Valuable information is stored in the treasure trove of library catalogs. They are important to making information findable, particularly as the amount of information expands every day. The San Francisco Chronicle brought this interesting news to our attention in their article, “The Library of Congress opened its catalogs to the world. Here’s why it matters.”

But what if you could also experiment with the data in those records to explore other kinds of research questions – like trends in subject matter, semantics in titles or patterns in the geographic source of works on a given topic? The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone to use at no charge. The free data set includes records from 1968 to 2014. This is the largest release of digital catalog records in history.

Search engines let us easily find books we want to borrow from libraries or purchase from any number of sources. Search engines use data about books to identify particular books. That descriptive information was gathered over the years in library catalog records by librarians.

Many believe that this kind of data should be freely available in all libraries. This latest move by the library gives us an inkling of what is to come.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.