Monday, January 18, 2010

Metadata mashups: Why library data has failed and can it be saved?

Great ALA panel discussion on metadata mashups: Kurt Groetsch Google), Karen Coyle (Open Library), Rene Register (OCLC).

The focus from the three presenters was how large scale projects are attempting to use/reuse library data (that's been created over hundreds of years) in new an exciting ways.

Creators of these new big projects are using lots of library metadata and dealing with it, but they are also getting data from lots of different places (Amazon, end-users, publishers via ONIX records, etc.). Library data sometimes plays well here, and sometimes doesn't.

Take away quote (Karen Coyle in response to the question, "Can libraries really afford to still be in the metadata business because we can't scale"): Libraries need to focus their energies on items that others don't care about but which still need attention Why would a library spend time on the new Stephen King novel, when millions of people do care and  will be happy to edit.  Libraries should focus on the items without current metadata or metadata that needs improvement that is not being done.

Some takeaways:
- please make metadata as fine grained as possible [Google]
- throw out MARC (said jokingly, but I don't think so!) [Google]
- be more open to new sources of data [Open Library]
- Onix is a mixed bag because of publishers' outsourcing creation [OCLC]
- Onix is useful, more machine-readable than MARC [Google]
- current metadata flow is very confused [OCLC]
- bibliographic metadata has a very long life cycle these days, from creation at the time the item is "published" through it's use in commercial areas, to random searching on the web, do later commercial reuse via things like POD [OCLC]
- like it or not, EFFECTIVE metadata will live in a social networked environment [Open Library]
- and at the same time, this will make popular stuff well done (Tolkien) but the mass of material will have to rely on concerned communities (e.g. libraries) for some level of metadata [Open Library]
- cataloging becomes an "ecosystem" where metadata lives and grows [Google]

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