The early-to-mid 2000s economic downturn in the US and Europe forced cultural heritage institutions to adopt a more pragmatic stance towards metadata creation and to deliver short-term results towards grant providers. It is precisely in this context that the concept of Linked and Open Data (LOD) has gained momentum. In this presentation, we want to focus on metadata cleaning and reconciliation, two elementary steps to bring cultural heritage collections into the Linked Data cloud. After an initial cleaning process, involving, for example, the detection of duplicates and the unifying of encoding formats, metadata is reconciled by mapping a domain specific and/or local vocabulary to another (more commonly used) vocabulary that is already a part of the Semantic Web. We believe that the integration of heterogeneous collections can be managed by using subject vocabularies for cross linking between collections, since major classifications and thesauri (e.g. LCSH, DDC, RAMEAU, etc.) have been made available following Linked Data Principles.
Re-using these established terms for indexing cultural heritage resources represents a big potential of Linked Data for digital library projects, but there is a common belief that the application of LOD publishing still requires expert knowledge of Semantic Web technologies. We will therefore demonstrate how Semantic Web novices can start experimenting on their own with non-expert software such as Google Refine. All necessary operations to reconcile metadata with controlled vocabularies which are already a part of the Linked Data cloud will be presented in detail. More information regarding the research project can be found on freeyourmetadata.org