There is no metadata just data

Why is there a rift between the library catalogue and the repository? The separation between the two has been bugging me.

In our catalogue we record PhD dissertations, because they are books, innit? But there is a whole section for Dissertations in the repository because you can’t get your degree without submitting it. And many dissertations are born digital nowadays so they aren’t ‘books’ anymore. But then, the catalogue is filled with ebooks, these are books aren’t they?

And at the end of the day, what matters is some metadata describing the object and how you can get the actual object. Where ‘get’ can be a shelfnumber, PDF, SFX etc. and who knows a cortical shunt if we can get the details worked out.

For the past few months I have been building our institutional repository infrastructure, my colleagues have been building a new Discovery system, work continues apace on our catalogue, and I just can’t shake the feeling that we are all barking on different sides of the same tree. There are probably some very good organisational, political and historical reasons that I am just not aware of, being a newbie in library-land. Would love to learn about it though.

This thought was spewed by me on Twitter too, and Peter van Boheemen pointed me to his relevant blog post on what they are doing in this direction. Via Twitter we also received a pointer to The OLE Project which is exploring the same theme.

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2 Comments on “There is no metadata just data”

  1. Peter van Boheemen Says:

    The reasons are partly political. For example: the institution output is not registered by the library. Most reasons are historical. Libraries have this ‘closed’ Integrated Library System. Now they want to register local publications and expose them via OAI-PMH. The ILS does not support such behaviour. Vendors sell a separate system where you have to register the same data or enthusiastic developers build a repository system from scratch and expose it as open source and libraries start using this. And now they got stuck with it. We are facing problems as well, since Metis is used for the initial ingestion of WUR publications. The objects themselves however are stored in our depot, with only technical metatadata. Descriptions are registered in our Library CMS. It is challenging since not only local publications are initially registered somewhere else. Catalog records are inititially registered in the Dutch Union catalog (GGC). The records that are described in the LCMS only are article descriptions of non Wageningen authors, since article records are not registered in the Union Catalog. Life is hard (uhh challenging)

  2. Patrick Hochstenbach Says:

    I’m in the same situation. Indeed, our institution output is registered by the researchers themselves. They get funded by the ammount of publications based on quite complex bibliometrics which require a lot of data cleaning by our library staff.

    OAI-PMH is not the problem: you can add that to the ILS; same with upload of data files; adding embargo’s and all that.

    What we lack is a simplified cataloging tool for researchers to use. Adding 10-100 times more inexperienced catalogers (researchers) to the ILS is not an option. This is the reason to transform IR systems into some kind of mini ILS. But IR systems are not suited for these tasks. A danger is indeed that in the end you will build a parallel ILS (if you have the time/money/staff/knowledge to do it).


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