Linked Data for Beginners

Online Learning Continuing Education Course
Instructor: Steven J. Miller
Hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies


  • Next Offering: September 30 – November 22, 2019.
  • Registration Fee: $350 ($300 for students).
    • 10% discount per registrant when four or more people from the same institution register. Contact the course instructor at for the discount code.
  • Online Registration:
  • Registration Deadline (Fall 2019): Monday, September 23, 2019, 6:00 PM CDT.
  • Cancellation Policy (Fall 2019):
    • Participant withdrawals made prior to September 23 will receive a 100% refund.
    • Participant withdrawals made between September 23 and 29 (inclusive) will receive a refund minus a 20% administrative fee.
    • Once the course has started on September 30, refunds will no longer be issued.
  • Questions or Problems, including registration, course access, or course content:
    • Contact the course instructor Steven Miller at
    • Do NOT contact the UWM School of Continuing Education (SCE) or the UWM Help Desk.  They have no specific information about this course and will only direct you back to the course instructor.

Target Audience:

  • This course is primarily intended for:
    • Working librarians, archivists, museum staff, and students in these areas. But it may also be useful to data modelers, database designers, and anyone who works with organizing data, metadata, or information, including in business, government, or other corporate and private sectors.
      • For example, those with at least some introductory knowledge of, or background working with, any of  the following: metadata, bibliographic cataloging data (e.g., MARC, RDA, AACR2), resource description, metadata schemes or application profiles, archival description, digital asset work or DAM system design or modeling, data modeling, database work or design, or anything else of this kind.
    • Those who have little or no prior knowledge of, or experience with, Linked Data, the Semantic Web, RDF, OWL, SPARQL, SKOS, BIBFRAME,, and/or RDFa.
    • Those who want to gain a gentle but solid introductory-level conceptual foundation in the topics above as well as some introductory hands-on experience with them.
    • Note: One unit (Week 7) deals with a library-specific application. Those with a background knowledge of FRBR and RDA will likely get the most out of that unit, but those without that background should still find it interesting and possibly useful in some ways and will be given enough information to complete the exercise.
  • This course is not primarily intended for:
    • Those who already have a basic, introductory knowledge of most of the topics listed above.
    • Those who want to gain a thorough, in-depth training in the use of RDF, RDFS, OWL, SPARQL, SKOS, BIBFRAME,, or RDFa.
    • Those looking for concrete methods for practical implementation of linked data, SKOS, BIBFRAME,, etc., especially the programming and IT knowledge necessary to publish linked data to the Web or create a linked data-based user interface. These lie outside the scope of this course.

Objectives / Learning Outcomes:

  • After completing this course you will:
    1. Understand the purpose and basis of Linked Data, the Semantic Web, RDF, OWL, SPARQL, SKOS, BIBFRAME, and at a basic, introductory level, especially as they relate to libraries and other cultural heritage institutions such as archives, museums, and historical societies.
    2. Cut through much of the general confusion about these topics, the current state of their practical implementation, and how they apply to a majority of working professionals at present.
    3. Have some modest but solid beginning-level hands-on experience working with RDF, OWL, SPARQL, SKOS, and BIBFRAME, using the Protégé ontology software and the demonstration BIBFRAME Editor.
    4. Better understand some of the underlying reasons for changes from the old FRBR models to the new IFLA-LRM Library Reference Model as well as recent and upcoming changes to RDA and the RDA Toolkit, of relevance to library catalogers.
    5. Better understand and be able to participate in current professional discussions, email lists, conferences, and job interviews that focus or touch on linked data and the topics above.
    6. Be better positioned to gain the additional knowledge needed to implement linked data concretely, and/or to communicate and work with the IT people involved in practical implementation.

Course Content and Discussion:

  • Each week includes a few suggested or recommended readings, a set of PowerPoint content slides, and a presentation video on the content slides, including live examples.
  • Weeks 2-8 include hands-on exercises with a demonstration video on how to use software tools for completing the exercises, followed by written and video feedback on the exercises posted after the due date. Exercises presume no prior familiarity with the topics or software. For most exercises, a data file is provided for participants to work with.
  • Weekly discussion forums provide a place to ask questions of the instructor about the course content (and exercises), to discuss it with other participants, and for participants to contribute their own knowledge, experience, and resources of mutual interest.
Week Topics Exercises
1 Introduction to Linked Data (LD) and the Semantic Web: visions and basic concepts, focusing on linked “entities” on the Web. Four LD principles. Five star Linked Open Data (LOD) model. Data models (flat, relational, XML, graph). LD implementation examples. [none]
2 The Resource Description Framework (RDF) data model, the foundation of linked data, with examples. Graphs, triple statements, URIs for machines and lexical labels for humans, literals, QNames (curies), Turtle encoding syntax, etc. Work with some RDF linked data using Protégé software, which generates the code.
3 Linked data vocabularies / models / ontologies, part 1. Properties and types (classes); class hierarchies, inheritance, and machine inferencing, with examples. Unit includes introduction to RDFS and OWL Web Ontology Language. Examples include BIBO, FOAF, Good Relations, CIDOC-CRM, Europeana, DPLA. Work with more RDF linked data and a simple ontology model in Protégé, with a focus on properties and types/classes.
4 Linked data vocabularies / models / ontologies, part 2. Connecting properties to classes using “domain” (what type of thing can be the subject of a RDF statement) and “range” (what type of thing can be the object of a RDF statement), with examples. Includes additional RDFS and OWL elements. Continue work with RDF data and a simple ontology model in Protégé, with a focus on domain and range connections between properties and types/classes.
5 SPARQL: the query language for RDF linked data. Focus on SELECT and CONSTRUCT queries. Creating new information and knowledge by machines for human use. Work with SPARQL queries in Protégé to answer questions and construct new data statements from existing data.
6 SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System) model for expressing traditional controlled vocabularies, thesauri, subject heading systems, etc. as RDF linked data. Includes additional OWL elements, such as transitive properties. Express traditional thesaurus terms and relationships in SKOS in Protégé.
7 Library Linked data, IFLA-LRM, and RDA as linked data. BIBFRAME bibliographic framework model (ontology) for expressing bibliographic data: works, instances, agents, subjects, etc., with examples. Also includes examples of RIMMF interface for creating RDA data. Use demo BIBFRAME Editor to create linked bibliographic data for a book.
8 RDFa Lite for markup of web pages using the vocabulary (ontology) for Google and other Web search engines. Includes Bibliographic Extension. Encode some HTML content with vocabulary in RDFa Lite.


  • The course is the online equivalent of an intensive 2-3 day onsite continuing education workshop.  No grades are given.  The UWM School of Continuing Education will, however, give 4 continuing education units (CEUs).  The course includes weekly non-graded exercises.  Upon completion of the course, those who have submitted all of the exercises will receive a certificate of completion.

Time Commitment:

  • This is an “asynchronous” online learning course.  There will be no “real-time” sessions during which everyone must be online at the same time.
  • The course is structured into weekly units with deadlines for submitting exercises by a given deadline. Within that framework participants may work through the content at whatever pace, location, and time of day they wish.
  • The course should take most participants approximately 4-8 hours per week, although this will vary from one individual to another.

Course Delivery:

  • The course will be delivered through the “Canvas” Learning Management System (LMS).
  • The course does not require purchase of a textbook.
  • A few days before the course begins, participants will receive an eamil message with information on how to access the course web site.
  • Upon completion of the course, including submission of all the exercises, each participant will receive a certificate of completion in PDF format.

Course Exercises:

  • The default mode for exercises is for each individual participant to work on their own and submit their own exercises.  This is what the vast majority of past course participants have preferred because of weekly time constraints.
  • Participants do have the option, however, of belonging to a private small group discussion area where group members can bounce questions, answers, and ideas off of one another, including sharing work as attachments, to whatever extent they have time for during a given week, but still submit their own individual exercises.
  • Another alternative is for a small group to submit a single exercise as a collective group effort. Participants rarely choose this option because of the amount of time and coordination involved within a weekly time period. An occasional exception is when two or more colleagues from the same institution choose to work together in person, in real time.


  • The default for completing most of the exercises will be to download and use the free Protégé Ontology Editor from This course uses desktop version 5.1.  Newer versions, including 5.2.0 have not had reliable functionality for all course exercises in the recent past.  Instructions will be given after the course begins.  Version 4.3 is a very stable, acceptable alternative.
  • In the event that a participant is not able to install the software, an alternative textual format will be available for working on the exercises.

Technology Requirements:

  • World Wide Web connection. Software and ability to work with a web browser, email, email attachments, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Word or other word-processing software, online video viewing.
  • Ability to contact your Internet Service Provider or institutional IT staff for technical assistance on Internet connection and tools. The instructor will assist with course site access and use, as well as software needed for exercises, but will not provide computer hardware, general software, or Internet technical support.

About the Instructor:

Steven J. Miller is Senior Lecturer Emeritus (retired) at the UWM School of Information Studies. He has taught a graduate course on RDF and Ontologies for the Semantic Web at the UWM SOIS, a full-day Preconference on Introduction to RDF and Ontologies for the Semantic Web at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, and a half-day Tutorial on Introduction to Ontology Concepts and Terminology at the DC-2013 International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications in Lisbon, Portugal.  He also guest co-edited a special double issue of the Journal of Library Metadata on “Controlled Vocabularies and the Semantic Web” (vol. 15, nos. 3-4, July-Dec. 2015). Steve is the author of the book Metadata for Digital Collections (Neal-Schuman, 2011) and is currently working on a Second Edition, to be published in 2020.