Librarybase is a project to build a database of metadata together as a community. It is inspired by projects like Wikidata and OpenAlex, but differs from both in certain respects.
These are the principles of Librarybase, based on an essay written by User:Harej in May 2023, but intended to be a living document representing the values and motivations of the project's community as it grows, amendable by consensus.
Librarybase is a staging ground
Some entries are from bulk imports of middling quality. Others are efforts to assign persistent identifiers to works that otherwise never had them. This is a project that will improve incrementally. We have to start somewhere.
Librarybase improves on existing data
Librarybase does not seek to create yet another open dataset of clean academic publication metadata. Such metadata is an important part of this project, but it is only our starting point. The value Librarybase brings is not from repeating what projects like OpenAlex already do, but by expanding on it, through integration with the Wikidata graph and through additions by contributors.
Librarybase connects databases together
Much like Wikidata, Librarybase seeks to connect the various providers of publication metadata. Different industries have different standards for identifying documents, and Librarybase brings them together under its flexible data model and common ontology with Wikidata.
Librarybase allows expressive metadata for non-conventional publications
Before restricted to the world of publishing houses and academia, Librarybase allows for the creation of document identifiers for web pages and other unconventional types of publications. This allows them to have all the same metadata as you would expect for a book or journal article, provided someone is available to provide it.
Librarybase does not replace Wikidata
Librarybase recognizes Wikidata as the foundation of its project, drawing on its rich ontology for describing everything about publications. Wikidata has a broad mission outside of this as well, and may elect to draw up boundaries around publication metadata. While the Wikidata contributors decide what course to take, Librarybase offers itself as a place for experimentation beyond Wikidata's limits. Its role in the ecosystem long-term, including as a partial replacement for Wikidata, is ultimately going to depend on the stability of Librarybase and the consensus of Wikidata contributors. Librarybase is otherwise not a response to Wikidata, but an initiative with its own goals.
Librarybase has a scope that should be interpreted broadly
Wikipedia is built on a foundation of citations, and those citations can be to anything. Anything that can feasibly be cited on Wikipedia, from a tract published in 1340, to a politician tweet, deserves to have as high-quality metadata as a book published this year. Because this potential scope is so broad, you should think of "publication" or "document" metadata as broadly as possible. Can it be cited in a document? Could you potentially find it at a library? Is it some kind of packaged data or media, identifiable in some unique way? Assume it belongs. We do not necessarily benefit from limiting our own scope. That considered, it should try to avoid duplicating what is on Wikidata as much as possible, instead coupling with Wikidata through common identifiers.
Librarybase is built by and for the community
Librarybase was originally incubated by a private business, but the long-term goal is for all aspects of Librarybase to be governed by the community that builds it. As the project matures and develops more long-term leaders, responsibilities will grow to include managing the project's resources and steering its overall direction. Ultimately, Librarybase's value will come from being a public good, rather than the hoard of any private entity.
Librarybase should be governed by clear processes accessible to all users
As a baseline, the project operates on the basis of consensus, where earnest discussion leads to an agreed-upon outcome. This is not always the case. Where there is more controversy over the outcome, there should be clear processes for determining the community's will. We want to ensure that each participant has a fair chance to participate in community processes that determine what direction the project takes. An inability to change the project can lead to stagnation.
Librarybase should use effort efficiently
Instead of expending a large amount of effort to complete a task, think about how to accomplish the broader goal with less effort. This will ultimately serve the project in the long term. And wasted effort burns out volunteers and paid staff alike.