Services for Terminologies

Impression from the Getty

At the beginning of the week, I attended the CCO Advisory Group meeting at the Getty, and I continue to be impressed with the verve of this band of visual resource curators and museum professionals who have written and continue to advance this data content standard. Most of the meeting focused on the question of how to establish a solid training infrastructure for CCO, and the VRA Cataloging Cultural Objects Committee will consider the recommendations of the group at their meeting during the VRA annual conference next week.

A particularly interesting sideline-discussion during our meeting concerned terminologies. Various members of the group felt that authorities/thesauri needed to be available as a web service to:

  • support more efficient cataloguing – lower the barrier for the use of controlled terms in local cataloging tools (the existing OCLC Terminologies Service takes a stab at that)
  • provide better retrieval in local resources – a service could improve access, for example by exploding the user’s query terms to the alternative terms found in name authorities and thesauri
  • provide better retrieval in aggregate resources – once records are in a shared environment, the stakes for resolving data content issues are even higher; otherwise, the same idea as the bullet above

I agree with Lorcan that terminologies is an area where museum, library and archive interests show a strong convergence.

Each community has an interest in establishing agreed ways of noting names, places and things, and has a variety of practices to support it. This seems like a fertile area for investigation of shared attention across communities.

I’m particularly interested in how this “shared attention” would affect cataloging practices in the realm of the unique & rare across libraries, archives and museums. A cross-community and service-oriented approach has the promise to achieve economies where they’re most difficult to eke out.

One Comment on “Services for Terminologies”

  1. Yes yes and thrice yes! It’s amazing that they aren’t all aready available as web services, in a way, but once that starts to happen then, as you (collectively) say, we can make progress on the retrieval side – developers like me can do useful stuff on websites – and on the collections management systems side – hopefully vendors would enable you to plug in your favoured thesauri direct from the source. I see no downsides, really, at least as long as developers ensure that they have a strategy to cope with any downtime/disruption to the network.

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