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Jeffrey Beall's picture

Scholarly Article Review

Dolski, Alex A. (2009).  “Information Discovery Insights Gained from MultiPAC, a Prototype Library Discovery System.” Information Technology and Libraries, volume 28, number 4, pages 172-180.

I’ve read hundreds of articles like this one that describe new and experimental discovery systems  in libraries, and, while this article fits into that category, it stands out for what it says about metadata quality. The author, a web and digitization application developer at the University of Nevada Las Vegas libraries, really understands the importance of high quality, consistent metadata that conforms to accepted standards.

Here are two selections from the article that discuss metadata:

“Quality metadata—characterized by unified schemas; useful crosswalking; and consistent, thorough description—facilitates finding and gathering. In practice a surrogate record is as important as the resource it describes. Below a certain quality threshold, its accompanying resource may never be found, in which case it may as well not exist.” (page 178)

“The results from the MultiPAC project suggest that metadata rules should be applied strictly and comprehensively according to library-wide standards that, at our libraries, have yet to be enacted. Surrogate records must be treated as must-have (rather than nice-to-have) features of all resources.  Resources that are not yet described in a system that supports searchable surrogate records should be transitioned to one that does … ” (page 179)

 It’s refreshing to read a discussion of the importance of metadata quality, and in this case, it’s especially refreshing because the author is someone from the technology side of library operations, as opposed to a metadata specialist. I hope that information discovery system designers will  come to appreciate the  value that metadata adds to quality information management and discovery as this author has.