Case Studies/Cologne-based Libraries

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library, Cologne, open data, Germany, bibliography, catalog


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Cologne-based libraries in Germany released 5.4 million bibliographic records to the public via the CC0 public domain dedication.

In times in which publishers and some library organisations see data primarily as a source of capital, it is important to stick up for the traditional duty of libraries and librarians. Libraries have always strived to make large amounts of knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, with the lowest restrictions possible. Furthermore libraries are funded by the public. And what is publicly financed should be made available to the public without restrictions — Silke Schomburg, Deputy Director of the HBZ (


All bibliographic data from Cologne-based libraries in Germany are available to the public with no known copyright restrictions. Cologne-based libraries who surrendered their copyrights using the CC0 public domain dedication include the University and Public Library of Cologne (USB), the Library of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the University Library of the University of Applied Science of Cologne, and the LBZ. The data is currently linked from the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz).

License Usage

The Cologne-based libraries, in cooperation with the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz), surrendered all copyright and related or neighboring rights to their bibliographic data using the CC0 public domain dedication.


The Cologne-based libraries chose to release their data in the spirit of Open Access movement, following on the heels of the library of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), who already published its data under a public domain license in January 2010. With so much library data now in the public domain, there emerges greater potential synergy for libraries and the Semantic Web. In a joint statement, the Cologne-based libraries note that "Freely supplying bibliographic data should not only further enhance cooperation among libraries but enable subsequent use by non-library institutions" and that "The North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center has recently begun evaluating the possibilities to transform data from library catalogs in such a way that it can become a part of the emerging Semantic Web. The liberalization of bibliographic data provides the legal background to perform this transformation in a cooperative, open, and transparent way."


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