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Wikidata:Property proposal/British Library system number

British Library system numberEdit

Originally proposed at Wikidata:Property proposal/Authority control

DescriptionNine digit identifier for an edition of a book held by the British Library
RepresentsBritish Library system number (Q53571158)
Data typeExternal identifier
Domainversion, edition, or translation (Q3331189)
Allowed values\d{9}
ExampleEngland Delineated (5th edition) (Q52230303) -> 000033859
SourceBritish Library online catalogue (Q53556514)
Planned useMy immediate aim for this would be to record data for titles from the British Library Nineteenth Century digitised books collection, a set of 68,000 digitised volumes made available online CC0 by the British Library, the source for the 1-million image "Mechanical Curator" image collection, increasing parts of which are now on Commons.
Number of IDs in sourcemore than 15 million
Expected completenessalways incomplete (Q21873886)
Formatter URL$1
Robot and gadget jobsimport of book details from BL Mechanical Curator dataset / BL catalogue


These were used in the "Mechanical Curator" data+images release as the main reference numbers for titles. I started using catalog code (P528) to record them; but on reflection I think a specific property is better, because they can be related to a URL and have the status of an external ID. Also people seem to assume a P528 value would normally represent a particular physical object, whereas the BL system numbers identify something much more like our version, edition, or translation (Q3331189) -- the 'holdings information' in the catalogue may reveal several distinct physical copies for a single system number.

One difference with how we create version, edition, or translation (Q3331189) items is that the BL assign a new system number for an online facsimile, whereas we would (at least initially) normally just represent such scans with a full work available at (P953) statement in the edition item. Some edition items may therefore acquire two BL system numbers, distinguished by qualifiers, ie England Delineated (5th edition) (Q52230303) -> 000033859 subject has role (P2868) "physical copy" / 014803656 subject has role (P2868) "digital copy" Jheald (talk) 14:24, 18 May 2018 (UTC)


  • Proposed. Jheald (talk) 14:24, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support David (talk) 16:38, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support however it sounds like this might not really be an identifier for the work, but for a particular manifestation or even for each physical item? For example, if the library has 10 copies of a book, would it have 1 id or 10? ArthurPSmith (talk) 17:31, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
@ArthurPSmith: From what I've seen it would have about three or four IDs, one for each edition. That's why I have said its domain is not book (Q571), nor is it item of collection or exhibition (Q18593264) (do we in fact have an item to specify the class of individual books?), but rather version, edition, or translation (Q3331189) which is what I think it reasonably closely corresponds to (or aims to, at least). Jheald (talk) 18:33, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I have gone ahead and created individual copy of book (Q53731850), since of all of the classes that items with property exemplar of (P1574) belonged to, it seemed that none of them covered this (the nearest, arguably, was incunable (Q216665), but that only applies to objects made before 1500); nor could I find an item for the concept via search. The new item could use some work, including possibly a better label, aliases, and class statements, so please do give it a look over. However, it is not what a BL system number typically references -- an individual physical copy of a book at the BL is identified by a shelfmark. Jheald (talk) 19:29, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Thanks for proposing this property - I like it and can see it being very useful for my editing. Simon Cobb (Sic19 ; talk page) 18:27, 24 May 2018 (UTC)

@Jheald, ديفيد عادل وهبة خليل 2, ArthurPSmith:   Done: British Library system number (P5199). − Pintoch (talk) 08:42, 26 May 2018 (UTC)