Monday, 20 April 2015

Metadata Update #24 : Metadata as part of the user experience

Sometimes I find a blog post that puts into words the sorts of things that I have been trying to find a way to state for myself. 

Erin Leach has written a blog post called "On metadata and user experience " which gets to the heart of many things that I have been thinking about lately:

Sometimes in libraries we worry about what our discovery interfaces look like, the sorts of experiences our patrons have using them and whether the colours are attractive or not but forget about the metadata and the metadata quality which are often critical in determining whether or not patrons can find resources in the collection.

I certainly have heard librarians, who work outside of cataloguing and metadata, say that they think that the new discovery layers can somehow magically "fix" problems with metadata.  There seems to be a belief that technology magically repairs records and overcomes metadata problems.  When the problems aren't resolved, it's believed that there is a failure in the search interface and not that there are problems existing within the records themselves.

Unfortunately, to some extent or another, all libraries have problematic bibliographic databases.  There are multiple causes which range from changes in cataloguing rules and standards over the years to local tweaking and attempts to economize in the area of metadata creation. Ultimately, there must be some way to improve the quality of the metadata rather than putting all of the emphasis on the appearance and functionality of search interfaces.  This doesn't necessarily mean to redo and entire bibliographic database but to systematically and efficiently repair the most critical problems.

Leah discusses how cataloguers and metadata librarians need to speak up for themselves and the quality of metadata in terms which will be relevant and understandable to their colleagues and library administrators.  I agree with this sentiment.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately and it is reassuring to learn that other librarians are thinking along the same lines.

I thought that sharing this blog post would provide an excellent segue into my next post which has been in the works for a number of months.

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