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Use Case Polymath Virtual Library

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Polymath Virtual Library


Fundación Ignacio Larramendi (http://www.larramendi.es) Contact person: Xavier Agenjo (xavier.agenjo@larramendi.es)

Background and Current Practice

Polymath Virtual Library aims to bring together information, data, digital texts and websites about Spanish, Hispano-American, Brazilian and Portuguese polymaths from all times. As such it aggregates information about the thinking, philosophy, politics, science, etc. from Spain, Hispano-American, Portugal and Brazil written in any language (Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese ...) and at any time (since Seneca in the first century BC to the present). It has a web site at http://www.larramendi.es/i18n/estaticos/contenido.cmd?pagina=estaticos/bibliotecaIL

The backbone of the system are the authors. For each author a MARC21/RDA authority record is made and is enriched with biographical data. Specific attributes are categorized to enhance relationships and navigability of the site (profession, occupation, gender, membership, etc..) Other data encoded are birth and death dates, places of birth and death and languages or script use. In that way each authority record aggregates information from multiple sources.

The creation of these authority records are made through the consultation of different trusted sources, they can be authority files, encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, etc.. The sources used for each author vary considerably and may range from the thematic area of medieval philosophy expressed in Latin to modern Spanish science. There are several common sources used for all authors such as LCSH and VIAF. The relationship of a particular author with the data found is done manually.

Also for each author it is described, following MARC/RDA, the digital versions of their works available on the web or scanned and edited by the Fundación Larramendi (HTML, PDF, ePUB, MOBI, etc.)

Similarly, each author is related to other authors (translators, publishers, commentators, etc.), as a way of following the textual transmission of their work. The criteria for selecting the sources and digital editions is key for the system. In that sense we are developing different tools that allows users to provide information about these sources and comments on the contents of the website, both the authors and their works.


  1. Critical collecting of information, data and works of Spanish, Hispanic Americans, Brazilians and Portuguese thinkers.
  2. Increase the efficiency of this collection through semiautomatic enrichment of data, obtaining URIs from available in LOD and offer data in LOD to enhance its visibility and use (mainly throughout aggregators as Hispana or Europeana).

Target Audience

Scholars, Digital Text Editors, Libraries, Web Site Editors (in related fields), Aggregators (Hispana, Europeana)

Use Case Scenario

Users can search and retrieve a specific author. They can read biographical data and the fundamental characteristics of their works.

Users can go directly to digital texts of these authors available at the site or redirect to a different location.

Users can select the works that interest them, download them or form their own library available for consultation at any time.

Users may consult other sources of information that can offer more information and even controversial data.

Users can add comments, highlight controversial data, complement information, or link to other sources of information.

Users can navigate within the site to other authors from the same period, the same geographical area, the same language, the same subjects, which belonged to the same institution, which form a school or movement.

The same navigation elements can be used as search topics.

Application of linked data for the given use case

The use of linked data will benefit the Polymath Virtual Library in improving the process of obtaining links from different sources and spreading the type of these sources. These data are personal and corporate names, biographies, geographic names, subjects, etc. Once a critical mass could be integrated in the site the data could be represented in different ways as timelines, geographically or as a a map of scientific relationships between works, people, institutions, or movements. This greatly open search and retrieval capabilities the site as a source node.

On the other hand, being a specialized subject with a dense network of relationship the Polimath Virtual Library can contribute to built specific relationships in the aggregators (Hispana or Europeana) to which Polymath Virtual Library provide its content in the form of RDF files and using RDFa.

Existing Work (optional)

  • LCSH and NACO Browser
  • LinkedLCCN
  • BBC Music

Related Vocabularies (optional)

  • VIAF
  • LCSH
  • Linked Data Services der DNB
  • Instituto Geográfico Nacional (España)
  • EDM
  • DBpedia

Problems and Limitations (optional)

The automatic acquisition of URIs can find the problem that the labels of things in LOD could not fully match the names in the records. This includes not only mechanisms for disambiguation (Madrid, Spain, Madrid, U.S., Madrid, Mexico), but also to elucidate when the data sought and the data found are the same. This can't be done in a completely automatic way and less even in a multilingual and multiscript environment. The combination of SPARQL with distributed search protocols such as SRU / OpenSearch would help.

Related Use Cases and Unanticipated Uses (optional)

References (optional)