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On Saturday, I attended “Workflow Tools for Automating Metadata Creation and Maintenance” which was a panel discussion comprised of individuals who work on digital projects at their institutions.

Much of the talk was highly technical and I didn’t quite understand everything, but one of the most interesting projects discussed was by Brown University’s Ann Caldwell, Metadata Coordinator for the Center of Digital Initiatives, who spoke about their recent project in assisting the Engineering Department with its upcoming accreditation. Engineering professors wanted to digitize materials such as syllabi and assignments so that the accreditation team could have them in advance of their visit. The Center created an easy way for professors to put stuff into the repository by creating a very simple MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema) record form with required fields to fill in (e.g. date, title, genre) and providing an easy way for individuals to upload files (i.e. digital objects). Faculty decide how they want to set up folders for their stuff; they can dump everything in one folder or create multiple folders down to the micro-level. Faculty also determine who and what individuals can see. Because of the enormous amount of material being brought in to be digitized, the Center developed a tracking system. Due to the success of this project, the Engineering Department will continue digitizing their materials for future accreditations, and Ms. Caldwell indicated other departments were interested in doing the same.

In regards to metadata creation workflow, consistency, automation, streamlining and true interoperability between systems are of utmost importance. With the help of metadata tools, librarians can do their jobs better and more efficiently. Smart systems are possible and necessary. We need to pay attention to user interface design for cataloging tools because it is critical to the success of our data.

Next, I attended a four hour panel discussion titled “Look Before You Leap: Taking RDA for a Test-Drive.” Again, a highly technical presentation. RDA is the acronym for “resource description and access” and is a new cataloging tool to be utilized for the description of all types of resources and content. It is compatible with established principles, models, and standards and is adaptable to the needs of a wide range of resource description communities (i.e. museums, libraries, etc.) Tom Delsey began the session by comparing and contrasting AACR2 and RDA. Nanette Naught followed by previewing the RDA Toolkit which is currently in the alpha testing stage. Sally McCallum of the Library of Congress spoke on new fields developed for the MARC record in conjunction with RDA. John Espley, Director of Design at VTLS, gave attendees a preview of what an RDA record would like like in the ILS he represents. His presentation finally shed some light for me as to how an RDA cataloging record would appear in an online catalog. National Library of Medicine’s Barbara Bushman described the upcoming testing of RDA at 23 select institutions. The testing will occur in OCLC Connexion as well as in various ILS. Voyager being one. Once the RDA Online software is released sometime in November or December 2009, a preparation period which includes training for the testing institutions will occur in the months of January-March 2010. Formal testing will commence in April-June, followed in July-September with a formal assessment. October 2010 a final report will be shared with the U.S. library community.

If and when RDA is approved for use, training for catalogers will be the next step. Knowledge and training about RDA for all library staff will need to take place as well. People on the front lines working with patrons in catalog instruction will need to know the differences between a specific work and its possible multiple manifestations (work and manifestation being FRBR terminology).

For more information, one can visit the RDA web site.

Needless to say, after this session ended, I was ready to head back to my hotel for some rest. I will post more information on the rest of my conference experiences on Friday.