ArticlePDF Available
Application of linked data technologies in digital
libraries: a review of literature
Zahid Raza, Khalid Mahmood and Nosheen Fatima Warraich
Digital libraries are on the way to
link their data on the Web to serve their
users. Unfortunately, digital libraries
are lagging behind to publish their
quality resources on the Web for wider
community usage. Many libraries are
succeeding in efforts to introduce
modern Web standards in the form of
Semantic Web using linked data
technologies. Web 1.0 had information
characteristics, Web 2.0 was interactive
and now Web 3.0 provides a machine
readable Web, or the Web of Data, or a
Semantic Web. It allows machines to
better understand, interpret and reuse
the meaning of the content just like
humans. Semantic Web has been
created using structured data that allow
computers to understand and interpret
the relationships between entities of
data. Semantic evolution of Web was
also due to the extensive usage of linked
data technologies (Byrne and Goddard,
Haslhofer and Isaac (2011) described
that linked data was a data publishing
technique used on the World Wide Web
to connect related data for the purpose
of accessibility on the Web. Linked data
are based on hypertext transfer protocol
(HTTP), uniform resource identifiers
(URI) and using Semantic Web
standards such as the resource
description framework (RDF) which
allows related data to be connected with
each other and with other related
resources as well. Guerrini (2013)
described that “linked data is a set of
best practices required for publishing
and connecting structured data on the
Web for use by a machine”. Machine
will be capable just like humans to read,
interpret and reuse information using
URIs on the Web to facilitate access.
Linked Open Data (LOD) integrates
open data sets on the Web for wider
usage of the community.
The concept of linked data is closely
data are considered as a brain child of the
Sematic Web. Berners-Lee et al. (2001)
described the Semantic Web as: “an
extension of the current Web in which
information is given well-defined
meaning, better enabling computers and
people to work in cooperation”. The basic
principle of the Semantic Web is to enable
machines to understand and interpret data
on the Web which can be shared and
processed by automatic tools as well as
humans. Machines will not only be able to
display data but also be able to use data for
integration and reuse it for various
applications (Sure and Studer, 2005).
Berners-Lee et al. (2001) described
four rules for the creation of linked data
on the Web:
1. use URIs as names for things;
2. use HTTP URIs so that people
can look up those names;
3. when someone looks up a URI,
provide useful information using
the standards (RDF, SPARQL);
4. include links to other URIs so that
they can discover more things.
Guerrini (2013) described that five star
principles of Tim Berners-Lee should
be opted to expose the data on the Web.
These five stars principles describe the
ascending order of publishing data on
the Web, and the last star was the
ultimate aim of open linked data. These
principles are:
1. one’s own data being available
on the Web (in whatever format);
2. the material put on the Web is
available as structured data (e.g.
in excel instead of as a scanned
image of a table);
3. having chosen nonproprietary
formats (e.g., in csw\instead of
4. having used URL to identify the
objects, so that users can point to
these objects; and
5. one’s own data are linked to data
produced by others so as to define
a context.
This review article presents several key
issues for policy makers, software
developers, decision makers and library
administrators about linked data
technologies and its implementations in
digital libraries. Search engines will
also achieve their longstanding goal to
exploit the quality resources of the
libraries for users to make their Web
appearance more credible and
Change in the digital library
collections in linked data
Traditionally libraries were working
as storehouses of books, journals,
manuscripts, audiovisual material and
other sources of information. On the
emergence of digital and Information
communication technologies (ICT),
libraries also became information
providers without the requirement of
buildings. Digital library and virtual
libraries were the advanced forms of
library services for remote users
(Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Britannica, 2007). In a traditional
library, the catalog is used to locate
conventional library material. With the
existence of electronic information on
the Web, librarians are bound now to
follow the relationship between
libraries and computers. The ICT
revolution is curtailing the traditional
roles of the librarians and libraries
(Ogunsola, 2011).
Sure and Studer (2005) described
that traditional libraries are
transforming into digital libraries.
Digital libraries are developed with the
LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 3 2019, pp. 9-12, V
CEmerald Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/LHTN-10-2018-0067 9
preservation of digital born content and
by following the process of digitization
as well. Digital libraries have made the
accessibility of the information more
productive and effective. The growth of
Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 has provided new
opportunities for users to access their
required information at anywhere and at
any time on the Web. Similarly, Cole
et al. (2013) expressed that the
phenomenon of transformation of
library catalog records into LOD is
evolving. Library metadata is
converting into XML-based metadata
standards for wider community usage
on the Web.
Benefits of linked data applications in
digital libraries
Application of linked data
technologies in digital libraries has
enabled Web users to access quality
information of libraries round-the-clock
on the Web. Linked data technologies
support that information resources
should be available on the Web without
any retrieval restriction. Linked data
technologies use faceted browsing
facility using different linked data
systems to provide required information
of the users (Alemu et al., 2012). Maria
et al. (2016) described in their study that
application of linked data technologies
in libraries has made capable the digital
collection to be viewed by machines on
the Web just like humans. Machines can
better read, interpret and reuse
information using linked data
technologies as to response the human
queries in Semantic Web environment.
Williams (2010) explained in his study
that linked data technologies facilitate
the decentralization of information on
the Web to develop links and
relationships of information on net for
wider access of information. Exposing
library data on the Web will increase the
interest for other professionals of the
world as well (Malmsten, 2009).
Gonzales (2014) pointed out in his
study that if libraries wanted to keep
alive in this modern information
technology world they will have to
adopt LOD initiatives. The remarkable
initiative to motivate libraries to publish
their resources on the Web is the
development of Bibliographic
Framework (BIBFRAME). This XML-
based cataloging standards of metadata
were developed by the Library of
Congress. According to Mitchell
(2013), the emergence of BIBFRAME
is the greatest revolution for the
libraries to publish their metadata and
information resources on the Web.
BIBFRAME facilitates interoperability
of data and provide relationships
between elements of metadata on the
Semantic Web using linked data
Moran (2012) emphasized that the
greatest achievement of the Sematic
Web, and lined open data were that it
allowed the interoperability of the data
between organizations and information
systems. Another big achievement of
the Semantic Web is that its users can
create information about digital objects
using any language, metadata scheme or
classification scheme. Once this
information is linked to that digital
object’s DOI, machines will
automatically integrate that information
scattered over the Web to create a more
comprehensive record of that object.
Alemu et al. (2012) and Borst et al.
(2010) described that linked data
technologies have eliminated the
chances of duplicity of information on
the Web. Tillett (2013) also noted that
space problems of libraries will be
solved by putting information resources
on the Web, and Web will not allow the
chances of duplication. Another
important benefit for the Semantic Web
is that it will have richness of
information using quality libraries data.
Initiatives taken by the libraries
Hallo et al. (2014) point out that
libraries are developing metadata
models based on liked data and are now
involved in new roles such as
publishing data in the forms of authority
files, digital projects, bibliographic
catalogs and information from
Wikipedia. Wilson (2010) describes
that National libraries of the world are
taking a leading role to publish their
bibliographic data across the Web for
free and open access.
Mitchell (2013) and Maria et al.
(2016) describe that linked data
applications are used by Europeana, a
digital collections from museums,
archives and libraries of Europe
including audio visual collection. Its
users can search and share the material
on social media sites. It has semantic
searching URL
europeana/session/search. XML-based
model EDM (Europeana Data Model)
are used, based on the principles and
practice of the Semantic Web and
Linked Data.
The Digital Public Library of
Americana (DPLA) is a comprehensive
initiative in the USA. This project was
formed in 2010 and launched in 2013
with the aim to integrate digital
collections of America’s libraries,
museums and archives. In 2013, the
DPLA started its linked data services
with the collaboration of its 18 partners
for online open access to its over 3,200
collections, and over two million
records (Mitchell, 2013). Maria et al.
(2016) described that the National
Library of France ( has
created the (International MARC)
INTERMARC Bibliographic format to
create semantic technologies.
Library of Congress started linked
data service in 2009. It included
approximately 260,000 records. It
provides access to vocabularies and
standards published by Library of
Congress. Since 2011, Library of
congress started Bibliographic
Framework (BIBFRAME) model which
was an XML-based linked data model
used for interconnection of network
Challenges faced by the digital
libraries in linked data environment
By becoming part of the semantic
cloud or linked data Web, libraries can
better meet user expectations
(Hannemann and Kett, 2010). Similarly
the W3C Library Linked Data Incubator
Group (W3C, 2011) noted that libraries
originally were adopting linked data
technologies at a very slow speed. This
paper also reported that MARC had
been a great obstacle to publish library
metadata and information resources on
the Web for wider community usage.
MARC has rigidity and inflexibility in
its structure and it is also unable to
connect the relationships of its entities
using the Web. This is now possible
with the XML standard that is missing
in MARC (Alemu et al., 2012).
Yadagiri and Ramesh (2013) noted
that privacy concerns of organizations
were a big hurdle to adopt linked data
10 LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 3 2019
technologies in digital libraries.
Gonzales (2014) discussed that
copyright laws and legalities were the
main obstacles to publish data on the
Web. Libraries were endeavoring their
best to gain licenses of various journals,
database and other online resources so
that they could serve their users without
any restriction. While commercial and
noncommercial use of data should be
decided in linked data environments.
Charles et al. (2014) pointed
multilingual and heterogeneous data is
also a big challenge for LOD on the
Hannemann and Kett (2010)
described huge technical infrastructural
development was required which
includes a Web server, digital
preservation system and a resolver that
point out the queries and respond it
quickly. Similarly, Alemu et al. (2012)
described that multifarious technologies
of linked data such as OWL, SPARQL
RDFS and RDF/XML were main
obstacle to implement linked data
technologies in digital libraries.
Berners-Lee et al. (2001) note that
linked data technologies should be
made easy to learn similar to the
experience of HTML during the early
days of Web. The integration of
educational resources across the Web is
facing challenges of equal shared
principles of linked data and schemas
(Dietze et al., 2013).
Concluding remarks
Traditional roles of libraries are
enhanced with open access Web-based
role round-the-clock. Linked data
technologies support that information
resources should be available on the
Web without any retrieval restriction.
Linked data technologies use faceted
browsing facility using different linked
data systems to provide required
information of the users (Alemu et al.,
2012). As already noted, machines can
better read, interpret and reuse
information using linked data
technologies as to response the human
queries in Semantic Web environment.
Williams (2010) explained in his study
that linked data technologies facilitate
the decentralization of information
on the Web and the important specialty
is this that this information is machine
readable just like human readability to
develop links and relationships of
information on net for wider access of
information. Exposing library data on
the Web will increase the interest for
other professionals of the world
(Malmsten, 2009).
The review notes several papers in
which the Web visibility of data has
improved. It has become possible to
link data with other online resources.
Open data recovery has been
introduced, and it has become possible
to access data from multiple institutes
through linked data service.
Interoperability has become possible
due to linked data technologies, and it
has made links of related data such as
author, publisher, place, events and
themes. The credibility of data has been
invigorated by introducing the links of
annotations by users. As others note, it
is recommended that libraries should
use linked data technologies so that
wider community could be facilitated
by the authentic and quality resources of
the libraries on the Web round-the-
The review summarizes the
challenges for some libraries to adopt
this new framework. The literature
reviewed for the study described that
libraries face some challenges as well.
A major area is cataloging as new
standards are difficult for many libraries
to adopt, such as BIBFAME and
Europeana Data Model (EDM). There
are also too many vocabularies and
ontologies to implement linked data
technologies such as Dublin Core,
SKOS and WGS84. As of this writing,
there are still no agreements to access
data online and migrating data to new
models, unavailability of linked data
tools to transform the data and lack of
expertise to deal with linked data tools
and applications, linking or mapping
problems such as MARC records to
FRBR. There are still ownership
challenges and controls, and
multilingual and heterogeneous forms
of data to deal with.
We end with some recommendations
from this reviews:
XML-based metadata standards
based on linked data technologies are
required to be developed that can easily
replace the MARC-based records.
The complex technologies of linked
data need experts who can apply these
technologies in these libraries. For the
purpose, librarians may also be trained
to implement linked data technologies
in their respective digital libraries.
Linked data courses should be
introduced by library and information
science schools.
Conferences, seminars and
workshops should be organized to
enhance the skills of the library
professionals so that they could be
capable to implement linked data
technologies in the libraries.
Professional bodies such as ALA,
Library of Congress, IFLA, OCLC and
W3C should play their role and should
address the challenges to implement
linked data technologies in libraries.
Vendors should coordinate with
librarians to deal with the copyrights
and legal issues. Open license is the
basic requirement for LOD on the
Semantic Web. Library and Information
Science associations such as IFLA,
OCLC, ALA and other leading
associations of library and information
science should play their role for the
availability of data in Open license on
the Web.
Libraries and information centers
along with their concerned professional
associations should play their role to
motivate the concerned higher
authorities about the benefits of linked
data technologies so that it could be
implemented in their respective
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Zahid Raza (zahidraza78697@yahoo.
com) is based at the Department of
Information Management, University of
the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.
Khalid Mahmood ( is Charmian and Nosheen
Fatima Warraich ( is Associate Professor both
at the Department of Information
Management, University of the Punjab,
Lahore, Pakistan.
12 LIBRARY HITECH NEWS Number 3 2019
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