Monthly Archives: July 2012

Open Education Metadata UK

Open Education Metadata UK is a project funded by JISC that aims to make “collections of mainly bibliographic education metadata openly available…” in a variety of formats in addition to MARC. The project team experiments with Drupal for cataloging exam papers and textbooks. It offers possibilities traditional ILSs don’t have for speeding up data entry, e.g. by prepopulating fields or having Ajax suggest field values. They don’t create “just in case” metadata but instead focus on the data researchers really need and on semantically enriching the records using controlled vocabularies and thesauri. “If non-essential metadata can be auto-generated it may well be created; but we are not going to use limited resources creating non-essential metadata just in case it might be of use to someone in the future…” They also show some potential new tasks for professional catalogers. But go read for yourself the brilliant blog post “Professional cataloguing: the OEM-UK way”!

Cataloging in the cloud

The cloud computing models [1] of leading library systems vendors will not only change the way data is stored, but will also affect the way we catalog. Although this area is still very much in flux, there are a few trends that can be foreseen.

  • global and local – what will these terms mean in the future? Where is the place for local modifications to a “master record”? If I still need to copy data from the global community zone into my library zone to add a local classsification, for example, we replicate the current redundancy of storing data in two places.
  • more content, less standard – please forgive my being heretical: we’ll have to be less stringent about our standards. We will have access to metadata from a variety of sources in the community catalog (both from an institutional as well as geographical point of view), and many sources are beyond the libraries’ control. Even with RDA, there will likely be local/regional “vernaculars” because not everyone will agree on the same policies and rule interpretations world-wide. This is a global database that is bound to deviate in one way or another from both content and data format standards. I could go on about the need for a simple, easy to follow standard in the context of data aggregation and sharing, but I won’t for the moment 😉
  • governance – with member libraries from all over the world potentially using the same community zone which they access through a URM system like Alma or WorldShare, there’ll be guidelines as to what kinds of enhancements are possible, who has which rights for editing, how to proceed when sharing data etc. When conflicting views or doubts arise, there should be someone to turn to for help.

Will this new technical architecture amount to a paradigm shift for cataloging? I’m not sure yet, but one thing is certain: we’re headed in the direction of a “global consortium”, in which system vendors become data providers.

[1] The buzzwords are public cloud, community cloud, library cloud and private cloud, with, simply put, the community cloud/zone being a vast pool of metadata participating libraries can use for their “local” catalog, the library cloud.