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Miscellaneous Metadata

Role of catalogers and metadata people

October 19th, 2012 by Sarah Theimer

In my latest ALCTS post I talk about the future role of catalogers and the gap that exists between what should be expected/performed by catalogers and what is expected/performed by catalogers. How are we at Syracuse attempting to tackle this problem?

Examples of collaboration between metadata/cataloging and systems include:

  • bulk loading of records for ebooks, OCLC project loads,
  • monthly uploading Bibliographic notification records
  • transfering metadata from  ContentDM to the XTF platform

If cataloging professionals were to take the cosmological view described by Murray and Tillett (Cataloging Theory in Search of Graph Theory and Other Ivory Towers Dec. 2011) we would contribute our specialized knowledge in the organization of information to inform the conceptual and structural planning of new services.  In theory this is great, however, it reminds me of wanting to repour the foundation of your house while you are unclogging the kitchen sink.  Currently cataloging/metadata staff are necessarily knee deep in stack and database maintenance issues rather than creation of new, better methods of creation, displaying and accessing metadata. This is partially due to the long standing traditional idea of the role of catalogers/metadata staff.

How do we break out?  There is a chicken and the egg dilemma here.  Do you get a new skill and then hope somewhere to apply it will appear or do you wait until the need is evident and then go get trained? Because these are new skills the first instinct might be to assume that cataloging/metadata staff can’t do that and to immediately go to a different department.  That is the box that cataloging and metadata staff must think outside of.

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One Response to “Role of catalogers and metadata people”

  1. Ron Murray Says:

    While It *is* difficult to concern oneself with “bit picture approaches” like the one on our paper when wrestling with demands of the moment.

    But in order to effect any major change, one needs something to work towards – and, in small and large ways, to help create a demand for the change. The tech then follows

    Our paper looks beyond the library world to other fields (esp. our old friends, the sciences) to show how our similar approaches in observing what’s “out there” warrant closer attention to how we document what we *say* is out there.

    This is not an IT issue – this is what I call “life before data.”

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