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Thursday, November 8 • 3:40pm - 4:20pm
(Un)Structuring for the Next Generation: New Possibilities for Library Data with NoSQL

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For many years, libraries have relied upon relational databases (RDBMS) to store, manipulate, and query various types of data, and this database model works extremely well when data are highly structured. As the data become more complex, however, the relational database model strains under the burden of maintaining complex joins, which can decrease a database's performance and limit its functionality. Furthermore, data are not always best represented in the RDBMS's flat, tabular format. Library data often require flexibility and extensibility to accommodate the increasing volume and variety of library resources and metadata. To address these issues, transforming the underlying structure of data will be as important as transforming the data itself.

This presentation will explore alternative database models to highlight their inherent advantages and disadvantages compared to relational databases, particularly in the context of library data and the changes occurring within that landscape. Attendees should gain a clearer understanding of the complexities and issues surrounding library data, as well as the ways in which database structure and the organization of data affect each other. Examples using a NoSQL, multi-model database will also illustrate concepts related to this mutual dependency. Though technical in nature, this presentation is intended for anyone interested in, curious about, or frustrated by the structure of library data.

avatar for Dennis Christman

Dennis Christman

Metadata Transformation Librarian, Duke University Libraries

Matthew Harrington

Data Analyst, IT, Duke University Libraries