RLI 283 Metastatic Metadata 33 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 Integrating Workflow Philosophically, the heart of UPP lay in three principles: the work must be practical, routine, and intensely collaborative. To be practical meant keeping a razor-like focus on providing direct experience with metadata as quickly as possible, thrusting participants directly into the mode of learning through actual production, and sustaining the work long enough for it to become routine. Each UPP session was launched with SCUA convening a quick four-hour introduction to the project, to the MODS standard, and to the Oxygen XML-authoring software. After the introduction, participants were assigned one box each of university photographs, and with little ceremony, sent straight to work. To make the UPP work routine required some conceptual adjustment, leading SCUA to turn away from its inborn affinity for notions of productivity and efficiency. Abandoning all productivity goals in order to keep the focus on learning, SCUA asked only that participants establish a regular schedule to prevent UPP work from being devoured by the creeping sands of daily life. Similarly, SCUA rejected the idea of having participants work in groups in a lab-like setting, reasoning that metadata work should be an everyday part of library life, conducted wherever workers actually work: their own desks and offices. The library’s systems department installed Oxygen on each participant’s workstation, enabling them to explore the new standards in the comfort of their native habitat. Ordinary, routine, and comfortable were the watchwords. Once participants settled into their offices, the workflow was straightforward. Since each image had already been scanned and described—not always accurately—UPP participants began by selecting a photograph from their assigned box, locating the record in the outdated online repository, and checking it for sufficiency and accuracy. Then they set about creating a new MODS record, using a template supplied by SCUA, that would be ingested into Credo. Participants worked directly from the original photograph, rather than the digital surrogate, because some images contained captions or other valuable contextual data that had not been captured previously. This was not simple data entry. Indeed, nearly every record in the project required intervention to bring it into conformity with current content standards and to add subject tracings, and many records required significant editing or emendation. Collaborative Investment The final principle of UPP, that the project should be intensely collaborative, placed the greatest demands on the SCUA staff and UPP participants alike. At the top level, collaboration began with the support of the director of libraries and the heads of other departments, who saw that short-term reduction in staffing would reap long-term benefits in the form of a more flexible and up-to-date staff. SCUA, too, felt the sting of short-term reductions, as its staff mentored three to five UPP participants each session, paying an initial onsite visit to each participant to provide one-on-one orientation, followed by rounds of encouragement and consultation as the project progressed. SCUA also monitored completed records for accuracy, sufficiency, and validity, addressing issues as soon as they arose. During the course of the project, the average burden for the three SCUA instructors was roughly on par with the five-hour per week commitment of other UPP participants, although of course the load spiked during planning, training, and the first week of production.
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