May 19, 2022

New Report OCLC Research : “Creating Library Linked Data with Wikibase: Lessons Learned from Project Passage”

From OCLC Research:

The OCLC Research linked data Wikibase prototype (“Project Passage”) provided a sandbox in which librarians from 16 US institutions could experiment with creating linked data to describe resources—without requiring knowledge of the technical machinery of linked data. This report provides an overview of the context in which the prototype was developed, how the Wikibase platform was adapted for use by librarians, and eight use cases where pilot participants (co-authors of this report) describe their experience of creating metadata for resources in various formats and languages using the Wikibase editing interface. During the ten months of the pilot, the participants gained insight in both the potential of linked data in library cataloging workflows and the gaps that must be addressed before machine-readable semantic data can be fully adopted.

Among the lessons learned:

  • The building blocks of Wikibase can be used to create structured data with a precision that exceeds current library standards.
  • The Wikibase platform enables user-driven ontology design but raises concerns about how to manage and maintain ontologies.
  • The Wikibase platform, supplemented with OCLC’s enhancements and stand-alone utilities, enables librarians to see the results of their effort in a discovery interface without leaving the metadata-creation workflow.
  • Robust tools are required for local data management.
  • To populate knowledge graphs with library metadata, tools that facilitate the import and enhancement of data created elsewhere are recommended.
  • The pilot underscored the need for interoperability between data sources, both for ingest and export.
  • The traditional distinction between authority and bibliographic data disappears in a Wikibase description.

After the pilot, the co-authors of this report discussed the long-term issues raised by their Project Passage experiences and the potential impact of linked data in library resource description workflows. Read the report to find out the key issues and findings, reflections, and areas for future research.

Direct to Full Text Report
92 pages; PDF.

Direct to Project Passage Help Portal


Jean Godby
OCLC Research

Karen Smith-Yoshimura
OCLC Research

Bruce Washburn
OCLC Research

Kalan Knudson Davis
University of Minnesota

Karen Detling
National Library of Medicine

Christine Fernsebner Eslao
Harvard University

Steven Folsom
Cornell University

Xiaoli Li
University of California, Davis

Marc McGee
Harvard University

Karen Miller
Northwestern University

Honor Moody
Harvard University

Craig Thomas
Harvard University

Holly Tomren
Temple University

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.