British Library Research Explorer

The British Library has made the British National Bibliography available as linked data.

The British Library’s strategic vision is to “provide both physical and digital access to world-class information where and when people need it”. The British National Bibliography (BNB) records the publishing activity of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. This has traditionally included printed publications but now increasingly covers electronic publications following extension of legal deposit to this class of material in 2003.

While the British Library has made the BNB available via traditional library channels for many years, specialist expertise was required to re-use the data effectively. In 2010, as part of its open metadata strategy, The British Library began exploring ways in which it might make its data available to a wider, and potentially non-library, audience. The aims of the strategy included: migration from library formats to cross domain standards, collaboration with wider communities, removal of barriers to allow innovation without unnecessary restrictions and adoption of licensing enabling the widest re-use of data. The Library therefore sought feedback from developer communities in order to create new metadata services to meet current expectations and adopted a Creative Commons Zero licensing model to assist re-use.

One specific objective which emerged from the consultation process was to publish the BNB dataset as Linked Open Data. The benefits of a Linked Open Data approach for the British Library include: improved web integration of its resources with increased visibility and opportunities to reach new users, increased flexibility with new options to link to a rich global pool of reusable data to improve services and reduce duplicated effort, new perspectives, staff skills and contacts from collaboration and improved options for developers wanting to work with British Library metadata.

The British Library published BNB metadata for 2.8 million resources, covering 60 years-worth of books, as Linked Open Data in 2011 and the service currently processes 8-9 million transactions per month. However, the BNB is just one dataset the organisation would like to expose as Linked Open Data and its other new open data services are now reaching nearly 600 organisations in 80 countries worldwide. Through its willingness to adopt cutting edge technologies, the British Library continues to be seen as an international leader in the field of bibliographic best practice.