Nikki Kahn—The Washington Post/Getty Images

It's the largest data release in the library's history.

May 17, 2017

The Library of Congress announced the largest release of digital records in its history on Tuesday. It will make 25 million records from its catalog available for the public to download.

Prior to this, the records—which include books and serials, music and manuscripts, and maps and visual materials spanning from 1968 to 2014—have only been accessible through a paid subscription. These files will be available for free download on [their site] and are also available on data.gov.

“The Library of Congress is our nation’s monument to knowledge and we need to make sure the doors are open wide for everyone, not just physically but digitally too,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Unlocking the rich data in the Library’s online catalog is a great step forward. I’m excited to see how people will put this information to use.”

The Library will partner with George Washington University and George Mason University to host a Hack-to-Learn workshop from Wednesday May 17th to Thursday May 18th. The event will bring together librarians, programmers and researchers to explore how the data can be used.

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“The Library of Congress catalog is literally the gold standard for bibliographic data and we believe this treasure trove of information can be used for much more than its original purpose,” said Beacher Wiggins, the Library’s director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access. “From more efficient information-sharing and easier analysis to visualizations and other possibilities we cannot begin to predict, we hope this data will be put to work by social scientists, data analysts, developers, statisticians and everyone else doing innovative work with large data sets to enhance learning and the formation of new knowledge.”

This free database will be maintained in alongside the fee-based MARC Distribution Service.

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