Journal advances solutions for connecting Canada's online cultural heritage

November 30, 2015
Contact: Julienne Pascoe, Metadata Architect - info@canadiana.ca

The Scholarly and Research Communication journal has published Linked Metadata and New Discoveries, a research paper into Canadiana.org's rationale and strategy for restructuring documentary heritage metadata to enhance discovery and access.

Canadiana.org strives to increase the availability of primary-source historical content for learning and research, which led to the 2013-15 digitization of roughly 40 million microfilm archival images. Effective discovery and access to this mostly-handwritten corpus poses significant challenges, but such a large set of content also presents an opportunity to begin describing digital objects on a mass scale using Linked Open Data (LOD).

Bibliographic metadata directly affects users' ability to find and use the correct resources: While traditional metadata consists of publishing descriptive information in and about each record, leaving records unconnected with each other, LOD weaves this information into a web of "data statements" encoded into permanent URIs, or Uniform Resource Identifiers. These structured URIs, readable by software, form an integrated data landscape which will greatly facilitate discovery, access, and re-purposing of the data.

To pilot this gradual transition to LOD, Canadiana.org established a Metadata Consultations Group in 2014 and organized several workshops tasked with developing a LOD resource-description model. The group's work resulted in a white paper, Our Vision: Describing and Linking Canadiana Resources with Linked Open Data, outlining a roadmap for applying LOD to Canadiana resources.

Now, Linked Metadata and New Discoveries outlines the phased approach Canadiana.org is pursuing to enrich its metadata and to build LOD infrastructure, including project partnerships and community-based initiatives (crowdsourcing). In addition, Canadiana.org proposes to work with partners from the academic community to develop tools and interfaces to visualize, data mine, and further build its connected digital resources.