I stumbled yesterday upon a couple of passing mentions in publishing circles of a new-found appreciation for the value of metadata, and the librarians who work with it — Certainly not a new theme, but coming across these two bits on the same day struck me. The first is in Kassia Krozser’s write-up of the recent Tools of Change in Publishing conference:
[Boldface & color added] … Which leads to my final theme: metadata. Metadata is the sexy of publishing conferences. This would embarrass metadata, metadata being the type who prefers to remain in the background. It also reveals too much about publishing conferences. Metadata is useful, efficient, precise. Metadata doesn’t grace the cover of Vogue. It’s the girl next door. The really smart girl next door. The really smart, really successful girl next door.
Metadata is data that describes data. That’s meta, I know. It is the information that feeds search. Enables discovery. The better your metadata, the better your chances of discovery. Consider your book’s metadata: title, ISBN, author, editor, year of publication, format, index, table of contents, keywords, tags, reviews, so much more. The more you can describe your (collective your) book, the greater the chances of discovery.
And, oh my, ask anyone who uses your metadata, and they’ll say it’s bad. Ask me, and I’ll be a bit more eloquent. My solution? Hire a librarian for your digital (and print — metadata matters there) team. Use this librarian’s knowledge. Speaking of which, these awesome experts were out in force at TOC.
The second mention is Hannah Johnson’s article in the Publishing Perspectives blog last month, with this concluding paragraph:
So even though metadata has a less-than-cool reputation (think solitary librarians checking ISBN numbers in their card catalogues), digitization is making it very cool.
Although a couple of comments on this article by library people express displeasure with the “solitary librarians” theme, I certainly see this as a positive appreciation by publishers of the new role of metadata and librarians, especially in light of Kassia Krozser’s laudatory sentiments above.
The kind words here from publishers about metadata and librarians continue a thread that’s been developing for a while — I’ve blogged before about how digital publishing, especially, is bringing librarians and publishers together — See my post on this, in which I discuss an article (with a cute cover picture) in Library Journal. Also see also my article on the growing importance of metadata for publishers, as discussed eloquently by Dominique Raccah.
Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey