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Metadata Tools

Nov - 29 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

I just read on a few quotes from the the report of the RLG Programs metadata practice survey on Lorcan Dempsey’s blog (I haven’t read the whole report yet) and wanted to add to his comments. The report says:

… RLG Programs surveyed 18 Partner institutions1 in July and August 2007 to obtain a baseline understanding of their current descriptive metadata practices. Although we saw some expected variations in practice across libraries, archives and museums, we were struck by the high levels of customization and local tool development, the limited extent to which tools and practices are, or can be, shared (both within and across institutions), the lack of confidence institutions have in the effectiveness of their tools, and the disconnect between their interest in creating metadata to serve their primary audiences and the inability to serve that audience within the most commonly used discovery systems (such as Google, Yahoo, etc.).

I have heard this many times. At our library we use a combination of metadata standards and the MarkLogic XML Content Server to deliver the information to our patrons.

That said – while our delivery system is awesome, creating a METS document is one of the most cumbersome things I’ve ever had to do! This standard is amazing – it has such power and I can’t think how to make it less stressful to create documents – but it just seems like someone created this standard to torture librarians. This is probably why so many librarians are unsure of their tools and their metadata.

I also find that there are many choices – somewhat too many choices on how we can format our data. There is Dublin Core, MODS, MARCXML, etc. As a cataloger I say we need to use MARCXML – it holds the most data and stays in line with our print collections. As a programmer I say MODS is the easiest to read and retrieve data from. And as a lazy person (yes I too can be lazy) I say Dublin Core because I only need to enter minimal information.

But how do you make these decisions? And have I gotten totally off track? I don’t have any hard and fast answers for you – all I know is that I sympathize with librarians who are unsure and think I should go and read the entire report before adding anything else.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Winona says:

    And this is where I put in a plug for XForms!

    As a fairly small operation simplifying (eliminating the need for xml knowledge) metadata creation was one of the top priorities for me in getting our project off the ground. Although the XForms still are a little lumpy, I’ve had a huge amount of sucess in using them to create both Dublin Core and MODS records, and I’d love to have one for METS but don’t.

    And Xforms can be used with most any digital asset management system. I would love to see libraries working on some standardized forms that can be shared.

  2. Winona says:

    And this is where I put in a plug for XForms!

    As a fairly small operation simplifying (eliminating the need for xml knowledge) metadata creation was one of the top priorities for me in getting our project off the ground. Although the XForms still are a little lumpy, I’ve had a huge amount of sucess in using them to create both Dublin Core and MODS records, and I’d love to have one for METS but don’t.

    And Xforms can be used with most any digital asset management system. I would love to see libraries working on some standardized forms that can be shared.

  3. Nicole says:

    I did forget to mention that – so thanks for adding your plug! Get something going for METS and you’ll have me pushing your tool all over!!! As it is I catalog our records and use YazProxy to pull them out in DC & MODS & MARCXML so the form I use is really just the one built into my cataloging module.

  4. Nicole says:

    I did forget to mention that – so thanks for adding your plug! Get something going for METS and you’ll have me pushing your tool all over!!! As it is I catalog our records and use YazProxy to pull them out in DC & MODS & MARCXML so the form I use is really just the one built into my cataloging module.


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