Monthly Archives: November 2011

Read/write cataloging

Two examples of crowd-sourced cataloging at the recent LITA National Forum [1]: The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enables users to download articles from digitized volumes and create their own metadata for them, which are (given sufficient quality) included in CiteBank, an aggregation platform for citations of  and access to biodiversity related articles. This is one method of providing the much-needed article-level discovery: “BHL currently contains interfaces and services that allow users to create their own PDF articles. These documents are retained when appropriate metadata have been provided and are made available to other users through CiteBank.”

The Chicago Underground Library (now renamed the Read/Write Library) allows members of the community to catalog items: “We instruct catalogers to list every contributor to the publication, whether the author, editor, typesetter, or illustrator. They are provided with several controlled taxonomies for defining the format of the item and subjects, but then are also asked to contribute their own tags and write a very short abstract. Another key component of the metadata is that we ask catalogers to assign a geolocation tag to describe either where the item was published or what it describes, which supports navigating the catalog by neighborhood.” If they like, library visitors can play an active role in describing the resources in the collection.

These two initiatives present cataloging not as “read-only” but also as an activity users can participate in, providing a granular level of information. While this involves (to a certain extent) letting go of library standards, quality is monitored by professional librarians in both cases.

[1] Bianca Crowley, Trish Rose-Sandler: “Crowd-sourcing the creation of ‘articles’ within the Biodiversity Heritage Library” (slides)

Margaret Heller, Nell Taylor: “Social Networking the Catalog: A Community Based Approach to Building Your Catalog and Collection” (PDF)