Information Resource Description

Nov 2012 | 288pp

Price: £59.95
CILIP members price: £47.95

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Information Resource Description
Creating and managing metadata

Philip Hider

An overview of the field of information organization that examines resource description as both a product and process of the contemporary digital environment.
This timely book employs the unifying mechanism of the semantic web and the resource description framework to integrate the various traditions and practices of information and knowledge organization. Uniquely, it covers both the domain-specific traditions and practices and the practices of the ‘metadata movement’ through a single lens – that of resource description in the broadest, semantic web sense.
This approach more readily accommodates coverage of the new Resource Description and Access (RDA) standard, which aims to move library cataloguing into the centre of the semantic web. The work surrounding RDA looks set to revolutionise the field of information organization, and this book will bring both the standard and its model and concepts into focus.
Key topics include:
  • information resource attributes
  • metadata for information retrieval
  • metadata sources and quality
  • economics and management of metadata
  • knowledge organization systems
  • the semantic web
  • books and e-books, websites and audiovisual resources
  • business and government documents
  • learning resources
  • the field of information/knowledge organization.  
Readership: LIS students taking information organization courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, information professionals wishing to specialise in the metadata area, and existing metadata specialists who wish to update their knowledge.

1. Definitions and scope 
  • Information resources
  • Resource description
  • Metadata 
  • Elements, values, format and transmission
  • Managing metadata 
  • The contemporary information environment
  • Information organization
  • Overview of this book 
  • References   
2. Information resource attributes
  • Introduction
  • Describer and user contexts 
  • Information resource contexts 
  • The functions of metadata
  • From attributes to elements
  • References   
3. Tools and systems 
  • Introduction
  • Arrangements
  • Indexes and databases 
  • Bibliographic databases
  • Library catalogues 
  • Periodical databases
  • Federated search systems 
  • Archival finding aids 
  • Museum registers 
  • Digital collections
  • Search engines
  • Online directories
  • Bibliographies
  • Citation databases
  • References   
4. Metadata sources 
  • Introduction
  • Resource creators 
  • Publishers 
  • Information professionals
  • Library cataloguing
  • Metadata librarianship 
  • Indexing and abstracting
  • Archival description 
  • Museum documentation 
  • Records management 
  • Information architecture 
  • End-users
  • Computers 
  • References   
5. Metadata quality
  • Introduction
  • Functionality
  • Comprehensiveness 
  • Accuracy
  • Clarity
  • Consistency
  • Vocabulary and authority control
  • Principles of best practice
  • Quality assurance
  • Cost-benefit analysis 
  • References   
6. Sharing metadata
  • Introduction
  • Library catalogue records 
  • Metadata for search engines 
  • Interoperability 
  • References   
7. Metadata standards 
  • Introduction
  • Web publishing 
  • Libraries 
  • Digital libraries 
  • Archives
  • Museums 
  • Book publishing 
  • Book indexing 
  • Database indexing 
  • E-research 
  • Education
  • Audiovisual industries
  • Business 
  • Government
  • Registries
  • References   
8. Vocabularies 
  • Introduction
  • Controlled subject vocabularies 
  • Subject headings 
  • Subject thesauri
  • Subject classification schemes 
  • Taxonomies and ontologies
  • Non-subject vocabularies
  • Vocabulary mapping
  • Identification systems 
  • References   
9. The future of metadata 
  • Introduction
  • Three approaches
  • Content-based information retrieval
  • Social metadata
  • Professional description
  • Conclusion 
  • References   
Further reading 
Metatadata standards 

"...an excellent introduction both for students and for practitioners new to the field, and the very readable text is well supported by numerous examples, and lists of additional reading. A welcome addition to the literature in this field."
- Vanda Broughton, University College London


"Metadata is a topic of great, and continuing importance in all the information sciences and collection disciplines. But it is one in which students and practitioners alike can become lost in details and specifics. Philip Hider’s book takes a uniquely wide and integrative approach, combining basic principles and well-chosen examples to give an admirably clear insight into the subject."
- David Bawden, City University London

"Hider offers a clear and comprehensive look at metadata and all its many aspects—from its creation, to its many forms and uses, and even its future. This is a very readable text that any student or information professional will find useful and engaging."
- Shawne D Miksa, University of North Texas

"This book promises to be a key resource in the field of information organisation. It takes a broad approach to information resource description without sacrificing the detailed description and explanation that students and practitioners will seek. Dr Hider demonstrates an enviable level of scholarly and professional knowledge and a capacity to structure and communicate it elegantly and with passion."
- Stuart Ferguson, University of Canberra

"For those newly minted librarians whose graduate school no longer teaches cataloguing, for established librarians switching gears in mid-career from reference to technical services or for faculty who need to teach description, this book is an invaluable introductory resource."
- Collection Building

"Hider explains clearly the wide range of metadata that exists, and helps the reader further by guiding through the book with cross-references and direction. We know there is “more on this to come in the next chapter” or if we missed a detail, we can go back and locate it in context. This is useful for those learning the subject, as well as the more expert reader. Hider does an impressive job tying together so many different aspects of metadata and providing the “big picture”, and the book is highly accessible and engaging."
- Library Management

"…provides a clear multifaceted survey of the metadata landscape, which usefully relates complex standards and practices to difficult and demanding tasks. Readers seeking a better understanding of the broad reach of metadata in the contemporary environment will be well served."
- Technicalities

Philip Hider is Head of the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University, Australia. He has worked, taught and researched in the field of information organization in the UK, Singapore and Australia. He holds a PhD from City University, London and was made a Fellow of CILIP in 2004.

1. Definitions and scope 
This chapter defines the book’s scope and aims, and introduces key concepts that will be discussed at much greater length in the following chapters. The book’s title and subtitle are explained first, and then how information resource description fits into the modern information environment. This is followed by an outline of the field of information organization and an overview of the book’s structure.
2. Information resource attributes
The previous chapter talked of metadata elements, the building blocks of information resource description. Each element describes an aspect, or attribute, of the information resource. Its title, author, subject, size, publication date and so on – all are attributes that could be described if applicable to a particular resource. As was mentioned, there are countless ways in which one could look at, and therefore describe, an information resource. Clearly, some attributes are more relevant in the provision of information access than are others. This chapter discusses which attributes are likely to be more important, and why.
3. Tools and systems 
The previous chapter talked about how the various attributes of information resources might be of interest to users, and are thus described as metadata for use in information retrieval systems. These systems bring together metadata for multiple resources and help the user to negotiate the
information universe and gain access to what they need. While some information retrieval systems are based on the content of information resources, this chapter looks at those based on metadata, and which are central to the field of information organization.
4. Metadata sources
Information retrieval systems can use metadata only if it is available. People or computers first have to create it. Some metadata is created along with the resources it describes; other metadata is created after the resources have been created and disseminated, by intermediaries or even by the end-users themselves. An information resource description may include metadata from several different sources, directly or indirectly. This chapter looks at the various kinds of metadata creator, and their motives.
5. Metadata quality
This chapter discusses what makes for effective metadata, as not all metadata fulfils its purpose equally well. There are several aspects to metadata quality, all of which the metadata specialist, in particular, needs to bear in mind. The chapter also looks at mechanisms for improving the quality of metadata, such as vocabulary control, and for assuring quality, and end our discussion by considering the costs that effective metadata incurs.
6. Sharing metadata
This chapter focuses on the sharing of metadata amongst systems. In the online environment, this entails not only the standardization of the metadata itself, but also of its transmission. The chapter looks at some of the mechanisms and arrangements that enable systems to share metadata. These may involve a two-way exchange or a one-way transfer of resource description. Both the benefit and the cost of quality metadata have spurred many information agencies into collaborative action, with, as we shall see, some impressive results.
7. Metadata standards 
Standards have been developed for all aspects of metadata, including its values, elements, format and transmission. Many standards cover more than one of these aspects. This chapter looks at key standards pertaining to elements, format and transmission.
8. Vocabularies 
This chapter looks at the standardization of metadata values. Prescribed sets of values are often referred to as vocabularies. They may be used for indexing, for display or both. Many vocabularies are designed to cover a particular knowledge domain, and to describe the subject of information resources. Sometimes, they are called knowledge organization systems. Zeng and Chan (2003, 377) define such systems as ‘tools that present the organized interpretation of knowledge structures’. However, vocabularies have also been developed for other elements, apart from subject.
9. The future of metadata 
It is clear that people will use metadata to find, identify, select and obtain information resources, and to navigate collections of information resources, for a long time to come. When we consider the future of metadata, then, the question is not whether there is a future, but what that future might look like. There are several aspects to this question, associated with aspects of the metadata that were discussed in the preceding chapters. To what extent will metadata be used in future information retrieval systems, given the rise of content-based retrieval? What kind of metadata will be needed in future information environments? Who will be creating and managing this metadata? What value will we place on it? How will metadata be shared across systems? Will metadata become more, or less, standardized? All these questions are interrelated, of course, and can be answered only by considering the future of the information environment as a whole.

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