Piloting Linked Open Data on Artists' Books: a Case Study in Interoperability and Sustainability

  • Emilee Mathews University of California, Irvine
  • Laura J. Smart University of California, Irvine
Keywords: Linked Open Data (LOD), data modeling, metadata, artists' books, visualization


Artists’ books are a common component of many art libraries, and are of great interest to artists and art historians because of their highly visual, interactive and sculptural qualities. However, many of these art-like qualities remain under-described when only represented in the typical library catalog. University of California, Irvine (UCI) Libraries are working through an NEH grant to extend interoperability and discoverability of artists’ books through the use of linked open data (LOD). We implemented processes of transforming legacy metadata from our Library catalog to linked open data while enhancing records with Visual Resources Association (VRA) Core elements. In addition to publishing linked open data with digital surrogates of artists’ books in our special collections, we built a prototype visualization tool to allow researchers to traverse relationships within and between the works, discovering connections between artists, genres, techniques, and materials. This article will describe the behind the scenes processes and challenges in making the project interoperable with an emphasis on the metadata aspect of the project, and offer ways to sustain the project’s growth, through the recommendations and toolkits gathered from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Digital Library Federation (DLF), and Ithaka S+R.

Author Biographies

Emilee Mathews, University of California, Irvine

Emilee Mathews has been the Research Librarian for Visual Arts at University of California, Irvine since 2013. Before then, she served as the Interim Head of the Fine Arts Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she also obtained her two master's degrees in library science and art history. She researches and writes on convergences of digital humanities, new media art, and information science.

Laura J. Smart, University of California, Irvine

Laura Smart has been developing digital library applications for twenty years with a focus on metadata design and institutional repositories. She currently heads the UC Irvine Digital Scholarship Services department where she fosters the use of digital content and transformative technology in scholarship and academic activities. The group supports the campus community at all stages of the research lifecycle, including research planning, execution, dissemination, discovery, preservation, and impact.