ALIADA is an innovation project funded by the European Commission that involves art museums, IT SMEs and a research agency from countries such as Spain, Italy and Hungary. The goal of the project is to develop an open source tool to allow libraries and museums to easily publish their data in the web, as if they were part of it, using the Linked Data technology. Library and museum data are now codified according rules not understandable by the web. If those data could be opened and used by web search engines, they could improve the efficiency of the information retrieval. Moreover, open linked data can be reused to generate further knowledge in cultural institutions or to boost new business models.
If we had to talk about innovation in libraries and museums as heritage and culture institutions that generate rich data to describe and make accessible their collections, we would have to mention the Linked Data technology. According the Wikipedia, Linked Data in computing describes a method of publishing structured data so that it can be interlinked and become more useful. It builds upon standard Web technologies such as HTTP, RDF and URIs, but rather than using them to serve web pages for human readers, it extends them to share information in a way that can be read automatically by computers. This enables data from different sources to be connected and queried. Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium, coined the term in a design note discussing issues around the Semantic Web project.
Using this technology, libraries and museums have nowadays the challenge of contributing to the information retrieval in the web, making their services useful for the entire world and disseminating their resources across local borders.
The tool, called ALIADA (ally in Spanish), is a recently published prototype (www.aliada-project.eu) that will help those institutions, experts in cataloguing and spreading culture but non-experts in the web technology, make their data part of the web through the linked data technology that allows to stablish links between the different open datasets and vocabularies that integrate the semantic structure of the web. ALIADA can be added as a plugin to the management systems used to describe the resources of libraries and museums. ALIADA is intended as an open source tool to open data, so it is offered for free under a Creative Commons license. Other feature of the tool is the multilingualism.
The partners that have promoted this initiative are museums, IT companies and research agencies from several countries across Europe: ARTIUM Contemporary Art Basque Museum (Spain), Museum of Fine Arts Budapest (Hungary), SCANBIT (Spain) and @CULT (Italy) IT companies devoted to provide solutions and services for libraries and TECNALIA, a Spanish research agency expert in Semantic Web technologies.