Below is a summary of our recent conference on Innovation and Discovery written by Emma Booth from Metadata Services at LSE. Many thanks to Emma for giving us permission to include this on our blog.
Earlier this month, the biennial conference of the Cataloguing and Indexing Group took place at Swansea University’s Bay Campus, focusing upon metadata innovation and discovery.
The conference demonstrated how libraries, archives and museums are all striving to improve the quality of their metadata in order to enhance resource-discovery for their users. Papers and presentations covered a range of interesting and innovative metadata enrichment and quality- improvement projects, including collaborations between libraries, archives and special collections.
Several of the presentations revealed how refinements in metadata standards and the adoption of Linked Open Data formats such as BIBFRAME are enabling librarians to acquire new skills in metadata creation and manipulation, whilst simultaneously improving the discoverability of library-resources on external systems via the web. This is due to the fact that Linked Open Data standards allow bibliographic metadata to become compatible with web-data standards, and so be indexed by web-based search engines, rather than being hidden away in the library’s local catalogue or repository.
Furthermore, Linked Open Data standards enable users to explore the relationships and links between different works, individuals, events and places, which can open up new avenues for cross-disciplinary research. This means that library collections can expand their discoverability from local to global audiences and have a wider impact upon research and learning communities. As such, Linked Data projects enable an institution to shift towards a more ‘user-centric’ approach to resource discoverability, acknowledging the fact that researchers often choose to use external systems, tools and platforms to search for information, rather than just using a library catalogue.
Throughout the conference there were examples of the fundamental work that cataloguers and metadata librarians are doing on a daily basis in order to ensure that collections are made discoverable and accessible. Many libraries are investing time and staff resources in upgrading their legacy metadata records from old standards, and are steadily FRBRising their library catalogue in order to make its content more discoverable to users.
Many of the papers also expressed the view that, whilst the work of the metadata team is often hidden away from public view, cataloguing and metadata practices and workflows, together with systems and discovery layers, ultimately determine the user experience and, therefore, the user’s impression of a library’s quality. Without good quality, standardised bibliographic metadata it is impossible for a library-user to know what resources are in a library’s collections, whether they are relevant to the their research, how they relate to materials they have already accessed, or how to gain physical or electronic access to those resources. In essence, without bibliographic metadata there is no library!
The overall feeling of the conference was that metadata librarianship is in an exciting place, with great opportunities for expansion and innovation opening up through projects involving Linked Data. However, there was a feeling that cataloguers and metadata specialists need to be more vocal advocates for the work that they do, and for the importance of metadata enrichment projects at their institutions as a means of enhancing the user-experience and improving the discoverability of library collections.
Slides, workshop materials and posters from the conference can be found here.