14 July 2023
The British National Bibliography (BNB), first published in January 1950, is a weekly listing of new books and journals published or distributed in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Over the last seventy-three years, the BNB has adapted to changing customer needs by embracing new technologies, from cards in the 1950s to mark-up languages for data exchange in the 1970s and CD-ROM in the 1980s. The BNB now provides online access to details of over 5 million publications and forthcoming titles, ranging in scope from computer science to history, from novels to textbooks.
In 2011, the Library launched the Linked Open Data BNB. At that time, linked data was an emerging technology using Web protocols to link data sets, as envisaged in Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s concept of a Semantic Web. Our initial foray into linked data was successful from a technical perspective. We were able to convert BNB data held in Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format into linked data structures and make it available in a variety of schemas under an open licence. Nevertheless, we lacked the capacity to re-model our data in order to realise the potential of linked data. As the technology matured, we began to look around for partners with whom we could collaborate to take BNB forward.
As described in my September 2020 blogpost, British Library Joins Share-VDE Linked Data Community, the British Library joined the Share Community (now the Share Family) to develop our linked data service. The Share Linked Data Environment is “a global family built on collaboration that brings libraries, archives and museums together with a common goal and joins their knowledge in an ever-widening network of inter-connected bibliographic data.” (Share Family, 2022).
“The Share Family is a suite of innovative tools and services, developed and driven by libraries, for libraries, in an international collaborative, consortial effort. Share-VDE enables the discovery of knowledge to increase user engagement with library and cultural heritage collections.”
The Share Family has supported us through the transition from our traditional MARC data to linked open data. We provided a full copy of the British National Bibliography to the Share team for identification and clustering of entities, e.g. works, publications, persons. Working with colleagues from other institutions on Share-VDE working groups we contribute to the development of the underlying data structures and the presentation of data. This collaborative approach has enabled delivery of the British National Bibliography as the first institutional tenant of the Share Family National Bibliographies Portal.
“National bibliographies are a permanent record of the cultural and intellectual output of a nation or country, which is witnessed by its publishing output. They gather the bibliographic information of current publications to preserve and provide ongoing access to this record.”
IFLA Bibliography Section
The IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Register of national bibliographies contains 52 entries, ranging from Andorra to Vietnam. National bibliographies vary in scope, but each provides insights into the intellectual and cultural history of society, literature and publishing. The Share Family National Bibliographies Portal offers the potential for clustering and searching multiple national bibliographies on a single platform.
The British Library is proud that the British National Bibliography is the first tenant selected for the Share Family National Bibliographies Portal.
You can use the national bibliography to search for a specific publication, such as a large print edition of the novel Small island by Andrea Levy.
You can also find original works inspired by earlier works:
Alternatively, you can search for works by a specific author…
…or about a specific person
…or by organization
What benefit do we expect to gain from this collaboration?
- We profit from practical experience our collaborators have gained through other linked data initiatives
- We gain access to a state of the art, extensible infrastructure designed for library data
- We gain a new channel for dissemination of the BNB, in aggregation with other national bibliographies
We are able to re-tool our metadata for the 21st Century:
- Our data will be remodelled and clustered making it more compatible with current data models, including the IFLA Library Reference Model, RDA: Resource Description and Access, and Bibframe
- Our data will be enriched with URIs that will make it more effective in linked data environments
- The entity-centred view of the British National Bibliography offers new perspectives for researchers
Conversion of the BNB and publication in the National Bibliographies Portal is only the beginning.
- The BNB data from the Cluster Knowledge base will also be published in the triple store
- Original records will be available to the British Library as Bibframe 2.0, for dissemination or reuse as linked data
- Users will be provided with access to the data via data dumps and a SPARQL endpoint
- Our MARC records will be enriched with original Share URIs and URIs from external sources
- Other national bibliographies will join BNB in the national bibliographies portal
The British National Bibliography represents only a fraction of the Library’s data. You can explore the British Library’s collection through our catalogue, which we plan to contribute to Share-VDE in future.
The British National Bibliography in the Share Family is being made available in Beta. The service is still being tested. The interface and the functionality are subject to change and may not work for everyone. You can tell us what you think about the service or report problems by contacting [email protected].
British National Bibliography https://bnb.bl.uk
Share VDE http://www.share-family.org/
Share Family wiki https://wiki.share-vde.org/wiki/Main_Page
Share VDE Virtual Discovery Environment in linked open data https://svde.org/
National Bibliographies in Linked Open Data https://natbib-lod.org
British National Bibliography Linked Open Data Portal https://bl.natbib-lod.org
 Share-VDE: supporting the creation, management and discovery of linked open data for libraries: executive summary. Share-VDE Executive Committee. December 7th, 2022. Share-VDE Website (viewed 19th June 2023)