May 22, 2022

University of Pennsylvania: “How Penn’s Librarians are Using Linked Data to Make the Web Better”

From Penn Libraries:

“Linked data is the language of the web,” says Beth Camden, Director of Information Processing. “It’s building the infrastructure that makes the web better.”

For the past year, Camden and a team of linked data editors, including Digital Library Strategist and Metadata Architect John Mark Ockerbloom and Head of Metadata Research Jim Hahn, have been harnessing the power of linked data to connect people with information about the Penn Libraries and its collections, even if those people never visit our website. As part of a pilot project run by the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, the team has been carefully and systematically adding information about materials in the Penn Libraries’ collections to Wikidata, an open and easily editable type of linked data dataset that is part of the suite of products created by the Wikimedia Foundation that also includes Wikipedia. To date, the Penn Libraries team has added over 5,000 new “items”–each representing an individual serial, publication, person, institution, academic department, or related thing of interest to library users–and edited over 7,000 others. The Penn Libraries is just one of 74 institutions involved in this project.


Linked data gives Penn Libraries staff the power to connect items from our collections with information about those items from across the web. Take the Journal of Biological Chemistry, one of the many publications that is part of Deep Backfile, a project to identify and make available out-of-copyright academic journals in the Penn Libraries collections. Its Wikidata entry includes information about its publication dates, founder, editors, copyright status, and even the number of people who follow it on Twitter.  While much of this information could also be found in our online catalog, by putting the information in Wikidata, it becomes part of the larger, interconnected web, allowing more people to find the journal–even if it wasn’t exactly what they were searching for.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (1174 words)

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.