[metadataLibrarians] Newbie question about metadata librarianskills and training
Riley, Jennifer L
jenlrile at indiana.edu
Wed Jan 4 07:28:19 PST 2006
Great question! I'll add a bit of complexity to it, before I give my
opinion, if that's OK. :-) In my experience, no two "Metadata Librarian"
positions are the same. Some of us do more traditional cataloging,
others work more with special collections, some manage digital library
systems, and some do more programming, etc., ad infinitum. Therefore
the skills needed to do the job at one institution might be vastly
different than those needed at another. My job, for example, is very
digital library focused, whereas not all of metadata librarian jobs are.
While library schools are starting to teach more courses that help
prepare people to do some of these tasks, I'm a big believer in learning
through practical experience. The students who are most successful in
getting metadata-related jobs out of library school here at IU are those
who worked in some capacity in our digital library program, and gained
hands-on experience. As an employer, I find that experience vastly more
important than coursework, and I suspect I'm not alone in that
Here are a few skills I find useful in my iteration of a "Metadata
- Working knowledge of various descriptive traditions (traditional
library, rare materials, archives, etc.) so I can effectively balance
specialized access and descriptive needs for various types of materials
with the right amount of standardization and vision for
interoperability. This can definitely be gained through coursework, and
I'm constantly learning more in this area by working closely with
experts on my campus.
- XML technologies. We work in an XML-heavy environment here at IU, so
being able to write XSLT, learn new metadata formats by looking at a DTD
or XML Schema, or even doing an occasional bit of markup by hand is very
useful to me. More and more these skills are appearing in library school
classes, but many people can effectively learn this sort of thing
through online tutorials and good books (think O'Reilly!), combined with
a practical task to try out what you learn.
- A pretty good understanding of how digital library systems work. My
job is much more about planning how metadata will be used to provide
access and preserve digital library materials, rather than about
*creating* metadata. To do this effectively, I need to know a lot about
digital file formats, how search engines work, and what's hard to
implement and what's easy in our systems. I need to be able to write
good *functional* specifications for systems, describing what I want the
system to *do*, that a programmer can implement. I'm not a hard-core
programmer, but I need to be able to think enough like one that I can
give them the information they need to do their jobs.
- Problem-solving skills. I believe this is the single most important
aptitude someone needs to be a good "metadata librarian." I find
applying established principles to new environments is essential to be
good at my job, and that requires me to think creatively with each new
challenge. Like others who have posted, that's really why I love my job.
Digital Library Program
Indiana University - Bloomington
Wells Library E170
Inquiring Librarian blog: www.inquiringlibrarian.blogspot.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: metadatalibrarians-bounces at lists.monarchos.com
> [mailto:metadatalibrarians-bounces at lists.monarchos.com] On
> Behalf Of Tom Tideswell
> Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 7:42 AM
> To: metadatalibrarians at lists.monarchos.com
> Subject: [metadataLibrarians] Newbie question about metadata
> librarianskills and training
> Hi All
> I'd be very interested in hearing how folks on this list
> acquired the skills that make up their jobs.
> I have a library degree, but currently do something else.
> I've been seeing positions advertised for metadata (or
> catalog & metadata) librarians, and am intrigued by them.
> They certainly didn't teach metadata librarianship (as
> such) at *my* school, and when I look at websites for various
> library schools and iSchools, I see a wide range of classes
> that have *something* to do with metadata, but nothing about
> metadata librarian practice per se. I guess that's not
> surprising, since it's a new area.
> So, for those of you who are willing to answer naive questions:
> How did you become a metadata librarian?
> What skills do you use?
> How did you acquire the skills and knowledge that are
> involved in your job?
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> metadatalibrarians at lists.monarchos.com
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