Change for librarians is not new. New information sources and formats have regularly been assimilated into library collections as librarians endeavour to meet their patrons’ information needs. Microfiche, microfilm, CD-ROMs, web pages and social media content have all been introduced into library collections over the years. Increasingly however, as well as more varieties of documents, there are large quantities of data being made available online in a range of formats that require new skills and knowledge on the part of librarians. Over the past couple of years governments around the world have started making vast quantities of non-personal public data available online, research-funding agencies are placing greater emphasis on researchers making data available in digital repositories, industry is making various data sets available in the hope of making use of external talent and an increasing proportion of the public are marking up information on their own websites in a standardized way so that it can be read automatically. Together this data combines to make a ‘web of data’ – structured data in a machine-readable format that is being made publicly available online by individuals and organizations from every sector of society. This data potentially has huge economic, research and social value, and library and information pro - fessionals across the different sectors have a pivotal role in making sure that this value is realized.
The aim of this book is to provide an introduction to the web of data for the library and information professional, emphasizing: the importance of open data; the broad spectrum of individuals and organizations publishing the data; the meaning of semantic data and its advantages; the various publishing formats that are being used; and most importantly, the role of library and information professionals as facilitators of access to this web of data. This book is not designed as a how-to guide for the publishing of data online or for including semantic markup within HTML (HyperText Markup Language) pages, although some of the examples will help.