What is the British Library?

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 170 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

What is the BNB?

The British National Bibliography has been available in various formats for over 60 years with the first record added in 1950. It contains data about virtually every book and journal title published or distributed in the UK and Ireland since that date. In its role as the library of legal deposit in the United Kingdom the British Library is responsible for preserving a wide variety of UK and Irish published works, and the majority of these are recorded in the BNB. The exclusions largely relate to some official government publications that are recorded elsewhere, or other locally published or ephemeral material. With an increasing number of works being published electronically, in 2003 the scope of the BNB was extended to include data about this type of publication.

Is the full dataset available as linked open data?

No. The current offering includes metadata about published books (including monographs published over time), serial publications and new and forthcoming books.

However, we can provide the full dataset as open data (i.e. not linked). This is a more basic representation of our data in RDF/XML.  Please see here for further details.

Is the data free?

Yes.  Additionally, the data is released under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication licence. This means that there are no restrictions whatsoever on how the dataset can be used. Please see here for full terms and conditions.

How do I access the data?

A SPARQL endpoint is available at http://bnb.data.bl.uk/sparql. A SPARQL editor is also available here. Alternatively, a human-friendly interface is available at http://bnb.data.bl.uk.

Bulk downloads are also available.

How do I use the SPARQL editor available on your site?

If you create your own queries, they should be preceded by the following PREFIX declarations:

PREFIX bibo: <http://purl.org/ontology/bibo/>
PREFIX bio: <http://purl.org/vocab/bio/0.1/>
PREFIX blt: <http://www.bl.uk/schemas/bibliographic/blterms#>
PREFIX dct: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/>
PREFIX event: <http://purl.org/NET/c4dm/event.owl#>
PREFIX foaf: <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/>
PREFIX geo: <http://www.w3.org/2003/01/geo/wgs84_pos#>
PREFIX isbd: <http://iflastandards.info/ns/isbd/elements/>
PREFIX org: <http://www.w3.org/ns/org#>
PREFIX owl: <http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#>
PREFIX rdau: <http://rdaregistry.info/Elements/u/>
PREFIX rdf: <http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#>
PREFIX rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#>
PREFIX schema: <http://schema.org/>
PREFIX skos: <http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#>
PREFIX void: <http://rdfs.org/ns/void#>
PREFIX xsd: <http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#>

Not all of these declarations are required for all of the queries but they declare all the prefixes that are likely to be useful when querying the BNB.

There are four graphs: one for books (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/graph/BNBBooks>); one for serials (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/graph/BNBSerials>); one for new and forthcoming books (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/graph/BNBCIP>) and one for VoID descriptions (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/graph/Void>). You may query all three graphs by default, or speficy a particular graph.

There are four datasets: BNBBooks (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/data/BNBBooks>), BNBSerials (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/data/BNBSerials>), BNBCIP BNBSerials (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/data/BNBCIP>) and the union of the two: BNB (<http://bnb.data.bl.uk/id/data/BNB.). BNBBooks, BNBSerials and BNBCIP have each been internally de-duplicated but some triples are duplicated between datasets.

If you are using one of the sample queries, click "Okay" in answer to the message “Are you sure you want to abandon the current text?”; select the output required (e.g. plain text, SPARQL-XML or JSON) and click Submit.

Does the SPARQL editor support SPARQL 1.1?

Not as it has been implemented at the moment. This is something we are looking at for the future. Technical information on the SPARQL editor is available here.

What serializations are the bulk downloads available in? 

The bulk downloads are available in RDF/XML and N-Triples.

How often is the data refreshed?

We provide monthly updates.

What do your data model and schema look like?

The data model for books is available here. [PDF format 546 KB] [version 1.7, August 2020]

The data model for serials is available here. [PDF format 527 KB] [version 1.3, August 2020]

The data model for forthcoming books is available here. [PDF format 606 KB] [version 1.2, August 2020]

The latest version of the schema has been published here. The namespace declaration for this schema is xmlns:blt="http://www.bl.uk/schemas/bibliographic/blterms#"

What RDF vocabularies are used?

Data is described using properties from the following vocabularies:
Bibliographic Ontology
Bio: A Vocabulary for Biographical Information
British Library Terms
Dublin Core
Event Ontology
FOAF: Friend of a Friend
Org: An Organization Ontology
RDF Schema
WGS84 Geo Positioning

Which external datasets are there links to?

Links to the following linked open data sources have been provided:
GeoNames (for country of publication) 
MARC country and language codes

What other formats of data are available for BNB?

Other than the Linked Open BNB, users can choose from the following free options:

  1. Basic RDF/XML
  2. MARC21 via Z39.50
  3. BNB New Titles – Weekly PDF and basic RDF/XML files

Do you provide other datasets than the BNB?

Yes. We provide datasets in .csv in specific subject areas; the list is available here. We also have an experimental linked data release of the Knowledge Organizations dataset.

How can I get more information about your data services?

Visit our Open Data pages or email us at metadata@bl.uk.  You can also follow the latest developments on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BLMetadata or follow #BLMetadata.