As part of the Law Library of Congress’ Law.gov project, we are consulting with the great minds behind the id.loc.gov linked data service of the Library of Congress to research whether a linked data version of the Law schedule of the Library of Congress Classification system, Class K, would be useful. Class K lays out a very nice hierarchy for classifying legal materials, but the detailed scheme can do double duty – functioning as a reference tool as well as a cataloging tool.
For Law.gov we can see potential use for Class K as a way to browse content, allowing users to explore the hierarchy and see the larger picture of how materials in the system are grouped together. For example, we are researching the possibility of enabling users to dive into the hierarchy at any point and launch a query to potentially retrieve all items related to that level of classification with the click of a single link. By incorporating a linked data version of the Law classification into Law.gov, we might also create queries to generate relationships between concepts automatically on any given page, perhaps demonstrating relationships between concepts across different jurisdictions, geographic areas, and languages, or showing broader and narrower concepts not easily discovered during a search.
The id.loc.gov team tells me their servers are hammered on a daily basis as users and machines around the world download linked data versions of the Library’s vocabularies and authorities, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings and name authority files. We use this linked data internally in a variety of ways, particularly to discover and generate representations of relationships between terms. But we know others are using our data to derive their own relationships, and they are linking concepts in other languages to the subject heading terms in id.loc.gov. We think there is potential for the user community to find this kind of value in a linked data version of the Law Classification scheme as well.
But we’d really like your opinion. How would you use a linked data version of Class K? Do you see other applications for this kind of linked data in the legal and library communities?