Harvard Library Open Metadata

The Harvard Library is committed to making as much of its metadata as possible available through open access in order to support learning and research, to disseminate knowledge and to foster innovation.  Open access to metadata aligns with the university’s established commitment to open access for scholarly communication. 

Harvard Library Policy on Open Metadata

The Harvard Library provides open access to library metadata, subject to legal and privacy factors. In particular, the Library makes available its own catalog metadata under appropriate broad use licenses. The Library Board is responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and modifying it as necessary.

Explanatory Material

Does the policy apply only to catalog metadata?

No, it applies to all metadata that the library holds. For instance, the metadata from the DASH repository is also distributed under an open license.

What legal and privacy factors might restrict access to library metadata?

Some metadata may have been placed under contractual obligations preventing distribution prior to the establishment of this policy. In such cases, of course, the library cannot legally, and will not, distribute the metadata beyond what such agreements allow.

Metadata that involves the usage of library materials by individual patrons will not be distributed without sufficient anonymization or aggregation to provide reasonable protection against the reconstruction of individual patron usage.

What license is used for metadata?

Because each metadata set may have individual legal and privacy characteristics, appropriate licenses are designed on an individual dataset basis. However, the goal is to make these licenses as broad as possible.