Introducing metadata Finding stuff and using stuff
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Introducing metadataFinding stuff and using stuffGordon Dunsire
OverviewWhat is metadata?What does it look like?What is it used for?How does it work?Where will it all end?
Definition?Data about dataInformation about informationInformation about an information resourceUseful information about a resourceUseful information about specific aspects of a resourceWhatever, theres a lot of it about
Example: URLhttp://www.slainte.org.uk/files/pdf/cilips/foisa04.pdfFreedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: a guide for the information professionalhttp = how to get the document (protocol)www.slainte.org.uk = where to find the document in cyberspace (domain)files/pdf/cilips = where the document is stored (path)foisa04 = the name of the document (file name)pdf = the type of document (file type):, /, . = standard punctuation separating each piece of information (element)
Example: Catalogue cardThe adventures of Sherlock Holmes / by A. Conan Doyle ; illustrations by Sidney Paget. - London : G. Newnes, 1895. The adventures of Sherlock Holms = title of the bookby A. Conan Doyle; illustrations by Sidney Paget = who is responsible for the creative content of the bookLondon = place of publication, G. Newnes = name of publisher1895 = date of publication/, ., -, : = standard punctuation separating each element
Example: Accessions/purchase registerDate |Title |Date|Sup|Price|Number10/02/65|Physics is fun |1964|THI| 7/6| 2015610/02/65|Physics is fun |1964|THI| 7/6| 2015710/02/65|Berkeley physics v.1 |1964|FAR|3/9/6| 2015810/02/65|Berkeley physics v.2 |1964|FAR|2/7/0| 2015910/02/65|Berkeley physics v.3 |1964|FAR|2/7/6| 2016010/02/65|Berkeley physics v.4 |1964|FAR|3/9/6| 2016110/02/65|Berkeley physics v.5 |1964|FAR|3/9/6| 20162
Some uses of metadata (1)Information retrieval (finding stuff)SearchingLists of metadata elements (title, authors, publisher, etc.)Words in (digital) metadata (title, notes, etc.)IdentifyingDescriptive metadata (title, notes, edition, date, etc.)FindingItem metadata (shelfmark, barcode, etc.)
Some uses of metadata (2)Stock management (managing stuff)AcquisitionDate, cost, supplier, etc.StorageCollection, shelfmarkCirculationBarcodePreservationFormat (serial, a-v, digital, etc.), date (age), etc.
Some uses of metadata (3)Automated processing (using stuff)Information retrievalOPACsAccess to digital resourcesGetting via Web browser, file transfer, etc.Displaying using browser plug-ins, etc.Multiple metadata records in multiple electronic locations with different metadata formats
Characteristics (1)A metadata record is (usually) significantly smaller than the stuff it describesCatalogue card vs bookMetadata is a precis or abstract of those aspects of the data deemed useful for retrieval, management, processing, etc.Abbreviations and codes are often usedSome exceptions include small manuscripts with a long history
Characteristics (2)Different types of information resource require different metadata elementsSome elements are common; e.g. title, datePublication pattern and frequency are specific to serial resourcesURLs dont apply to printed booksLocal preservation metadata is not required for remote digital resourcesEtc.
Characteristics (3)Many resources are composed of other resources, so metadata can be applied at different levels of granularityIn library catalogues, journals usually have metadata about the journal as a whole, and not about individual articlesArticles have metadata in abstract and indexing servicesSome libraries catalogue multi-media kits as a whole; others catalogue each component
Value of consistencyA benefit of metadata is to provide consistency and coherency in using and processing resourcesResources themselves come with the widest variation in intrinsic metadataForms of title, etc.; layout; completeness; etc.Metadata can be created consistently and structured coherently to improve effectiveness and efficiency in its useSimilarities and differences easier to spot
Achieving consistencyEnsuring consistent metadata is not simpleCommon and format-specific elements as well as creative reaction to the normCeci nest pas une pipeNatural variation in naming and describing thingsJ. Smith, John Smith, John Smith (Labour), etc.Requires standards and guidance
Metadata standardsCoherent set of elements organised (structured and labelled) in a consistent way a schema (loosely)Title or Caption? Include the subtitle or use a Subtitle element? Always include a title?Guidance on identifying and interpreting elements in the resourceTitle on spine, cover or title-page?Guidance on standardising contentInclude The at the start of the title?
From the local Achieving consistency benefits local users of metadata (efficient, effective)Self-propelled users become non-local, so there are benefits in achieving consistency between librariesAnd metadata creation is complex (expensive), so there is value in sharing records
to the globalSo national and international standards have been used since the first modern library catalogues (100+ years)With significant evolution from the 1960sComputers; machine-readable cataloguingAnd again from the 1990sInternet/Web; common information environment including archives and museums
Some standards (1)MARC21 (21st century machine-readable cataloguing)40 years old; covers wide range of library stuff in depthDifficult to use - requires professional trainingDC (Dublin Core) Ohio, that is10 years old; covers wider range of stuff (archives, museums) at much less depthEasier to use by a wider range of peopleDC/MARC structures can interoperate via element mappings
Some standards (2)AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules)Older than MARC; covers wide range of library stuff in depthComplements MARC; requires professional trainingUndergoing radical development as RDA (Resource Description and Access)Becoming suitable for DC and other formatsContent interoperability
Whither metadata?Many formats in useWide variation in coverage and contentNo longer created exclusively by trained professionalsWider interpretation of the rules (if any)Needs to be joined-up so it can be used effectively at a global (non-local) levelInteroperability!
Joined-up metadataCaters to a wider range of usersPublic/life-long learners/local business; staff/students; teachers/learners/researchers; archives/libraries/museumsCovers a wider range of resourcesOriginals/digitised copies; complex websites/blogs/wikis; archives/libraries/museumsIs created by a wider range of peopleAcquisitions/cataloguing/serials; webpage writers/online reviewers/wikis/folksonomists
RecapMetadata is useful information about specific aspects of a resourceSpecific aspects are structured and labelled as metadata elementsDifferent types of resource have different sets of elements, with a common core setNon-local use is increasingly importantStandards are evolving to improve usefulness
Thank youDunsire, GordonMe / My parents. - Kirkcaldy : The parents, email@example.com My card
Gordon Dunsire is Depute Director of the Centre for Digital Library Research at the University of Strathclyde.
He carries out research in metadata standards and interoperability and is a principal developer of the Cooperative Information Retrieval Network for Scotland (CAIRNS) and Scottish Collections Network (SCONE) services.
He is a professionally-trained library cataloguer with 30 years experience.
He chairs the Cataloguing and Indexing Group in Scotland, and is a member of the BL-CILIPS Committee on AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) and CILIP Committee on DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification)The presentation will briefly examine the definition of metadata, and then discuss some examples of metadata to be found in libraries.
Some of the main library uses of metadata are outlined. Characteristics which allow this to happen are presented.
The importance of standards is discussed, with a brief history of their development at national and international level.It can be difficult to provide a succint definition of what metadata is.
Data about data is a literal definition, but it isnt very enlightening.
One property of metadata of interest to librarians and other information professionals is that it provides useful information about the stuff that they deal with; that is, information resources.
More precisely, metadata provides information about the various resources made available in libraries and information services; this information is intended for use by a variety of staff and users in various aspects of the workings of a library.Metadata is created for many different purposes, and exists in many different guises, some of which are not obvious.
One example is the URL of a digital information resource, such as the online version of a publication from CILIPS.
URLs contain several distinct pieces of information which are used to access the resource, including method of access (such as hypertext transport protocol, or file transfer protocol), digital location of the computer storing the resource, location of the resource within that computer, the name of the file, and the type of the file.
These elements are separated by standard punctuation which allows the web browser to isolate and use them.
Human users are also able to extract useful information from the URL.A more traditional example of metadata found in libraries is the catalogue card.
The card contains printed or hand-written metadata describing various elements of an item of library stock which allow it to be identified and accessed by a human use