Learning to SPARQL

One of the more opaque aspects of learning about linked data can be understanding and using SPARQL to query RDF triple stores. In a recent post to the LODLAM Google group (which originated on the CODE4LIB list) Arwen Hutt (Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego) asked a question about any SPARQL workshops that might be available. He received references to a number of good resources that I thought I’d highlight for anyone interested in learning to SPARQL.

UK Library and IT consultant Owen Stephens suggests his presentation from November, 2013, called, “Selecting with SPARQL: Searching Linked Data with SPARQL Using the British National Library Data.” If you read the opening sentence to this post and didn’t understand a thing I was talking about, Owen‘s presentation is a great place to start.

Andrew Gordon (New York Academy of Medicine) points to this “slow building step-by-step” tutorial created by by W3C SPARQL Working Group co-chair Lee Feigenbaum and W3C team member Eric Prud’hommeaux: “SPARQL by Example: A Tutorial.”

And Debra Shapiro from the iSchool at UW-Madison mentions an American Library Association webinar delivered in February by Bob Ducharme (Top Quadrant) called, “SKOS, SPARQL and Vocabulary Managment” which he bills as a “tour not a tutorial.” This 45 minute presentation is also a good introduction to the subject and includes a review of triples, RDF, URIs. linked data, controlled vocabularies and other semantic web principles.

Some great resources to get you started and help you learn to SPARQL!

If you’re interested in pursing this topic at a more in depth level have a look at Dean Allemang and Jim Hendler‘s book, “Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist.”


  1. In addition to the presentation that Debra pointed to, you might find my O’Reilly book “Learning SPARQL” helpful as well.