Oslo Public Library chooses RDF linked data as core metadata format

During the next four years the Digital Development Team will join the Application project, a temporary organization whose mission is to provide systems, tools and services for the new city library of Oslo due to open in 2018.

The main task will be to provide modern tools for the library staff in order to facilitate the dissemination and mediation of content, both inside the library building and on the Internet. The library system and its related tools have been identified as the core system of this activity.

From ILS to LS.XT

Oslo Public Library has chosen the free and open Koha Integrated Library System as a basis for our new library system. This is an ILS, but we see Koha as one of several modules that will form our future library system. We aim to take the I completely out of ILS, and our working title is LS.XT – Library system Extended.

We do not see our library system as a single stand-alone component that will do «everything». First and foremost we want to use Koha for what it is good at – circulation. Koha comes with good APIs out of the box and the beauty of open source is that we can expand and contribute to create richer APIs that will serve our needs.

Our catalogue data will be stored as RDF linked data, a rich metadata model more suitable for our future needs than the library specific MARC-format. RDF data enables us to use the same metadata format for our physical collection and our digital content, and it provides us with a good foundation for search, presentation and integration with other content.

LS.XT - Library system.Extended

Simplified view: LS.XT – Library system.Extended. RDF as primary metadata format.


While using RDF as our primary format we still have to provide a MARC representation of our data. The MARC representation requires a conversion of our RDF records to provide a slim MARC record in Koha. This is mainly for dealing with circulation and for exchanging data with other libraries. This is a small paradigm as our RDF records will be free and open, but in order for other libraries to actually be able to use our data, we have to convert it and lock it into a nearly 50 year old format.

We hope someone shares our dream of a full-fledged RDF library system. Please get in touch if you do! :)

RDF opens a new world of possibilities as to how we can connect our metadata with data from other relevant resources. We will pursue data harvesting from other sources, which mean we can add value to our core content, and harvesting of basic bibliographic data to facilitate the cataloguing process.

Cataloguing in LS.XT

Simplified view: LS.XT – Library system.Extended. Cataloguing with harvesting and conversion tools


A viable system architecture

One of the challenges is to construct a systems architecture that is stable, durable and modular. An architecture that will last for years and withstand phasing out old, outdated and rarely used services and tools, while being flexible to support the development of new and more modern services on new platforms.

We don’t know all that much about which gadgets and interfaces we need to create services for in the future, but we know it will be something different than what we have today.

Planning for this is conquering the future! :)

Om Anne-Lena

jobber som spesialkonsulent og prosjektleder i Utviklingsavdelingen. Er koordinator for teamet Digital utvikling.