April 2010 Archives
The Web is a great equalizer of metadata. On the one hand, the lines between professional and amateur creators of metadata are blurring (the subject for another blog post at some point). On the other, the lines between well organized, but historically insular communities of metadata practice--like publishers and libraries--are beginning to blur also, and for good reason. Better aligning the library and publishing metadata traditions to enable large-scale metadata re-use and exchange has the potential to lower internal costs and improve discoverability of published works for both publishers and libraries.
Before either of those outcomes are attainable for the publishing and library communities, both need to learn more about the other's metadata practices, what standards are in place, how these standards are structurally and semantically the same and different, and how the metadata produced using these standards support desired outcomes (such as connecting information seekers with published works at the point of need; showing what is available in a given collection; or assisting in the choice or delivery of a particular item).
The recently released report "Mapping ONIX to MARC," from OCLC research scientist Carol Jean Godby, makes impressive progress in answering these questions. In this report, Dr. Godby shares what she and a team at OCLC learned in the process of implementing Metadata Services for Publishers, which was introduced in 2009. Metadata Services for Publishers' main activity consists of OCLC's receiving records for new items directly from publishers in the form of ONIX, enriching the metadata using WorldCat data elements, returning the enriched metadata to publishers, and then adding the blended metadata to WorldCat.
Dr. Godby provides the metadata specialist with an informative, detailed look at the work of converting and using ONIX data in the context of library bibliographic databases. Particularly helpful is the considerable detail about crosswalking ONIX to MARC. Dr. Godby is skillful in describing some of the structural and syntactical peculiarities of MARC. These issues directly inform current discussion in the library data world about a wholesale transitioning from MARC to other formats.
The report also represents an advance in conceptualizing the crosswalking process at a useful level of abstraction. Godby describes a "crosswalk" as a set of self-contained "maps" which each describe "a source, a target, and, optionally, some conditional logic." Several related maps (i.e., those handling publication identifiers) can be treated together as a "mapping." A crosswalk, in this conception, is a human-readable document which must be made into a machine-readable set of instructions for the task at hand.
A further, in-depth description of some of the mappings will be of particular value, and perhaps comfort, to anyone who has wrestled with MARC metadata. Another point of interest to many will be the fact that the crosswalk developed for the program is publicly available from the OCLC Web site and EdItEUR for comment and further development.
--Karen Calhoun and John Chapman
This issue has become more prominent recently due to a rapid uptake of the CONTENTdm "Quickstart" version, which is included with a FirstSearch Base Package subscription. OCLC's adoption of the OAIster database, which contains a variety of metadata formats including DC, also encouraged us to think about ways to publish best practices for representing collections in DC.
Since August 2009, the CONTENTdm Metadata Working Group, facilitated by OCLC but comprising an open membership of CONTENTdm users, have been developing a formal best practices document. The latest current version, "'Best Practices' for CONTENTdm users creating shareable metadata: Draft 1.8" can be found at http://www.contentdm.org/USC/BestPracticesGuide.pdf. The Guide is authored by Geri Ingram of OCLC Digital Collection Services, Myung-Ja "MJ" Han of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Sheila Bair of Western Michigan University. They have received crucial support from Jason Lee, OCLC Fellow, and the members of the Metadata Working Group.
Not content to rest, the Metadata Working Group is acting on a variety of fronts to extend the utility of their guidelines. They have been testing their schemas in the Digital Collections Gateway, a new self-mapping tool. They are also extending the Guide with addenda regarding compound objects in CONTENTdm, crosswalking, and consortial metadata harvesting. In all of their work, they are keeping in mind the important balance between representing collections in ways that are usable for both local users and the global community.
ITHAKA is an organization that supports the digital preservation of research and literature through JSTOR and Portico. They pursue important consultative activity through their Ithaka S+R operation. One major project is the triennial Faculty Survey. The 2009 issue is now available at http://www.ithaka.org/ithaka-s-r/research/faculty-surveys-2000-2009/Faculty%20Study%202009.pdf.
The findings presented in Chapter 1 of the 2009 Survey, "Discovery and the Evolving Role of the Library" promise to be of keen interest to those building and maintaining library online catalogs. The headline of this blog entry is taken from page 7 of the report. Throughout the report, the reader will also find interesting evidence about faculty preferences and behaviors, particularly those related to scholarly communications.
Building on a great level of community interest, the Ithaka S+R team have announced a series of webinars to flesh out and further explore specific sections of the report. OCLC staff will be attending, and we recommend you do so as well.
Further information about the webinars is available at http://www.ithaka.org/about-ithaka/announcements/ithaka-s-r-upcoming-webinars-2009-faculty-survey-findings.
The members of the Record Use Policy Council (RUPC) created this draft and they are now seeking input on it. Speaking as one of the twelve members of the RUPC, I would say that the RUPC's draft owes a good deal to OCLC members and others who were willing to speak up and make their perspectives known. Last year's involved community discussion, followed up by the RUPC's hard work between September 2009 and now, have engendered a new draft policy that (I believe) balances members' needs to share their metadata with the need to sustain the shared resource that is WorldCat.
As the RUPC began its work, we relied on many sources, including the scholarly literature, to inform our thinking. A key source was Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, a collection of papers edited by Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University. One of the most important influences on the approach and tone of the book is the Nobel-prize winning work of Elinor Ostrom.
Elinor Ostrom earned her prize, said the Nobel committee, "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." In their opening chapter of Understanding Knowledge as a Commons, she and colleague Charlotte Hess join many scholars who have criticized the contentions of Hardin and his "tragedy of the commons" as mistaken; at the same time they argue that knowledge and information commons, as shared resources, are vulnerable to "social dilemmas."
Hess and Ostrom's work recognizes that successful, durable knowledge or information commons require strong collective action, self-governing mechanisms, agreed norms of reciprocity, the means to resolve disputes, and more. Their ideas provided a useful framework for thinking about and articulating the objectives of the RUPC's draft policy.
I join the RUPC members in encouraging you to take advantage of this time for community review. We welcome your thoughts about the draft policy. Several methods for providing input to the RUPC are available.The period of community review is scheduled for April and most of May.