MetaBelgica Project

A Linked Data Infrastructure Between Federal Scientific Institutes in Belgium




FAIR data, Linked Open Data, RDF, Wikibase, GLAM, Belgium


Trustworthy metadata about entities related to cultural heritage is important to correctly identify bibliographic meta-data, attribute works, identify works of public domain (based on contributors’ date of death), or to support Named Entity Linking (NEL) for digitised documents. However, in Belgium such data is currently dispersed between numerous institutions, modelled with different ontologies, represented in different formats and curated in different languages. GLAM institutions would profit from data about Belgian entities to correctly annotate their collections.
Furthermore, this would facilitate research in Belgium and abroad. The current situation does not only complicate data exchange in a national and international setting, but also leads to duplicate data curation efforts and data quality issues, negatively impacting the users’ experience.

This paper introduces the MetaBelgica project, coordinated by KBR - The Royal Library of Belgium with the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, the Royal institute for Cultural Heritage, and the Royal Museum of Art and History, to improve the status quo. The aforementioned Federal Scientific Institutes (FSIs), belonging to the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), joined forces to develop a shared Linked Data platform for managing shared entities. This platform, based on Wikibase (the technology behind Wikidata), aims to ensure FAIR data about persons, organisations, time/events and locations related to Belgian cultural heritage. We will integrate data about millions of Belgian entities from the four participating FSIs into a Wikibase instance and make it accessible by using Persistent Identifiers. This will not only professionalize our own data management and improve data quality, but according to received project support letters, also impact other regional, national and European institutions.


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Conference Proceedings Volume


Humanities & Social Sciences
Received 2023-04-26
Accepted 2023-06-29
Published 2023-09-07