That was the topic discussed recently by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers, initiated by Roxanne Missingham of Australian National University, John Riemer of University of California, Los Angeles, and Melanie Wacker of Columbia University. All metadata managers at Research Library Partner institutions currently rely on OCLC services and applications developed by OCLC Research. Metadata managers discussed what is working well in their current operations and shared ideas for short-term and long-term goals. In particular, metadata managers were encouraged to share their thoughts on how they envision the OCLC Research Library Partnership in the future.
Most reported that they use (or were interested in) OCLC Research’s FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) and VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) applications, but not everyone knew about all OCLC Research applications. Metadata managers pointed to conflicting priorities in their desires for future OCLC Research goals: expediting their daily operations vs. being the “change agent” to lead the way to the needs of future metadata management, such as linked data. Some of the OCLC Research activities and initiatives in this area that Partners valued include:
- Linked Data Wikibase Prototype (and the invitation for them to participate in it)
- Collaborating with OCLC Research Library Partners Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Yale on the “Next Steps for FAST” survey, as documented in Summary of Results, Conclusions, and Next Steps (2018)
- Collaborating with OCLC Research Library Partners on identifiers, such as Convenience and Compliance: Case Studies on Persistent Identifiers in European Research Information Management (2017) and Addressing the Challenges with Organizational Identifiers and ISNI (2016)
- Webinars that focus on what metadata specialists could do in their daily work to make the transition easier, such as How You Can Make the Transition from MARC to Linked Data Easier (2015)
- Jean Godby’s collaboration with the Library of Congress on linked data models in Common Ground: Exploring Compatibilities between the Linked Data Models of the Library of Congress and OCLC (2015)
Metadata managers noted that metadata cleanup is a prerequisite to identifying entities. This dependency blurs the lines between OCLC services and OCLC Research. A theme of the discussions was the call for closer collaboration between OCLC Research, OCLC products and services, and the OCLC Research Library Partnership. Staff from OCLC services contributed to these discussions, and noted that OCLC Research staff are working closely with product managers to move FAST and VIAF into production. Metadata managers also would like to see OCLC Work Identifiers moved into production. The new 758 MARC field recently approved, defined as a Resource Identifier in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, should help with sharing URIs for works represented in WorldCat once the requirements for the field are specified.
The aspects of their institutions’ affiliation with the OCLC Research Library Partnership that metadata managers found most beneficial included:
- Facilitated information exchanges with their peers
- Participation in working groups
- Works in Progress webinars showcasing developments at other OCLC Research Library Partner institutions
- Participation in the SHARES program, the resource sharing arm of the OCLC Research Library Partnership
- Access to OCLC Research staff for consultation
- Invitations to participate in pilot projects
- Introducing innovative approaches to common issues. “It’s more effective to do research collaboratively than if we do it on our own.”
- OCLC Research reports on trends in the field, especially when the reports include recommendations that could be implemented locally.
For future areas of work, metadata managers wanted more “practical applications.” Suggestions included:
- Offering consultants and practical follow up steps that help with prototyping tools that can take advantage of shared experimentation.
- Moving OCLC Work Identifiers into production.
- More and closer coordination with other groups, such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging and the Linked Data for Production partners
- Guidance on working in a hybrid MARC-linked data environment
- A linked data “sand box” where Partners could experiment with others
- Entity reconciliation and tools for identity management
- More, better APIs
- Increasing visibility of primary sources
This feedback will help guide future activities.
Karen Smith-Yoshimura, senior program officer, topics related to creating and managing metadata with a focus on large research libraries and multilingual requirements. Karen retired from OCLC November 2020.