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January 26, 2011

Metadata guidelines for the UK Resource Discovery Taskforce

We (Pete and I) have been asked by the JISC and RLUK to develop some metadata guidelines for use by the UK Resource Discovery Taskforce as it rolls out its vision [PDF].

This turns out to be a non-trivial task. The vision covers libraries, museums and archives and is intended to:

focus on defining the requirements for the provision of a shared UK infrastructure for libraries, archives, museums and related resources to support education and research. The focus will be on catalogues/metadata that can assist in access to objects/resources. With a special reference to serials, books, archives/special collections, museum collections, digital repository content and other born digital content. This will interpret the shared UK infrastructure as part of global information provision.

(Taken from the Resource Discovery Taskforce Term of Reference)

The vision itself talks of a "collaborative, aggregated and integrated resource discovery and delivery framework" which implies an approach based on harvesting metadata (and other content) rather than cross-searching.

If the last 15 years or so have taught me anything, it's not to expect much coming together of metadata practice across those three sectors! Add to that a wide spectrum of attitudes to Linked Data and its potential value in this space, an unclear picture about the success of Europeana and its ESE [PDF] and EDM [PDF] metadata formats, the apparent success of somewhat "permissive" metadata-based initiatives such as Digital NZ and you are left with a a range of viewpoints from "Keep calm and carry on" thru to "Throw it all away and use Linked Data" and everything in between.

At this point in time, we are taking the view that Tim Berners-Lee's star rating system for linked open data provides a useful framework for this work. However, as I have indicated elsewhere, Mugging up on the linked open data star ratings, it is rather unhelpful that the definition of each of the stars seems to be somewhat up for grabs at the moment (more or less in line with the ongoing, and quite probably endless, debate about the centrality of RDF and SPARQL to Linked Data). On that basis, we will almost certainly have to provide our own definitions for the purposes of these guidelines. Note that using this star rating system does not mean that everything has to use RDF.

Anyway... all of that is currently our problem, so I won't burden you with it :-)

The real purpose of this post is simply to say that we hope to make a draft of our metadata guidelines available during next week (I'm not willing to commit to a specific day at this point in time!), at which point we hope that people will share their thoughts on what we've come up with. That said, time is reasonably tight so I don't expect to be able to give people more than a couple of weeks (at most) to comment.

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Comments

Hi Andy,
I am interested to look at your basic guideline.
Keep me posted!
- Maurice @SURFfoundation

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