple amazing threads of work — years in the making — that tie together two key concepts and technologies.
The first of these is the concept of “works”. Building on the concept of “works” from the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records produced by IFLA, we have spent years working on an algorithm to produce a “work record” that aggregates manifestations around a single entity. This is not simply an academic exercise — we (and by this I mean my colleagues, not me) have been using real (and I mean actual and messy) data to do it. There are so many people to thank, but they certainly include Diane Vizine-Goetz, JD Shipengrover, Roger Thompson, Harry Wagner, as well as many others.
The implications of this are hard to over-emphasize. Some of the key benefits that we are keen to realize are those that accrue to the multilingual world we inhabit. By aggregating various translations of works around a single identifier, we can then present the record that a particular user wishes to see given their language capabilities. My colleague Karen Smith-Yoshimura has been leading the charge on this.
Another benefit is the ability to “roll-up” added value into the work record. That is, if one record has the table of contents it can enrich the work record. So can all of the subject headings that have been assigned. Anything that has been added to a single record can help enrich the collective record.
The second is the linked data versions of these records that are now exposed for anyone to use. For more on this, I think you are better off reading Richard Wallis’ explanation of it. But for me, one of the cool things we (again, not me, but my colleagues such as Jean Godby, Thom Hickey, Ted Fons, Mike Teets, Jeff Young, Jenny Toves, Tod Matola, Jeff Mixter, Richard Wallis, the folks named above and others as well) have done is to expose this data not just in all kinds of machine actionable ways, but also in human-browseable form:
You can check it out yourself.
The bottom line is this: no one, anywhere, has put more thought and work into creating work records than us. Now the output of all of this work — years in the making — is now freely available on the web as actionable linked data. That is why this is the most important thing you have never heard of. Until now.
Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.