TechWatch report looks at metadata

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The latest JISC TechWatch report calls for libraries to adopt a more 'coherent approach to metadata'. Written by Richard Gartner, the report Metadata for digital libraries: state of the art and future directions, explores how high quality metadata frameworks are critical if libraries are to provide seamless searching and retrieval technologies that can hold their own alongside established search engines.

The variety of information resources and digital collections available on the web have contributed enormously to the higher and further education community However, for the average user, accessing information that spans multiple sources often involves a plethora of different systems, catalogues and interfaces. For those increasingly used to the ease-of-use of search tools such as Google and Yahoo this can be a considerable barrier to accessing information from digital libraries and online collections.

The JISC TechWatch report argues that rectifying this problem requires above all the acceptance of the importance of metadata and the need for standardisation and integration within the library community. The complex metadata requirements of digital objects, which include descriptive, administrative and structural metadata, have so far mitigated against the emergence of a single standard. However, the report argues that a set of existing standards, all based on XML, can and should be combined to produce a coherent, integrated metadata strategy.