Wrapping up the 2018 International Linked Data Survey for Implementers

In April-May this year we conducted the third “International Linked Data Survey or Implementers” as we were curious what might have changed in the three years since the last survey.  We wanted to learn details of new implementations that format metadata as linked data and/or make subsequent uses of it, and what might have changed in linked data implementations reported in previous surveys.

Eighty-one institutions responded to the 2018 survey, describing 104 linked data projects or services, compared to 71 institutions describing 112 linked data implementations in 2015. Of the 104 linked data implementations, only 42 had been described previously.

I previewed the results in two earlier blog posts, Advice from linked data implementers and The rise of Wikidata as a linked data source.  Code4Lib Journal published my Analysis of the 2018 International Linked Data Survey for Implementers in its November 2018 issue. I summarized the article in my presentation at the SWIB18 (Semantic Web in Libraries) conference in Bonn last week, Linked data implementations—who, what, why?

Among the highlights I’ve noticed and their implications:

  • This was the first time we received responses from service providers, which provide linked data services for their customers. This may lead to fewer individual institutions launching their own linked data projects. Among the 2018 survey respondents, 37% relied at least partially on a system vendor, corporation, or external consultants/developers to implement their linked data project or service, and several respondents were clients of providers who also responded to the survey.
  • 40% of the linked data implementations in production that were described in the 2018 survey had been in production for more than four years. These more mature implementations can serve as exemplars for others.
  • 42% of the “new” responses to the survey (not described in previous surveys) were outside the library domain. We see more linked data initiatives from research institutions and cultural heritage organizations, reflecting a more diverse range and usage of linked data.
  • More respondents reported that their linked data project or service was successful or “mostly” successful in 2018 than in 2015 (56% compared to 41%). The respondents whose linked data implementations had been in production for at least four years commented that their indicators of success were:
    • Usage, evidenced by substantial increases in usage and more contributors
    • Data re-use, shown by other applications make use of their linked data implementations and more bulk downloads
    • Interoperability, providing access to other resources
    • User satisfaction, providing users a richer experience that is much more contextualized and inter-related. One noted their “happy users” were “probably unaware that the service is based on linked data.”
    • Influence, as successful implementations gain attention they’ve influenced other initiatives and moved the discussion on linked data in the library community
    • Professional development, as even absent metrics demonstrating linked data’s value to others, linked data projects still provide professional development for staff.
  • Among those publishing linked data, we observe substantial increases in the use of Schema.org and BibFrame, and decreased usage of SKOS and FOAF, in particular.
  • Among the top ten linked data sources consumed, the biggest change was the surge in consuming Wikidata, more than four times that reported by respondents in 2015. The National Library of Finland observed, “Wikidata is becoming more and more significant for cultural heritage organizations, including our library.”  We also saw big increases in consuming WorldCat.org and ISNI.
  • Most linked data implementations remain experimental or educational in nature. Few are integrated into daily workflows. Commented the Oslo Public Library, “As far as I can see, Oslo Pubic Library is still the first and only library with its production catalogue and original cataloguing workflows done directly with linked data.”

We have updated the Linked Data Survey section on our website which compiles summaries, articles, and presentations about the three surveys and a link to the Excel workbook with the survey responses. The responses to all three surveys (2014, 2015, and 2018), without the contact information which we promised we’d keep confidential, are publicly available in this Excel workbook so you can conduct your own analysis or focus on the institutions that most resemble yours.

Karen Smith-Yoshimura, senior program officer, works on topics related to creating and managing metadata with a focus on large research libraries and multilingual requirements.

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