It occurred to me recently yet again that on the whole to the general public, that library work is not connected to information organisation and retrieval, the semantic web and intuitive search engines, or systems technology and interoperable automated applications. Excusing the localised vernacular, here are my thoughts:
Metadata? What do you mean?
Super Mets as I’m fondly calling them, are the Super Librarians dealing in cataloguing and metadata, data harvesting, creative data outputting and mass digitisation. Without them, us, there would be only chaos!
Information in chaos? What does that mean?
To place information into a repository with no means of retrieving it…imagine a database of 250,000 items and to find the one about ‘x’ you had to browse its entirety to find it. Now imagine attaching metadata; a description of ‘x’ and into the search field you type a section of this description. You retrieve not only ALL items related to ‘x’ (which may only be 15) but also the top item that you have described. That little piece of magic that helps you to retrieve the information you want…thats metadata!
How do cataloguers and metadata specialists make this happen?
Essentially with taxonomies (hierarchical groups of items), ontologies (sets of concepts and their relations to each other) and controlled vocabulary (subject headings).
Is this antiquated? Personally I don’t believe it is. However it is time to challenge how library roles are performed in order to facilitate a progressive leap into systems management and the semantic web. Provenance, discovery and evaluation will still be the significant reason for librarianship, alongside information literacy.
Sustainable metadata roles are only increasing but there has to be flexibility, adaptability, customer service skills, problem solving and horizon scanning. It also means that we have to be looking at the delivery and organisation of e-resources in terms of resource discovery and systems functions. We have to look towards cloud computing and how it can be used to create a more effective and possibly greener IT infrastructure.
Yes…the roots of all technology usage, the learning of how to search, find and evaluate ‘things’ that you find in various mixed media resources.
Finally, in order to find this blog post you were helped by metadata albeit augmented self tagging: libraries, metadata, cataloguing, semantic web, information organisation and retrieval, information chaos, librarianship, taxonomies, ontology, subject headings, resource discovery
“thoughts from scarlettlibrarian”