This article gives an interesting perspective on how experienced catalogers and cataloging techniques are being applied to the creation of metadata for digital collections. This is being done in three main categories: through quality control, authority control, and creative cataloging. Quality control is an obvious but important issue in metadata today, especially as many metadata systems currently used were not originally developed with library use in mind. Combined with rushed work and undertrained staff, this can often lead to poor quality metadata. Experienced catalogers, who are used to these kind of problems, can apply their ingrained attention to completeness, accuracy, and consistency to help address these problems. This experience is also an important part of helping bring authority control to metadata – catalogers have been working with authority files for many years, and are familiar with using and creating reliable authority standards (such as the Library of Congress’s). Finally, catalogers help create quality metadata through creative cataloging. The article defines this as the process of creating useful content in the “gray areas” where cataloging rules don’t have explicit instructions. This skill is important for metadata for digital collections, as they often deal with unique items which require special handling and information. Catalogers can bring their experience to bear in this way by collaborating with subject specialists and putting extra research into topics to create the best possible records for users.
This article showed how the skills and knowledge catalogers have accumulated over the decades can be helpfully translated into creating quality metadata. (As I want to work in cataloging/metadata, this is an encouraging demonstration.)
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