Summary of September meeting

As the Metadata Discussion Group is entering its fourth year, it was time to sit down and do some reflecting. After a round of introductions, the group discussed the following recommendations made by the Cataloging Division Managers (CDM) group:

  1. Broaden the focus of the group beyond reading an article and discussing it
  2. Use a room with a PC and screen, so that discussion can have visual/audio when appropriate
  3. Use a survey to assess interest
  4. Have more [local] projects featured

The group tackled the easiest item first: venues. A couple of suggestions were within the Wells Library; however it was pointed out that holding meetings at locations outside of the Wells Library may encourage new metadata stakeholders to attend meetings. In addition, certain topics might benefit from a change in location, for instance, discussing special collections metadata at the Lilly Library. Participants agreed to try Wells Library 043 for October’s meeting but that broader input was needed to set venue locations for future meetings.

The discussion of which format to adopt for this year’s group yielded many interesting options! One participant argued that the previous format (reading an article and discussing it) was beneficial because articles are written persuasively; discussion arises from whether you agree with the author’s argument or not. Another participant thought that forward-thinking and abstract articles needed to be balanced with writings that focus on key concepts. The participant cited the book Metadata by Marcia Lei Zeng and Jian Qin1 as an example of a textbook that would provide readings (and quiz questions!) in basic metadata concepts.

In an attempt to define a format that is more flexible, the moderator suggested sharing more diverse kinds of resources as alternatives to reading an article. Resources might be websites (one might compare how authority control is handled in LibraryThing versus how it is handled in Goodreads), blog posts, project wikis, newly launched discovery portals, etc. Others responded positively to the CDM’s fourth recommendation, to feature metadata projects that are happening on campus, perhaps by inviting a guest from that project to help facilitate discussion. Demonstrations of new metadata tools and discussing how those tools impact metadata workflows were also of interest to the group.

Participants seemed encouraged by more options in format; although one participant warned that the mission of the group is to discuss metadata topics, not to become a workshop. This attention to intent of the group spurred a participant to ask whether the name “Metadata Discussion Group” adequately reflects the aim and intent of the group. One name suggestion was “Metadata Roundtable.”

Brainstorming topics to be discussed this year was the last bit of housekeeping. The suggestions were: MARC mappings, cloud computing, linked data/semantic web, the future of OPACs, FRBR with particular interest in record architecture rather than front-end display, the Library of Congress Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative, how to deal with legacy data, conceptual data models, authority control and linked data, and metadata unique to different formats (such as metadata for archives).

A discussion evolved regarding how to recruit more metadata stakeholders to join our discussions. A participant pointed out that a number of working groups, including the Photo Services Working Group and the EAD Working Group, have interest in advancing metadata dialogue. The Digital Library Program continues to be a huge metadata partner in the libraries. A participant suggested reaching out to SLIS students and faculty members as well.

In order to set the format and topics for the year, a number of participants recommended conducting a survey. The moderator will collect final suggestions from the MDG listserv and then post a survey to measure interest in formats and topics for the 2011-2012 academic year. In addition, participants recommended that a comprehensive survey be conducted at the end of academic year to evaluate the effectiveness of the group.

The meeting closed with a brief, open-floor news sharing session. The suit filed against Haiti Trust and partner universities was the hot topic of the morning. A participant gave an account of the launch of the Archives Online, a re-branded portal to all of Indiana University’s archival finding aids. Of particular interest was the Meier mss. collection finding aid, which harkens a newly developed technology to deliver folder-level digital items, ideal for collections that are not fully scanned. The moderator mentioned a very recent blog post by Diane Hillman on converting MARC21 to RDF.


1. Zeng, Marcia Lei and Jian Qin. Metadata. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2008. 9781555706357

Author- Jennifer A. Liss

Human. Librarian. Consumes large quantities of data. http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3641-4427