Applying Agile Practices to Metadata Workflows: Data and People in Transition

When:  Jun 26, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (CT)


Dates: Monday, June 26 @ 8:30 AM-10:00 AM

Conference Venue: McCormick Place: MCP W190a

Session title: 

Applying Agile Practices to Metadata Workflows: Data and People in Transition




Research activities are heavily dependent upon content found on the web. Moreover, the web is moving rapidly from the document-based web to the semantic web where anyone can say anything about any topic (the AAA slogan).


The Semantic Web is a jungle where data are rich and massive, interconnected without roadmaps, index, or guidance. What it has is a series of tools and languages that are making their way into libraries' working spaces. Ontologies, linked data, RDF, data modeling, metadata, identity management, etc., have been morphed into common vocabularies for information services. Our cataloging and metadata community embraced the RDF language as a potential replacement for MARC as the current encoding standard. Cataloging professionals have begun preparing the alignment of libraries' very siloed MARC data to linked open data. While many of us still consider the semantic web that moves library data toward linked data as a daunting revolution for the profession, others remain skeptical of its potential and usefulness.


In adjusting to the challenges of transitioning library data toward linked data, library technical services managers have been looking for practices that will enable them to create robust and responsive services in order to deliver more returns. Some have found the trend in software development industry of applying agile principles for deliverables very applicable and attractive for managing library projects. Its acceptance is gaining momentum in libraries beyond their IT departments. How will the team-based approach help transitioning workflows that involve library data and library staff who need reassurances about their talents and contributions? In an effort to offer new ways of thinking about how metadata and cataloging work is accomplished, this session will look at both an implementation of a linked data-based workflow and a separate environment that utilizes agile project management to deliver results.



Lisa Lorenzo
Metadata Librarian
Michigan State University

Kate Harcourt
Director, Original and Special Materials Cataloging
Columbia University Libraries

Melanie Wacker, @mwacker3
Metadata Coordinator
Columbia University Libraries


Speaker Bios & Abstracts:

Agile and Scrum in the Michigan State University Libraries Digital Repository

Lisa Bio:

Lisa Lorenzo is a metadata librarian at Michigan State University Libraries working primarily with the library’s digital repository metadata. She is a member of an Agile development team working to improve and expand the MSUL digital repository and is responsible for transforming metadata from various sources and formats into standards-compliant MODS and Dublin Core to facilitate searching within the repository and metadata reuse in other systems, such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Lisa’s recent projects undertaken with her colleagues on the development team include normalizing MODS records across all collections in the repository, updating and implementing local metadata guidelines documentation, and dynamically generating JSON-LD metadata as part of an experimental search engine optimization initiative. She also has a quarter-time appointment as a reference librarian and participates in national and regional professional organizations.



In 2014, Michigan State University Libraries (MSUL) launched its online digital repository, a Fedora Commons repository with an Islandora front end. As the repository’s development team (RepoTeam) grew and more collections were slated for ingestion into the site, the need for a structured project management approach became apparent. In 2016, Scrum, an Agile project management framework, was adopted. RepoTeam’s use of the Scrum framework has evolved as its members have changed and the digital repository has expanded to include more collections. This presentation will outline the Scrum-based Agile framework used in the development of the MSUL digital repository with particular attention to how this process has improved metadata creation and maintenance. It will also provide a discussion on the challenges and limitations of adapting a project management style designed for a corporate software development setting to a library environment.



Applying Agile Practices to Metadata Workflows: People in Transition

Kate Bio:

Kate Harcourt is the Director of Original And Special Materials Processing at Columbia University Libraries and Information Services. The Division consists of 9 librarians and  6 support staff. She manages original cataloging including rare books, digital metadata and special formats such as Music and Serials.  The Division is the home for projects and new initiatives such as web archiving and she has been active in Mellon and CLIR grants including  2CUL and LD4P (Linked Data for Production).  Kate has been Columbia’s PCC BIBCO representative since 1997 and is the outgoing Chair of the PCC.  During her tenure as Chair, several key committees were formed in response to the PCC Vision, Mission and Strategic Directions to move the community forward in linked data and identities management. She has published papers in Library Resources and Technical Services and Collaborative Librarianship.

This presentation will address ways in which managers can use agile practices developed for software development to empower staff and create a workplace culture that encourages collaboration and experimentation.  


Managing Ongoing Change in Columbia's Metadata Workflows

Melanie Bio:

Melanie Wacker is Metadata Coordinator at Columbia University Libraries and Information Services. She works with colleagues across the organization to ensure the integration of digital metadata with local and national systems to enable information discovery. Her responsibilities include development of application profiles for digital collections, metadata creation, training, consultations, and NACO/SACO work. Melanie is currently the Columbia lead for her institution’s LD4P (Linked Data for Production) project participation. She is active in several national and international committees and task forces and has published papers in Library Resources and Technical Services, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Alexandria, and Journal of Library Metadata.

Columbia University Libraries’ non-MARC metadata workflow does not exist in a vacuum. Many outside influences have introduced change in recent years. Faceted discovery interfaces, new cataloging rules (RDA), metadata doing double duty in various systems, more sprint-oriented development approaches and a move towards linked data have played a role. Adapting to ongoing change has become the new normal.

This presentation will explore first the types of changes that have become necessary to our workflow both in response to current developments and in order to produce more linked-data ready metadata for the future and then take a look at the impact that this has had on staff development and responsibilities.


Lisa's and Melanie's sidles and Kate's notes are attached.