This is promising. OCLC and Cambridge are experimenting with ways to make bibliographic data openly available. Having a reliable, open, set of bibliographic records would encourage the development of innovative applications. Or, put differently, not having a standard way to refer to books and other works has inhibited innovation. The main impediment has been the prohibitions in the licenses for this data. Perhaps this new project indicates a willingness to let an open, public catalog be created.

OCLC Research and Cambridge University collaborate on Open Metadata project—28 Feb 2011

Library information provider OCLC Research, US, and Cambridge University have announced that both organisations will jointly conduct a six-month, JISC-funded investigation into the value of making collection metadata openly available in a sustainable manner.

The COMET (Cambridge OPen METadata) project will release a sub-set of bibliographic data from Cambridge University Library catalogues as linked data in multiple formats. This activity will test a number of technologies and methodologies for releasing open bibliographic data including XML, RDF, SPARQL, and JSON.

To enhance linking options, records will be enriched using two OCLC Research services to assign FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) and VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) headings. This will allow for effective information retrieval and semantic interoperability.

Starting in February 2011, COMET will document the availability of metadata for the library’s collections which can be released openly in machine-readable formats and the barriers which prevent other data from being exposed in this way.

It is expected that the project will bring value to the wider community by contributing substantially to the availability of open metadata. Linking to FAST and VIAF headings will demonstrate the potential usefulness of a structured semantic approach to data. The project will also look at the value data enrichment offers for resource discovery.