Curves ahead a sunday driver s tour of metadata metasearch and open linking
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Curves Ahead! A Sunday Driver’s Tour of Metadata, Metasearch, and Open Linking. Karen Calhoun Cornell University Library Prepared for the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Retreat March 18, 2005. Four Easy Lessons. Why you should care about metadata What metadata is

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Curves Ahead! A Sunday Driver’s Tour of Metadata, Metasearch, and Open Linking

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Curves Ahead! A Sunday Driver’s Tour of Metadata, Metasearch, and Open Linking

Karen Calhoun

Cornell University Library

Prepared for the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Retreat

March 18, 2005

Four Easy Lessons

  • Why you should care about metadata

  • What metadata is

  • Where metadata comes from and how it’s shared

  • Metadata and information discovery systems

Calhoun, Cornell University Library

1.Why You Should Care:

Strategic Decisions and Actions

A Strategy for Libraries

  • Internal and external pressures

    • External: library user communities have many choices for discovering the info they need

    • Internal: lost opportunities because library staff skill sets lag behind

  • Mandate: Carry forward the library’s role to organize the world’s information

    • Apply this role in the digital age

    • Embrace metadata as a sustainable strategic advantage (the one with the best metadata, wins)

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Benefits of Metadata

  • Overcomes chaos and infoglut (makes stuff easier to find and manage)

  • Saves time

  • Lowers costs

  • Complements what search engines, lists and directories do

  • Can be shared, reused, and redistributed

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2. What Metadata Is

  • Definitions

  • Evolution: Before and After the Web (B.W. and A.W.)

  • Thematic charts of metadata types and functions

  • Recognizing metadata when you see it

  • Examples: metadata record displays

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  • “Data about data” (what?)

  • ALA CC:DA studied 46 definitions!

  • “Structured, encoded data that describe characteristics of information-bearing entities…”

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A Functional Definition*

  • Helps you find and/or manage information

  • Serves particular purposes

  • Can be used by people or by machines

  • Often has structure and/or content rules

  • Can be created by people or by machines

*With thanks to Tom Turner, former Metadata Librarian,

Mann Library, Cornell University

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For finding and managing library materials (mostly print)

Catalog records (AACR and MARC)

Shared cooperative cataloging systems

Usually handcrafted, one at a time

Highly structured and content-rich



For finding and managing many types of materials, for many user communities

Many types of records

Many metadata repositories (most not shared or sharable)

Sometimes handcrafted, sometimes machine-made, sometimes both

Varied structure and content

Can be less or more expensive than library cataloging

Evolution: Metadata B.W. and A.W.

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MARC, Dublin

Core, TEI


Describes or

identifies info




using info






Recognizing Metadata When You See It (and When You Don’t)

  • Embedded in HTML document

  • Database records

  • Many ways to display metadata records

  • Examples

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3. Where Metadata Comes From and Where It Can Go

  • Metadata projects

  • Creation and tools

  • Mapping and crosswalks

  • Interoperability

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Who will be using the digital collection, and how?

How large is the digital project? What software and hardware will you use?

What is the role of metadata in the project, and at what point will it be created? What is the workflow?

What is the desired scope and depth of the metadata records?

Who will be creating the metadata, and how? Is there existing metadata?

Is staffing adequate? Can you afford the metadata you want?

What standards will you use or adapt?

Who needs to be involved in decision-making?

How will this metadata be integrated into the library’s other collections, databases or catalogs?

Metadata projects: a checklist of questions to consider

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Metadata creation and tools

  • Manual

  • Using templates

    • DC-dot (

  • Re-using existing metadata

    • Cornell “sleek” records

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Manual Metadata

Creation -1-

What do we know about this image?

Bowdoin College baseball team, c. 1896

MMN item number 12388

Brunswick, Cumberland County, Maine

Photographic print

25 x 34 cm

Contributed by Maine Historical Society

Digitized by Maine Memory Network

Manual Metadata

Creation -2-

What do we know about this image?

Hedge Laboratory – Bates College

Photograph taken circa 1900

MMN item number 7394

Lewiston, Androscoggin County, Maine

Photo transparency

2.25 x 3.5 cm

Contributed by Lewiston Public Library

From Gridley Barrows Collection

Digitized by Maine Memory Network

Manual Metadata Creation: Sample questions to discuss

  • What kind of metadata content do you want to be searchable in your system?

  • What is your policy regarding the form of corporate names?

  • What is your policy regarding the formatting of dates?

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Automated Generation of Metadata / Reuse of Metadata

Automated Generation of Metadata: A “Sleek” Catalog Record

Mapping and Crosswalks

  • Basis for sharing, reusing, redistributing metadata

  • Basis for integrating multiple metadata types for federated searching (simultaneous searching of multiple collections)

  • Example of a crosswalk: MARC to Dublin Core (

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  • Defined by CC:DA as:

    • “The ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and use the exchanged information without special effort on either system.”

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4. Metadata and Information Discovery Systems

  • Key problems and issues

  • Next generation library systems

    • ENCompass (Endeavor)

    • MetaLib (Ex Libris)

    • Others

  • Metasearching and open linking under the hood

  • Metadata’s role

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Key Problems and Needs


    • Countless information resources, little time

    • Searchers on their own to be aware of collections, know how to link, know how to search


    • Learn what collections are available

    • Learn which collections are relevant to their needs

    • Find the particular parts of collections that meet their needs

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A Next Generation Library System

  • Manages metadata diversity

  • Integrates heterogeneous metadata types for searching

  • Provides federated searching of local and remote collections

  • Open linking: Provides seamless linking among related information objects (e.g., a citation and the full text of the article)

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21st Century Cataloging

Libraries need to combine robust shared cataloging systems with new forms of metadata and with tying multiple forms of metadata into a single system.

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Federated Searching (Metasearch) Under the Hood

  • Web client displays!

  • Metadata “lingua franca”

  • Metadata mappings

  • Descriptive metadata definitions

  • XML data

  • Dinner is served!

  • Mixing bowls, cooking, and serving dishes

  • Recipes

  • Characteristics of ingredients and how they are packaged

  • Raw ingredients

Open Linking & Link Resolvers

Full Text

Open linking introduces a “resolver”

into the linking process









OpenURL standardizes

this part of the



Metadata’s Role

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse


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Your Turn to Work

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