Lovingly crafting a mountain, not by hand: managing piles of metadata


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Presentation at the British Columbia Library Conference on 1 April 2014.

Economics, time, and the burgeoning increase in the numbers of resources that libraries are acquiring or providing access to all conspire against being able to spend much time getting a metadata record perfect. Sometimes, getting a record barely good enough can be a challenge -- one record down, 50,000 more to go. In this session, Galen Charlton will discuss tools and techniques for managing ever-larger piles of metadata using open source tools, with an emphasis on iterative improvement and distributed collaboration.

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  • Edifiace of metadata
  • Blue sky topics
  • In the weeds
  • Lovingly crafting a mountain, not by hand: managing piles of metadata

    1. 1. Lovingly crafting a mountain, not by hand: managing piles of metadata Galen Charlton 2014 BCLA Conference
    2. 2. "View of Mountains in Denali National Park" by Arthur Chapman (CC-SA) https://flic.kr/p/6Z1RY1
    3. 3. “Blue Sky” by Dennis Wong (CC-SA) https://flic.kr/p/4KKaCR
    4. 4. Mountains build themselves • Billions and billions served • 2,000,000,000 in OCLC WorldCat as of 4 May 2013
    5. 5. Thousands and thousands served • The local catalog doesn’t go away • Depends on how you define “local”
    6. 6. Economics • Catalogers and metadata librarians don’t grow on trees • Neither does the money to pay them • Standards froth is not appealing • Content creators do grow on trees… in the jungle… in a rainstorm
    7. 7. Where does this put us… Weeds sprayed in horse pasture by eXtensionHorses CC-BY-SA https://flic.kr/p/a1e8Ug
    8. 8. Back to the future • One record at a time isn’t the answer • “[I]deally, catalogers shouldn't be creators of bibliographic records, but be builders of catalogs – John J. Vosmek on AUTOCAT (http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.education.libraries.autocat/32733)
    9. 9. Approaches • Throw up our hands • Hire an army of metadata librarians AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD! • Google will save us – Er, no • Improving our silos • Building the silo to contain all silos
    10. 10. Discovery • A little metadata is almost always better than none at all. • Where’s Waldo? • More metadata is better, up to a point • Itarasion – Itaration • Iteration
    11. 11. Tool-building • Tools for the whole catalog • Borrowing ideas
    12. 12. Programmers’ tools • Laziness • Version control – Easy come, easy go • Efficient sharing of changes – Linked Data • Distribution
    13. 13. DBAs’ tools • Mass changes • Storing all the history • Reports and statistics
    14. 14. Bean-counters’ tools • What is the bottom line? – The users • Ye olde value proposition – … doesn’t lie in any particular record
    15. 15. The traditional catalogers’ tools • There’s still a lot to be said for “get it right the first time” • But it’s time for “don’t get it wrong the first time” • Consistency
    16. 16. Tools available now • MARC::Lint • XC Metadata Services Toolkit • Traditional record cleanup services – But efficient for the whole community?
    17. 17. Tools to build or expand on • Better expression of changes • Better communication of changes • Metadata analysis services • Better viewers • Even better “record” editors – Particularly ones that reach out by default
    18. 18. Challenges • Iteration can look suspiciously like gold-plating • Iteration of schemata can look suspiciously like bikeshedding • The real world is, annoyingly, messy
    19. 19. Vocabulary • Iteration • Laziness • Version control • Distribution • It takes a village to raise a mountain.
    20. 20. Thanks! Galen Charlton @gmcharlt gmc@esilibrary.com