Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Metadata to Support Next-Generation Library Resource Discovery: Lessons from the eXtensible Catalog, Phase 1 by Jennifer Bowen

The eXtensible Catalog (XC) Project at the University of Rochester will design and develop a set of open-source applications to provide libraries with an alternative way to reveal their collections to library users. The goals and functional requirements developed for XC reveal generalizable needs for metadata to support a next-generation discovery system. The strategies that the XC Project Team and XC Partner Institutions will use to address these issues can contribute to an agenda for attention and action within the library community to ensure that library metadata will continue to support online resource discovery in the future.

LITA members may read the full text of this article at http://www.ala.org/ala/lita/litapublications/ital/272008/2702jun/bowen.cfm. Discussion of the article will be open from 18 August to 15 September 2008.


Jennifer Bowen said...

Greetings! I’m pleased to have been invited to start off discussion on ITALica with topics related to metadata in next-generation catalogs. As a part of this blog discussion, I’ll provide some brief updates to my ITAL paper that describe our most recent metadata work on the eXtensible Catalog (XC) , which I’ll post in installments over the next couple of weeks.
Today I would simply like to pose a first topic for discussion: working with “born MARC” metadata in a non-MARC environment. What opportunities and challenges can we anticipate as we start working with (e.g. manipulating, searching, augmenting, cleaning up, transforming) MARC metadata from an ILS (or from another MARC-based system) outside of that system?
How can we ensure that reusing MARC data is a worthwhile undertaking, and convince those outside the library world of this, if necessary?

Eric Lease Morgan said...

Because the University of Notre Dame is a Development Parnter in XC, I read the article with a lot of interest, and there are a few things I would like to elaborate upon from the article:

Like many "next-generation" library catalog applications/systems, it proposes to aggregate content from a wide variety of sources, normalize the data into a central store (the "hub"), index the content, and provide access to the central store or index through a number of services. This is how Primo, VUFind, AquaBrowser operate. Many others work in a similar manner; all of these systems have more things in common than differences. Unlike other applications/systems, XC seems to embrace a more transparent and community-driven process.

One of the things that intrigued me most about the article was goal #2. "XC will reveal library metadata not only through its own separate interface.., but will also allow library metadata to be revealed through other Web applications." This definitely the way to go. A big part of librarianship is making data, information, and knowledge widely accessible. Our current systems do this very poorly. XC is moving in the right direction in this regard. Kudos.

Another thing that caught my eye was a requirement for goal #3, "The XC system will capture metadata generated by users from any one of the system's user environments… and harvest it back into the system's metadata services hub for processing." This too sounds like a good idea. People are the real sources of information. Let's figure out ways to harness the knowledge, expertise, and experiences of our users.

What is really nice about XC is the approach they are taking. It is not all about their software and their system. Instead, it is about building on the good work of others and providing direct access to their improvements. "Projects such as the eXtensible Catalog can serve as a vehicle for moving forward by providing an opportunity for libraries to experiment and to then take informed action to move the library community toward a next generation of resource discovery systems."

I wish more librarians would be thinking about their software development processes in the manner of XC.

P.S. Much of this posting is taken directly from posting I wrote elsewhere.

Jennifer Bowen said...

Thanks, Eric. We really appreciate having partners like Notre Dame that have put their faith in our vision to create standards-compliant open source software for the library community. I'm personally looking forward to seeing how other institutions use and build upon XC in ways that we haven't even imagined so far!

Jonathan Rochkind said...

The URL provided is not getting me to the article, I don't think.

Jodi Schneider said...

You're right Jonathan. Here are some links that might help.

ToC is here:

No HTML yet, but PDF of Jennifer’s article (needs LITA/ALA login, which I can never remember)

jrochkind said...

Looks like the paper is available in Rochester's IR, here: