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Use Case Regional Catalog

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Regional Catalog


Anette Seiler

Background and Current Practice

In Germany we have no central catalog of all holdings of German libraries. For a library user it is not possible to do a search in a central database of all libraries in Germany. We do have the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (KVK)[1] which does a metasearch (with all the limitations of a meta search) over different databases.

Academic libraries are organized in regional "Verbünde", e.g. the hbz-Verbund. Each Verbund has a central service center, e.g. the Hochschulbibliothekszentrum (hbz) in Cologne[2], where a central catalog for all member libraries of a Verbund is administrated. Cataloging is done into the central database and all additions, changes and deletions are replicated into the local library catalogs. In addition to the central catalog, each service center offers additional centralized services, e.g. portal solutions, ILL, etc. Most of the additional services are build on the central catalog.

The KVK provides a valuable service to the end users, but the need for one central database of library records still exists. For example could ILL be much more efficient with such a tool. There were attempts of some Verbünde to merge their databases, but for political and financial reasons this database was not realized. Another option is to become members of OCLC, but for many libraries there are good reasons not to do so.

We believe that the German Central Catalog could be created more easily when the central service organisations and libraries would publish their bibliographic and holdings data as linked open data.

Of course the same scenario would be possible for central catalogs of a smaller or larger regions than Germany.


  1. To create a database of all holdings of German libraries
  2. Linked data and Semantic Web Technology provide the means to create such a catalog

Target Audience

The main audience for such a catalog would be the library users, who could search all library catalogs through one interface.

Libraries and regional Verbünde would also profit from such a database, for example for ILL.

Use Case Scenario

An end user could search all German libraries at once by formulating a query that is send a search engine built upon one or more triple stores. She would receive an answer of possible hits and libraries holding the items.

A library or centralized institution wants to manage an ILL-request. It queries the search engine built upon one or more triple stores and finds the nearest library to the one sending the request that holds the wanted item.

Application of linked data for the given use case

Libraries and central organizations like the hbz publish their bibliographic and holdings data as linked data in triple store(s). A search engine is build upon the triple store(s). End users can query the search engine. More automated processes like ILL can also query the search engine.

Related Vocabularies (optional)

Vocabularies for publishing bibliographic and holdings data, e.g. BiBO, RDA-vocabulary, etc.

Problems and Limitations

Central organisations and libraries must publish their bibliographic data as linked open data. Problems occur in several ways:

  • There must be the political will to do so. Our experience is, that many institutions do not want to free their data.
  • Legal considerations: who owns the data, especially if it is administrated in a central (Verbund) database? Under which license must the data published?
  • Technical implementation (mapping and serialization of data). Many questions are still open on how to map bibliographic data as RDF triples (e.g. what vocabulary to use, FRBRization, etc.)
  • Many identifiers for the same resource (e.g. a specific book) are created by the different institutions publishing their bibliographic data as linked data. These identifiers must be linked in some way (e.g. owl:sameAs). In Germany the German National Library (DNB) and hbz are at the moment creating a service which will accomplish the following:
    • a resolving service similar to sameas.org that finds synonymous identifiers (not only http-URIs, but also ISNBs, the German National Bibliography number, etc.)
    • a lookup service which enables the end user to enter a identifier and find other identifiers associated with it. Some of the identifiers will be connected as synonyms, others will be listed as related.

Library Linked Data Dimensions / Topics


  • Users needs
    • Browse / explore / select
    • Retrieve / find
    • Identify
    • Access / obtain
  • Systems
    • Library systems
      • MARC Catalogs (in our case: MAB2 not MARC)
      • ILL systems
      • Online reference


  • Legacy data
    • Available pools of linked data (inventory)
    • Status of library-related vocabularies in development (inventory: RDA, FR family, ISBD ...)
    • Translation of data in MARC format to linked data
    • Populating reference data models when legacy data is not perfectly fitting
    • Characteristics of a common model that embraces the legacy of MARC data and the abstractions of FRBR, and makes evident how such a model could be grown coherently to include the varieties of other metadata relevant to the community?
  • Vocabularies
    • Applying FRBR, FRAD, RDA, ISBD
  • Use of Identifiers for and in LLD
    • Identifiers for libraries and other institutions? ISIL, possibly urn:isil: namespace
  • Linking across datasets
  • linked data management, hosting, and preservation
  • Rights
    • Licenses, IP, DRM, other availability/rights/access restriction info

Related Use Cases and Unanticipated Uses (optional)

The data could be used to enhance cataloging:

  • A cataloger can check if the item is already catalogued and when this is the case, import data in her cataloging software
  • Automatic catalogue enrichment, e.g. finding subject headings already assigned to a specific item and inserting it into the own catalog

Related Use Cases:

References (optional)

This section is used to refer to cited literature and quoted websites.