Former U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley is the daughter of George Levine, who was captain of the Sands Copa Room in the Rat Pack days, which “Mr. Entertainment” Jack Entratter indelibly infused with Vegas-style glamor as an executive at the Sands Hotel and Casino. And the linkages go on …
But you may not have been able to determine these connections if it weren’t for University Libraries’ new Navigator tool. Navigator is an online research browser that uses linked data embedded in the Libraries’ Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project digital collection to create visualized links between people, organizations, and communities; allowing users to physically see relationships as well as observe how those connections have evolved over time.
“When you use online search engines to conduct an Internet search, you get a long list of search results without any context,” said Cory Lampert, head of University Libraries’ digital collections. “With nonproprietary linked open data, there is no ambiguity and connections between people, organizations, and communities are automatically linked for users, which leads to richer discovery of information.”
Linked data is created when previously isolated or inaccessible information trapped in online documents and databases is cracked open and transformed into an open web data format that computers can organize automatically. Linked data extends the reach of information, enabling it to express the interconnectedness of people, places, and things more thoroughly, frequently, accurately, and — in the case of the University Libraries — visually.
“This will be the way that people search for information going forward,” Lampert said. “Smarter results sets can save users time and provide them with new ways to dive into just the aspects of the data that are meaningful to their research.”
Lampert and recently retired metadata librarian Silvia Southwick have led University Libraries’ linked data charge, using the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project as the pilot project to build Navigator. In addition to making it easier for researchers to explore the digital collection and visualize findings, Navigator connects the collection to libraries, universities, and other information repositories so anyone anywhere can access the information anytime. Materials in the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project digital collection are discoverable through a quick keyword search via its local website, linked data search engines, linked data browsers, and topical or regional aggregators.
“The project opens up our data for further discovery,” Southwick said. “The true realization of this project’s success will come as we continue to connect to other repositories with more of our data published online and made easily discoverable."