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Two torpedoes to line of flotation of the library cataloguing!

Metadata creation – Down and dirty (Updated)Hello,

This week I read in a listserv message the reference to a James Weinheimer’s post entitled Metadata creation – Down and dirty (Updated). I began to read it because the title suggested me the post could be useful to my students on Information Retrieval System Design.

Actually, the post was originally written in 1999 but, as Wienheimer explains, its content needs relatively few updates. Its first part is more traditional. Wienheimer explains the importance of consistency and standardized terminology in the metadata creation. The main aim of these techniques is “to bring similar items together”.

But, in my opinion, the most interesting parts are "updates". Here, Wienheimer expresses their scepticism “about the superiority of library methods” of cataloguing in a (web) world where all information is connected and library user expectations have changed. Let's see two Wienheimer’s pearls of wisdom:

“The unavoidable fact is, that world has almost disappeared already and the cataloging community must accept it. The cataloging goal of making our records into “linked data” means that our records can literally be sliced and diced and will wind up anywhere–not only in union catalogs that follow the same rules, not only in other library catalogs that may follow other rules, but quite literally anywhere. That is what linked data is all about and it has many, many consequences, not least of all for our “consistency”.”

“I have discovered that the idea of searching for authors or titles or subjects is being forgotten by many young people and they think only in terms of keywords. Even the notion that searching for information can actually be hard work is difficult for many to grasp when, in other spheres, they can find a new app or find reviews for a nearby restaurant in just a few seconds. When they have trouble finding information for a paper for class, they often think it is a problem not with themselves, but with the systems—especially library systems.”

Touché! Two torpedoes to line of flotation of the library cataloguing!

Enjoy it!

Andreu Sulé

University of Barcelona