From “an” Identifier to “the” Identifier


  • Theo van Veen Koninklijke Bibliotheek



Library catalogues may be connected to the linked data cloud through various types of thesauri. For name authority thesauri in particular I would like to suggest a fundamental break with the current distributed linked data paradigm: to make a transition from a multitude of different identifiers to using a single, universal identifier for all relevant named entities, in the form of the Wikidata identifier. Wikidata ( seems to be evolving into a major authority hub that is lowering barriers to access the web of data for everyone. Using the Wikidata identifier of notable entities as a common identifier for connecting resources has significant benefits compared to traversing the ever-growing linked data cloud. When the use of Wikidata reaches a critical mass, for some institutions, Wikidata could even serve as an authority control mechanism.

Author Biography

Theo van Veen, Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Research, researcher/advisor


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Joachim Neubert, “Wikidata as a Linking Hub for Knowledge Organization Systems? Integrating an Authority Mapping into Wikidata and Learning Lessons for KOS Mappings,” in Proceedings of the 17th European Networked Knowledge Organization Systems Workshop, 2017, 14-25,

Theo van Veen, “Wikidata as universal library thesaurus,” presented Oct. 2017 at WikidataCon 2017, Berlin,

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Theo van Veen et. al., “Linking Named Entities in Dutch Historical Newspapers,” in Metadata and Semantics Research, MTSR 2016, ed. Emmanouel Garoufallou (Cham: Springer, 2016), 205–10,

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How to Cite

van Veen, T. (2019). Wikidata: From “an” Identifier to “the” Identifier. Information Technology and Libraries, 38(2), 72–81.