Opening Up Your Metadata: Challenges, Standards and Tools

On Wednesday the 13th of June, the Open Knowledge Foundation organised together with DevCSI the very first bibliographic hackathon in London. In two days, developers and designers worked with several open bibliographical repositories from a variety of different cultural institutions. As part of this two days event, the openGLAM initiative organised a technical workshop as part of the DM2E project for representatives from cultural heritage institutions. Around 25 interested people joined us for a day with several presentations and a group discussion about the technical opportunities and barriers of opening up cultural metadata.


After the plenary word of welcome for both the developers and the workshop participants, Sam Leon from the Open Knowledge Foundation and host of the day welcomed the workshop participants. After that he gave a short introduction into the work that the openGLAM initiative is doing in order to get more cultural data freely available for re-use without any restrictions. He pointed out that a new ecosystem is evolving in the cultural world. One where value is not only expressed in money, but also in the use of the data and that more and more cultural institutions make the first steps towards open data in order to facilitate this.

After this introduction there were a number of other presentations

  • Adrian Stevenson gave a thorough introduction about what an API is and how cultural institutions can make use of them to achieve maximum results. He also gave an introduction to Linked Open Data and RDF, terms that were used in several other presentations during the day.

  • Harry Harrold explained how cultural institutions can prepare their data as good as possible for a hackathon

  • Steffen Hennicke gave a high profile introduction into the Europeana Data Model and explained the new possibilities of RDF and linked data

During the break there was the opportunity for the participants to talk with the developers of the hackathon to hear first hand experiences of the people who are using their data to create new innovative products

  • Neil Wilson gave after the break an overview of the work that the British National Library has done to open up their bibliographical data and why they decided to do so. All their data can be found on the (Datahub)

  • Ed Chamberlain presented the CLOCK project which has the goal to develop new innovative tools which will make it easier for users to find bibliographical data and the results of it

  • Owen Stephens presented a number of ways to re-use open cultural data and how this changes the experience for the user

All the slides will be made available in the next week on the Open GLAM blog.

After the presentations smaller groups were formed and the participants discussed together with the presenters the different opportunities and challenges concerning opening up their data. Some of the thing mentioned:


  • Outreach, connect with the public
  • Discover new uses of the data
  • Sharing of standards
  • Part of public mission
  • Re-harvesting of enhanced data by the crowd


  • Resources
  • Value needs to be shown to both funders as well as internal departments
  • Loss of control
  • Quality of data
  • Licensing




All the discussed topics will also be addressed in the document the Open Knowledge Foundation is writing about the opportunities and barriers of making cultural data openly licensed.

We had very positive feedback from participants, who found the workshop very useful – and there was a lot of enthusiasm for similar events in the future. The Open Knowledge Foundation has hosted this workshop as part of a series and will organize similar events in several European countries. If you’re interested in keeping in touch, you can join the open-glam mailing list or get in touch directly