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German National Library publishes 11.5 Million MARC records from national bibliography

- July 1, 2013 in Data, national library

In January 2012 the German National Library (DNB) already started publishing the national bibliographc as linked data under a CC0 license. Today, the DNB announced that it also publishes the national bibliography up to the year 2011 as MARC data. The full announcement reads as follows (quick translation by myself):
“All of German National Library’s title data which are offered under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license for free use are now available gratis as MARC 21 records. In total, these are more than 11.5 Million title records. Currently title data up to bibliography year 2011 is offered under a Creative Commons Zero license (CC0). For using the data a registration free of charge is necessary. Title data of the current and the previous year are subject to charge. The CC0 data package will be expanded by one bibliography year each first quarter of a year. It is planned to provide free access under CC0 conditions to all data in all formats in mid-2015. The German National Library thus takes into account the growing need for freely available metadata.”
As the MARC data contains much more information than the linked data (because not all MARC fields are currently mapped to RDF) this is good news for anybody who is interested in getting all the information available in the national bibliography. As DNB still makes money with selling the national bibliography to libraries and other interested parties it won’t release all bibliographic data until the present day into the public domain. It’s good to see that there already exist plans to switch to a fully free model in 2015. See also Lars Svensson: Licensing Library and Authority Data Under CC0: The DNB Experience (pdf).

Importing Spanish National Library to BibServer

- August 7, 2012 in BibServer, Data, JISC OpenBib, national library, OKFN Openbiblio, wp5, wp6

The Spanish National Library (Biblioteca Nacional de España or BNE) has released their library catalogue as Linked Open Data on the Datahub. Initially this entry only containd the SPARQL endpoints and not downloads of the full datasets. After some enquiries from Naomi Lillie the entry was updated with links to the some more information and bulk downloads at: This library dataset is particularly interesting as it is not a ‘straightforward’ dump of bibliographic records. This is best explained by Karen Coyle in her blogpost. For a BibServer import,  the implications are that we have to distinguish the types of record that is read by the importing script and take the relevant action before building the BibJSON entry. Fortunately the datadump was made as N-Triples already, so we did not have to pre-process the large datafile (4.9GB) in the same manner as we did with the German National Library dataset. The Python script to perform the reading of the datafile can be viewed at A complicating matter from a data wrangler’s point of view is that the field names are based on IFLA Standards, which are numeric codes and not ‘guessable’ English terms like DublinCore fields for example. This is more correct from an international and data quality point of view, but does make the initial mapping more time consuming.

 So when mapping a data item like we need to dereference each fieldname and map it to the relevant BibJSON entry. As we identify more Linked Open Data National Bibliographies, these experiments will be continued under the BibServer instance.

Bringing the Open German National Bibliography to a BibServer

- June 18, 2012 in BibServer, Data, event, Events, jiscopenbib2, national library, wp5

This blog post is written by Etienne Posthumus and Adrian Pohl. We are happy that the German National Library recently released the German National Bibliography as Linked Open Data, see (announcement). At the #bibliohack this week we worked on getting the data into a BibServer instance. Here, we want to share our experiences in trying to re-use this dataset.

Parsing large turtle files: problem and solution

The raw data file is 1.1GB in a compressed format – unzipped it is a 6.8 GB turtle file. Working with this file is unwieldy, it can not be read into memory or converted with tools like rapper (which only works for turtle files up to 2 GB, see this mail thread). Thus, it would be nice if the German National Library could either provide one big N-Triples file that is better for streaming processing or provide a number of smaller turtle files. Our solution to get the file into a workable form is to make a small Python script that is Turtle syntax aware, to split the file into smaller pieces. You can’t use the standard UNIX split command, as each snippet of the split file also needs the prefix information at the top and we do not want to split an entry in the middle, losing triples. See a sample converted N-Triples file from a turtle snippet.

Converting the N-Triples to BibJSON

After this, we started working on parsing an example N-Triples file to convert the data to BibJSON. We haven’t gotten that far, though. See for the resulting code (work in progress).


We noted problems with some properties that we like to document here as feedback for the German National Library.

Heterogeneous use of dcterms:extent

The dcterms:extent property is used in many different ways, thus we are considering to omit it in the conversion to BibJSON. Some example values of this property: “Mikrofiches”, “21 cm”, “CD-ROMs”, “Videokassetten”, “XVII, 330 S.”. Probably it would be the more appropriate choice to use dcterms:format for most of these and to limit the use of dcterms:extent to pagination information and duration.

URIs that don’t resolve

We stumbled over some URIs that don’t resolve, whether you order RDF or HTML in the accept header. Examples:,, Also, DDC URIs that are connected to a resource with dcters:subject don’t resolve, e.g.


At a previous BibServer hackday, we loaded the Britsh National Bibliography data into BibServer. This was a similar problem, but as the data was in RDF/XML we could directly use the built-in Python XML streaming parser to convert the RDF data into BibJSON. See: for the source.

Linked Data at the Biblioteca Nacional de España

- February 2, 2012 in Data, Guest post, lod-lam, national library, Semantic Web

The following guest post is from the National Library of Spain and the Ontology Engineering Group (Technical University of Madrid (UPM)). is an initiative of the Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE) whose aim is to enrich the Semantic Web with library data. This initiative is part of the project “Linked Data at the BNE”, supported by the BNE in cooperation with the Ontology Engineering Group (OEG) at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). The first meeting took place in September 2010, whereas the collaboration agreement was signed in October 2010. The first set of data was transformed and linked in April 2011, but a more significant set of data was done in December 2011. The initiative was presented in the auditorium of the BNE on 14th December 2011 by Asunción Gómez-Pérez, Professor at the UPM and Daniel Vila-Suero, Project Lead (OEG-UPM), and by Ricardo Santos, Chief of Authorities, and Ana Manchado Mangas, Chief of Bibliographic Projects, both from the BNE. The attendant audience enjoyed the invaluable participation of Gordon Dunsire, Chair of the IFLA Namespace Group. The concept of Linked Data was first introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in the context of the Semantic Web. It refers to the method of publishing and linking structured data on the Web. Hence, the project “Linked Data at the BNE” involves the transformation of BNE bibliographic and authority catalogues into RDF as well as their publication and linkage by means of IFLA-backed ontologies and vocabularies, with the aim of making data available in the so-called cloud of “Linked Open Data”. This project focuses on connecting the published data to other data sets in the cloud, such as VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) or DBpedia. With this initiative, the BNE takes the challenge of publishing bibliographic and authority data in RDF, following the Linked Data Principles and under the CC0 (Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication) open license. Thereby, Spain joins the initiatives that national libraries from countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany have recently launched.

Vocabularies and models

IFLA-backed ontologies and models, widely agreed upon by the library community, have been used to represent the resources in RDF. is one of the first international initiatives to thoroughly embrace the models developed by IFLA, such as the FR models FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data), FRSAD (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data), and ISBD (International Standard for Bibliographic Description). FRBR has been used as a reference model and as a data model because it provides a comprehensive and organized description of the bibliographic universe, allowing the gathering of useful data and navigation. Entities, relationships and properties have been written in RDF using the RDF vocabularies taken from IFLA; thus FR ontologies have been used to describe Persons, Corporate Bodies, Works and Expressions, and ISBD properties for Manifestations. All these vocabularies are now available at Open Metadata Registry (OMR), with the status of published. Additionally, in cooperation with IFLA, labels have been translated to Spanish. MARC21 bibliographic and authority files have been tested and mapped to the classes and properties at OMR. The following mappings were carried out:
  • A mapping to determine, given a field tag and a certain subfield combination, to which FRBR entity it is related (Person, Corporate Body, Work, Expression). This mapping was applied to authority files.
  • A mapping to establish relationships between entities.
  • A mapping to determine, given a field/subfield combination, to which property it can be mapped. Authority files were mapped to FR vocabularies, whereas bibliographic files were mapped to ISBD vocabulary. A number of properties from other vocabularies were also used.
The aforementioned mappings will be soon available to the library community and thus the BNE would like to contribute to the discussion of mapping MARC records to RDF; in addition, other libraries willing to transform their MARC records into RDF will be able to reuse such mappings.

Almost 7 million records transformed under an open license

Approximately 2.4 million bibliographic records have been transformed into RDF. They are modern and ancient monographies, sound-recordings and musical scores. Besides, 4 million authority records of persons, corporate names, uniform titles and subjects have been transformed. All of them belong to the bibliographic and authority catalogues of the BNE stored in MARC 21 format. As for the data transformation, the MARImbA (MARc mappIngs and rdf generAtor) tool has been developed and used. MARiMbA is a tool for librarians, whose goal is to support the entire process of generating RDF from MARC21 records. This tool allows using any vocabulary (in this case ISBD and FR family) and simplifies the process of assigning correspondences between RDFS/OWL vocabularies and MARC 21. As a result of this process, about 58 million triples have been generated in Spanish. These triples are high quality data with an important cultural value that substantially increases the presence of the Spanish language in the data cloud. Once the data were described with IFLA models, and the bibliographic and authorities catalogues were generated in RDF, the following step was to connect these data with other existing knowledge RDF databases included in the Linking Open Data initiative. Thus, the data of the BNE are now linked or connected with data from other international data source through VIAF, the Virtual International Authority File. The type of licence applied to the data is CC0 (Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication), a completely open licence aimed at promoting data reuse. With this project, the BNE adheres to the Spanish Public Sector’s Commitment to openness and data reuse, as established in the Royal Decree 1495/ 2011 of 24 October, (Real Decreto 1495/2011, de 24 de octubre) on reusing information in the public sector, and also acknowledges the proposals of the CENL (Conference of European National Librarians).

Future steps

In the short term, the next steps to carry out include
  • Migration of a larger set of catalogue records.
  • Improvement of the quality and granularity of both the transformed entities and the relationships between them.
  • Establishment of new links to other interesting datasets.
  • Development of a human-friendly visualization tool.
  • SKOSification of subject headings.


From BNE: Ana Manchado, Mar Hernández Agustí, Fernando Monzón, Pilar Tejero López, Ana Manero García, Marina Jiménez Piano, Ricardo Santos Muñoz and Elena Escolano. From UPM: Asunción Gómez-Pérez, Elena Montiel-Ponsoda, Boris Villazón-Terrazas and Daniel Vila-Suero.

German National Library goes LOD & publishes National Bibliography

- January 26, 2012 in Data, national library

Good news from Germany. The German National Library
  1. changed its licensing regime for Linked Data to CC0 which makes the data open according to the open definition,
  2. has begun to publish the German national bibliography as Linked Open Data.
For background see the email (German) announcing this step. There it says (my translation): “In 2010 the German National Library (DNB) started publishing authority data as Linked Data. The existing Linked Data service of the DNB is now extended with title data. In this context the licence for linked data is shifted to “Creative Commons Zero. Until now, the majority of DNB title data is implemented as well as periodicals and series – the music data and holdings of the German Exiles Archive are missing. From now on, the RDF/XML representation of a title record is available in the DNB portal via a link. This is expressly an experimental service which will be extended and refined continually. More detailed informations about modelling questions and the general approach can be fund in the updated documentation.“ The English documentation (PDF) hasn’t been updated yet and only describes the GND authority data. On the wiki page about the LOD service it says: “Examples and further information about FTP-downloads will come soon.” An entry on the Data Hub has already been made for the data.