Back in early June, Mike Shatzkin posted “Metadata is the new most important thing to know about”. This post puts into perspective the need to become familiar with metadata as well as why quality metadata is so important. Is it possible to define quality metadata? Is it having a large array of information about the item being described? Or is it a select bit of information that evolves as the item being describes comes to have a place in the time and space of a society and culture? I don’t pretend to know the answers to these questions. The blogosphere is ripe with various opinions on the importance of metadata and how to achieve good metadata. Think of Karen Coyle or Diane Hillmann’s blogs on metadata.
Another excellent source to become familiar with the metadata ecology is a recent post from Jenn Riley called “Seeing Standards”. Jenn presents a comprehensive pictorial representation of metadata (encoding and schemas) and content standards. Just a heads up – Jenn is in the process of correcting some mistakes with the visualization. An updated version will be posted when she’s finished. Along with the ability to see the standards, there is also a glossary -a definite must read for anyone looking to become familiar with metadata.
It is interesting that metadata that has a place in the time and space of a society or culture – akin to an artifact – means that preserving this metadata has become increasingly crucial. Another question akin to this, is how do we preserve the digital object? Returning to metadata… Devan Ray Donaldson and Paul Conway wrote “Implementing PREMIS: a case study of the Florida Digital Archive” about how metadata preservation works using PREMIS. This article appears in Library HiTech vol. 28 issue 2, ISSN: 0737-8831. This is a timely article. It it crucial to know metadata as Mike points out, in particular how publishers are using it, and what it means to create quality metadata. Especially important is the preservation of this metadata and how to implement this preservation. Donaldson and Conway are correct in saying that not much research has been published on this topic. It is also unclear how publishers approach preservation or whether preservation is a topic of concern for publishers.