The cataloging landscape is changing. This recent article in NextSpace, entitled “The catalog is out of the box”, highlights the fact that cataloging (or rather metadata creation) extends beyond producing data for display in library catalogs and metadata is being used in innovative ways. Data and metadata are increasingly gaining importance as we move from a web of documents to a web of data, and so are the people who create and curate them – those people just might be previous catalogers.
New job titles emerge like that of the data librarian, and new fields of activity are opening up both inside and outside libraries for data curators and creators (formerly known as “catalogers”?). It’s great to see that catalogers are involved in various projects (which attests to a certain degree of visibility of that specific skill set) and that there is an “acknowledgment that metadata is an essential element in the information infrastructure”.
If catalogers look beyond traditional library cataloging and broaden their notion of what “cataloging” is, we can see where and by whom our skills are needed, and we can meet that demand by enhancing our core competencies (being precise, analytical, following rules and standards etc.). We will benefit from acquiring more skills in building and implementing ontologies for different domains, data modeling for information systems other than the library catalog, and technological know-how.
It’s not hard to predict that we will see semantic technologies play a major role in metadata processing, interchange and presentation. As mentioned in the article, metadata is increasingly combined in new and meaningful ways. Truly computer-understandable metadata will get more important in the face of “intelligent” applications. Catalogers can bring analytical and conceptual thinking to the table, but we should not shy away from technology, either.
It’s also desirable for catalogers to have some understanding of where other communities are going in terms of metadata, ontologies and semantic techniques (the sciences – check out Anita de Waard‘s work, for example; medicine; museums; archives). This will make their skills transferrable to emerging information services like those presented in the article and marketable both inside and outside the library world.