A library mashup: Wikipedia and the catalog

Recently there was quite a bit of talk on Wikipedia as authority file, which then drifted to the topic of linking Wikipedia and library metadata. Additionally, Ed Summers pointed to Jakob Voss’ 2005 article “Metadata with Personendaten and beyond” which explains in some detail how authority data (control numbers) from the German National Library are added to Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia user APPER created several very useful tools for this task. So, given that the German-speaking community has these tools, I thought I’d take a look at how they are implemented in library union catalogs (these examples don’t claim to be complete).

The German National Library authority record provides a link (but not in the display for an individual title):

SWB union catalog shows a link to the Wikipedia article on the title level (as well as in the authority record):

The Austrian union catalog (into which I currently catalog) implements APPER’s control number look-up script into the title view with a preview of the Wikipedia article (Primo discovery system):

You decide which is the most elegant solution ;)… It would be great if for subjects matches could be found between library subject authority data and the corresponding Wikipedia articles and the same enriching could take place, because often the terms are closer to real-world expressions than the sometimes convoluted subject authorities. It seems that efforts to that effect are already underway:

3 thoughts on “A library mashup: Wikipedia and the catalog

  1. Larry Creider

    This is an excellent idea. What I tell students in library research classes is that Wikipedia is a good place to start but a bad place to end. I work in a library with little in the way of references sources for early materials or the history of scholarship, and I find Wikipedia a great help for identifying 16th-19th century scholars and other figures.

    1. Saskia Post author

      Thank you for the comment – it’s great that Wikipedia is such a good source for historical figures. There is a wealth of information that librarians would have a hard time gathering on their own, so cross-fertilizing for the benefit of the user is a good thing.

  2. Jamie

    The links the German National Library provide do nicely illustrate one issue with this approach: Wikipedia has (as far as I can see) no language independent notion of a subject. So the link points to the German entry for Doris Lessing, while presumably the New Zealand National Library, for example, would link to the English entry. This makes these links utterly unhelpful when it comes to sharing/linking the records from these institutions.


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