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Focus on Metadata: Understanding the Semantic Web: Bibliographic Data and Metadata

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on January 19, 2010 - 12:27pm

Today, we face a significant time of change that is being prompted by today’s library user. This user no longer visits the physical library as his primary source of information, but seeks and creates information while connected to the global computer network. The change that libraries will need to make in response must include the transformation of the library’s public catalog from a stand-alone database of bibliographic records to a highly hyperlinked data set that can interact with information resources on the World Wide Web. The library data can then be integrated into the virtual working spaces of the users served by the library.

--Karen Coyle

In the January 2010 issue of Library Technology Reports, Karen Coyle breaks down the current state library data, and lays out a foundation for transforming data and the modern library catalog to a more modern, interactive, web-oriented entity that fits a world where physical space is no longer the highest priority in library service.

In this report, the first in a series of two, Karen begins by exploring the history of data and the catalog from its origins, tracing it all the way up to the modern world of digital records. She expains, in detail, the concept of Metadata, in terms of both its use up to the present time and its potential for the future.

She argues that library data must be transformed from being a textual entity to one based on machine readability and web compatibility. She offers a practical guidelines for this transformation, asserting that while it would neccesitate a revolution of sorts, we are not as far away from a semantic web-friendly catalog as it seems.

You can read the introductory chapter of this report and purchase it digitally through our website. Karen Coyle will be following up on this issue in the February LTR, titled RDA Vocabularies for a Twenty-First-Century Data Environment. You can read an excerpt from that issue on this blog.

About Karen Coyle

Karen Coyle is a librarian and a consultant in the area of digital libraries. She worked for over 20 years at the University of California in the California Digital Library, has served on library and information standards committees, and had written frequently on technical topics ranging from metadata development, technology management and system design, and on policy area such as copyright and privacy.