RLG Programs 2008 Annual Partners Meeting
Renovating Description and Practices
Breakout Session Summary

June 2-3, 2008

Background Provided in Advance of Meeting

The goal of this part of the work agenda is to engage the RLG partnership in adapting descriptive practices to economic realities, user expectations, and requirements of network-level services. The first area of activity are studies to inform changes to metadata creation processes which started with the 2007 RLG Programs Descriptive Metadata Practices Survey Results (.pdf: 99K/13 pp.) and proceeds with an RLG partner working group that is gathering evidence to inform changes needed in metadata practices. The second set of activities focus on identifying tools and services to support efficient metadata processes, begun with the RLG Programs Metadata Tools Forum held on May 8, 2008 and the prototyping of a publisher names server that maps variant publisher names to a preferred form and compiles information regarding relationships among publishers. The third set of activities seek to leverage vocabularies for effective discovery in the networked environment, with RLG partners advising on use case scenarios and priorities for bringing together information about creators now hidden within library, archival, and museum contexts using a social networking model. The work leverages the promising work demonstrated by WorldCat Identities and the Virtual International Authority File. These efforts will help research institutions set new expectations for investing in metadata creation and maintenance, model attendant workflows, and facilitate the discovery of their resources by users wherever they are.

Brief Summary of Breakout Discussion

The Renovating Description and Practices breakout group came to a consensus on the need for metadata to describe the "four pillars" of resources libraries, archives and museums manage for their users: those purchased, licensed, digitized, and archival or special. Metadata needs to flow among diverse environments, and go beyond the isolated "lakes" of individual catalogs or portals to wherever users are. Metadata serves as surrogates to an institution's resources for both end-users, other information professionals, and machine applications. Each of the 25 participants identified a key issue and all mapped to one of the three existing programs in this theme:

  • Change Metadata Creation Processes;
  • Prototype Tools to Support Efficient and Effective Metadata Practices; and
  • Leverage Vocabularies for Effective Discovery.


The group prioritized eight areas for collective action that addressed their key issues:
  • Integrate and share to the network level metadata contributions from curators, subject librarians, experts, users, etc.
  • Manage and expose semantic, hierarchical and granular relationships across all categories of resources.
  • Develop tools for automatic metadata extraction and creation for both describing and administering resources.
  • Share best practices and tools for streamlining metadata creation workflows in and from diverse environments.
  • Capture, manage, and continually enrich metadata, including those from external sources, with as much batch processing as possible.
  • Gather and map terminologies and identities from multiple domains, languages, and scripts that can be linked to local workflows.
  • Use the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records concepts to create work- and expression-level descriptions for use across all resources managed by institutions and thus enable better access to our "collective collection".
  • Develop discovery middleware that can provide better access to resources that use disparate forms of terminologies and identities.

Additional Information

For more information

Karen Smith-Yoshimura

Program Officer

smithyok@oclc.org