May 20, 2022

Conference Paper: “Leaving Comfort Behind: a National Union Catalogue Transition to Linked Data”

The following paper was presented at the Data Intelligence In Libraries: The Actual and Artificial Perspectives in August at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt, Germany.  This event was a satellite meeting to the IFLA WLIC 2019 in Athens, Greece.


Leaving Comfort Behind: a National Union Catalogue Transition to Linked Data


Bodil Wennerlund
National Library of Sweden

Anna Berggren
National Library of Sweden




The last few years the National library of Sweden has been involved in a major infrastructure project. In June 2018, a new version of Libris, the Union Catalogue, was deployed. Libris (XL) is a custom-built open source system based on Bibframe 2.0 and linked open data. With linked data at its core, it creates new ways of opening up data previously locked away in library-specific formats and structures. Thus the information in the library catalogue can be more easily understood by the rest of the web. The catalogue data can be linked to information both inside and outside the library domain. The content of the Swedish Union Catalogue is a joint effort of cataloguers working in more than 500 member libraries. Data is collaboratively edited within the central system.

The transition to new Libris was complex and involved migrating 10 million bibliographic records from MARC to BIBFRAME. The participating libraries have their own local library systems and are dependent on MARC data, why a transition back to MARC from BIBFRAME is necessary before the library systems can digest the incoming data. Because of that all of our import and export routines are still based on MARC. The cataloguing client is the main surface where we expose the new forms and discuss improvements. Cataloguers working in Libris have taken on a major challenge. The new cataloguing editor is format driven and introduces a completely new way of representing the information in Libris.

Adopting our new means of description requires experience and we needed to get the new system in place and improve structures within it. The advantages of linked data has not been immediately obvious. Huge efforts has been made by the cataloguers working in Libris as well as by staff at the National library to improve the system. Extra support has been offered, a lot of expertise has been invested in the preparation of 2 technical documentation, help texts, instruction movies, experts has participated in developing new features and loads of user feedback has been given to the development team

Direct to Full Text
10 pages; PDF.

See Also: A Selection of Papers That Were Presente at the 2019 IFLA WLIC, Athens, Greece

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.