Saturday, June 28, 2014

Linking, really linking

Some time ago I posted a bit of wishful thinking about linking search engine results to library holdings. Now Overdrive has made this a reality, at least in Bing:

This appears in the "extended information" area of a Bing search for the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo trilogy. This is based on you having an Overdrive account and I believe you may also have to have given the browser permission to use your location.

I don't usually use Bing, and so I was unaware that Bing has made much better use of linked data (in part promoted by the use of standards) than Google. Here is the Google extended sidebar for the same book:
Google results
Now look at what Bing provides:
Bing results
If you can't see that there are advantages to linked data after looking at these examples, then, like the global warming deniers, you just don't want to be confused by the facts. Now to get on to how we can make library offerings as rich as this.

**HT to Eric Hellman for blogging this from ALA.


Yann said...

Alas, not convinced it has anything to do with microdata or linked open data.Here, nothing but ad hoc bilateral transactions between Overdrive and Bing, it seems :

Karen Coyle said...

Yann, you are right, the Overdrive links aren't using LOD, although if you look at the Bing page at least some of the other links are coming from properties. To get to full linking to library holdings we have to get those holdings into an LD-ready format. There is a group adding library-related properties to, which would include holdings. It is a positive sign that Bing is willing to surface library content; I'm hoping this means that if we get library data into a format that supports linking, the search engines will be amenable to displaying it.

I'm just gratified that someone else out there thinks linking to library holdings is a good idea.

Yann said...

By the way, there is a copernican flavour in this linking from the product to the libraries. Traditionally, it works the other way round : library holdings point to records that point to products.

Re library holdings vocabs, this one by german colleagues may be a good candidate for integration in (as did it for GoodRelations by instance). ... My 2 Pfennige...

Karen Coyle said...

There already is a library holdings proposal for It uses the class, which was originally developed for commercial transactions. One possible advantage of that is that search engines will not perceive a difference between library offers and product offers, so libraries may get equal treatment.

Eric Hellman said...

It's worth noting that the reason the overdrive link is attractive to bing is that it goes immediately to an excerpt of the book, not another metadata record. Search engines won't surface library content unless the library delivers some instant gratification.

Karen Coyle said...

Excellent point, Eric. Sending folks to the library catalog rather than to the content is just not going to interest people. We simply must get the catalog out of the way, taking users to what they are actually looking for. Which means we have to have what they are looking for in digital form. Which, of course, is pretty much what Google Books is, and that adds a level of complication.

Although... it would be interesting to see how people respond to being taken directly to a "this is on the shelf, hold it for me" -- which may work better in a university setting than for public libraries, but for seasoned library users that may be enough.

So much to think about!