Metadata Standards and Web Services in Libraries, Archives and Museums

Metadata Standards and web services in libraries, archives and museumsThe worksheets and sample coursepacket linked to on this page are intended to serve as companion materials to the book Metadata Standards and Web Services in Libraries, Archives and Museums.

The text, the active learning worksheets and the course design grew from many iterations of information organization and information technology courses. Many thanks to the colleagues and students at the University of Maryland for your input and feedback.

The following suggested course packet and worksheets are structured around a semester-based weekly course program. Each worksheet contains suggested readings and hands-on activities intended to provide practical experience to reinforce technical and theoretical content in the book and other suggested course readings. Each worksheet includes an answer key.


Class 1:  Information infrastructures and institutions

Introduce the structure for the semester grounded in a broad orientation to how information institutions work. Explore definitions and examples of information institutions including libraries, archives, schools and museums LASM. Explore the roles that these institutions play in society (e.g. memory, community, education, commerce).

Class 2:  Information systems as boundary objects

Expand on the organizational orientation from class 1 and discuss social and cultural roles of LASM institutions. Explore concrete examples of information, cultural heritage and memory institutions and define concepts and ideas to give students a holistic understanding of “information infrastructure” field. Introduce course model (e.g. Metadata >> System >> User) and explore connections with other core courses. Explore theoretical foundation of the process of representation.

Class 3:  Acquiring and managing resources

Explore resource acquisition and management work in LASM institutions. Introduce technical service disciplines and illustrate connections with other functional areas in information institutions by reinforcing role of core courses. For each LASM institution type explore the notion of resource operations in light of changing information institution models. At the end of the class students will understand the role of each of the activities in LASM institutions 1) Publication models (formal, in-formal), 2) Acquisition of materials (published, manuscripts, grey literature), 3) Management of formats (physical and digital), 4) Materials processing and management, 5) Appraisal, access and preservation, 6) Alternative acquisition, management and dissemination strategies.

This optional worksheet designed to be included in class 3 covers advanced JavaScript topics.

Class 4:  Introduction to metadata

Introduce metadata model (cataloging model, metadata schema, data representation model, data encoding/serialization). Discuss different types of metadata (e.g. descriptive, administrative, technical) and situate metadata within the broader context of information system design.

Class 5:  Methods of description, representation and classification

Discuss cataloging methods and different forms of metadata in information institutions. Introduce concept of metadata schemas and role that metadata standards play in enabling creation of digital documents and representations. Reinforce specific cataloging standards/approaches (e.g. RDA, DACS, ISAD/G) and introduce metadata schema (e.g. MARC, DC, EAD). Reinforce context of these standards in broader metadata and information system design models. Draw connections to other types of information systems. Explore and apply classification structures. Explore information seeking processes and the connection between categorization and cognition.

Class 6:  Metadata schema, vocabularies and encoding

Expand on concepts in metadata schema including the notion of application profiles, abstract models (e.g. Dublin Core Abstract Model) and Resource Description Framework. Broaden student understanding of vocabularies by introducing new serialization standards (e.g. XML, JSON).

Class 7:  Database design

Introduce relational database design concepts and techniques. Reframe student understanding of information systems by introducing web-based information system design (e.g. Model – View – Controller). Topics covered include entity relationship modeling, database creation, database querying and information filtering.

Class 8:  Selected topic deep dive

Designed to be a ‘catch-up’ week, class 8 includes an optional deep-dive activity into MARC for students who want to become more acquainted with that standard.

Class 9:  Search and retrieval in information systems

Explore methods for automatic indexing and ranking of information resources. Introduce foundation of web search techniques, full text searching of scanned books and image searching.

Class 10:  Creation of metadata rich web services

Explore services that support access to physical and digital objects. Introduce broad types of information services including user-focused services (library catalog) and system-focused web-services (interoperability, harvesting, transformation) (ONIX, OAI/PHM).

Class 11:  Metadata rich web services

Continue exploration of web services by exploring Open Refine and text manipulation and analysis techniques.

Class 12:  Building blocks of the web

Revisit web-publishing document standards (e.g. HTML, CSS, JavaScript). Acquaint students at a high level with web publishing approaches and reinforce concepts around web-based scripting and programming languages. For classes especially focused on metadata issues this introduction to the eXtensible Stylesheet Language could be an appropriate overview for programming concepts.

Class 13:  Emerging topics – Exploration of data management

In this class we are exploring the broad area of Research Data Management in order to better understand how issues of organization and information technology have an impact in an emerging area of interest in libraries, archives, schools and museums. Students will explore a real-world data management guide and try their hand at data management tools.

Class 14:  Next steps in information infrastructures
Review course content and bridge student knowledge of information infrastructures, systems and services to other parts of the curriculum. Discuss professional paths for different areas of interest. Connect learning by re-visiting institutional, data life-cycle and information system models.

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Introduction to data management principles and tools

On November 19th I have the pleasure of joining Jeffery Loo in giving a workshop on data management principles and tools at the D-Lab at UC Berkeley.

The workshop included a handout that includes a link to the UC Berkeley Library guide for data management. The workshop also included a series of
hands-on data management activities

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Some testing notes on Google’s power searching course platform

In the summer of 2012 Google held an online instruction course called Google power searching. The course was developed using an interactive platform that featured text, video and skill-check questions. It also featured cumulative tests and time released activities. Google was the most recent player to enger the Massive Online Open Course and enrolled over 150,000 people in its course.

This past week Google released the software behind the power searching course. While interesting just because it is an alternative for teachers interested in creating interactive online learning environments, the Google application is unique in that it was designed to work on the Google Apps Engine platform. This platform features an integrated development and testing environment and is designed around a cloud platform that scales automatically.

A quick deployment of the instructional platform on GAE revealed some interesting features. First, the course instructional elements are contained in comma separated files and can be easily loaded into the course. This allows course designers to write text and record multi-media resources as needed while also providing a visually appealing and easy-to-use.

One potential downside is that the fact that the interactive skill checks are implemented in JavaScript code files in the application itself. This feature could prove daunting for course designers seeking to efficiently manage their course elements.

The tight integration between Google Apps Engine and the software however underscores the effectiveness of an open source platform that can be deployed without the overhead of IT environment customization and management. In addition, the reliance on the django development framework in Google Apps Engine enables automated administrative interfaces that would otherwise be far down on the development list in an application like this.

In attempting to map some of my existing course activities over to the platform I found that I often designed activities that were complex and larger in scale. Decomposing these activities into discrete step-by-step processes proved difficult in the Google platform. For example in a simple test with one part of a class ( I found that some tasks were difficult to break down into manageable sizes.

A second challenge I ran into was the somewhat limited set of assessment tools. The platform features multiple choice, true/false and auto-assessed short answer questions but did not have functions to support creation of tables or matrices based on student exploration. In addition, only the quizzes gathered data on student activities and preserved it.

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ASIS&T in hurricane sandy

This past week I spent a few days in Baltimore during Hurricane Sandy the ASIS&T 2012 conference. Other than some driving rain, a curfew during the second day of the conference and a few sandbags here and there the conference came off without any issues.

Both of the panels I was on had about half of the panelists come. This made time for extra questions and audience interaction! I enjoyed presenting my work and appreciate my co-presenter Kanti standing by our Poster when I had to get back to my hotel before curfew during the poster sessions. Here’s hoping that November in Montreal will be better weather!

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Using ViewShare to teach information organization skills

At the DLF forum in Baltimore, MD last year I had the opportunity to speak with Trevor Owens from the Library of Congress about a new tool called ViewShare. ViewShare is a new type of digital library platform that features data importing, publication and visualization tools and seemed to be the perfect platform for a project in my course “Information Organization” at the University of Maryland.

Creating a digital library in ViewShare includes metadata modeling, data encoding rules, metadata interoperability and harvesting concepts (e.g. OAI-PMH) and turned out to be a good platform to get students to work with the concepts we touched on throughout the semester. A small scale project involving ViewShare was pretty successful in the spring.

I decided to re-work the experience for the Fall 2012 semester and expand on the data visualization functions of ViewShare, particularly as they relate to the design and implementation of cataloging processes. In preparation for the semester I created a worksheet to help guide the class through ViewShare (based largely on ViewShare tutorials)

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