Vol. 8 No. 3 (2017)

Library Metadata on the web: the example of data.bnf.fr

Raphaëlle Lapôtre
Biblioteca Nazionale di Francia

Published 2017-09-15


  • Library Metadata,
  • Semantic web,
  • Linked Open Data,
  • BnF

How to Cite

Lapôtre, Raphaëlle. 2017. “Library Metadata on the Web: the Example of data.bnf.Fr”. JLIS.It 8 (3):58-70. https://doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-12402.


In library catalogs as much as on the web, metadata acts as a transparent language through which concrete objects are looked for, found and obtained. Past decades have seen web browsing evolving so as to, by reducing query time to a slight amount, make web surfers forget that they are looking for things online: through this, online querying has become as trivial and invisible as would be the use of a currency as a medium of exchange. In fact, metadata sets and currencies share in the contemporary world a common nature, or at least universal principles: both are measuring the value of things in regard to people’s need (of which search engine queries can be seen as a manifestation), and both can be viewed as temporary substitutes to those needed things before their obtention.
The following article will thus examine both the transparency and materiality of bibliographical data firstly by demonstrating its monetary aspect, secondly by showing its materiality, and thirdly by explaining how the adoption of Linked Open Data standards contributes to the reification of data itself. Its argumentation is for its bigger part drawn from the data.bnf.fr experiment, which has been launched in 2011. This website is a project of the National Library of France, aiming at disseminating data from the BnF various catalogs and applications while constituting a single point of access for users from the web to collections descriptions scattered across many search tools. As this website principles are based on both online visibility and linked open data dissemination, this article will try to demonstrate how those two principles are going hand in hand.


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