Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic ‘Cataloguing to metadata’ event at Oxford. It was hosted by the Bodleian Libraries and organised by their cataloguing team and staff development folk. I started out as a trainee at Oxford, (also thanks again to staff development there for that!) so felt personally happy to be back and catch up with one or two familiar faces.
As I tweeted, by the afternoon I was simply blown away by the sheer scale of things being worked on at Oxford, specifically:
- The Bodleian Digital Asset Management System – an overview by Neil Jeffreries highlighted the vast efforts being made in Oxford. They aim to cover many different use cases – no single piece application, tool or standard in the stack deemed un-replaceable, ‘todays standards are tomorrows’ legacy’
- Oxford are committed to re-use of data. We saw some great insights into having their material covered by Europeana from Alexander Huber, Metadata Co-ordinator
- Parallel Developments in Bio-Sciences. Professor Anne Trefethen, Director, Oxford e-Research Centre covered some of the challenges of amalgamating various different experts groups metadata standards into a set of workable methods for reproducing experiments. This also highlighted the dangers of practitioners assembling standards in isolation, a message to be heeded by those looking at future library standards
- Discussions in an open session at the end around metadata standards were pleasingly pragmatic, especially in the advent of the Library of Congress’s shift from Marc21. They were focused around the understanding that one size will never fit all and only a core of metadata is common to all use cases in scholarly communication. This was referred to as ‘Basic epistemology’ – knowledge for its own sake being the best common denominator
- I also found this concept to be usefully compatible with the philosophy behind the Open Bibliography Principles, specifically that basic factual knowledge regarding a work should be universally accepted as open. Later in the week, I also attended a great event aimed at cultural institutions hosted by the OKFN at the Wellcome Trust. I heard more about Europeana and their efforts to get a core subset of their metadata out under CC0. Again, pragmatism rules, and there are practical workarounds that be used to get workable quality usable data shared openly
At the Oxford event, I also gave a somewhat tangential look at library catalogue evolution, recent work in Cambridge and how a move towards greater sharing of data can perhaps be seen as part of the changes we in libraries are going through to better address the needs of ‘Generation Y’.
I attempted to talk about RDF and how it may be useful to libraries, but think this section fell a bit short. Thankfully, this by Dorothea Salo arrived in my Twitter feed the next day, so if you heard me waffle on and really want to know about how it *could* be a useful standard for some use cases in the future, do take a look …