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Toward a Metadata Generation Framework

last modified 2008-01-06

Patton, M, Reynolds, D, Choudhury, GS, and DiLauro, T (2004). Toward a Metadata Generation Framework

D-Lib Magazine 10(11):.

In the June 2003 issue of D-Lib Magazine, Kenney et al. (2003) discuss a comparative study between Cornell's email reference staff and Google's Answers service. This interesting study provided insights on the potential impact of "computing and simple algorithms combined with human intelligence" for library reference services. As mentioned in the Kenney et al. article, Bill Arms (2000) had discussed the possibilities of automated digital libraries in an even earlier D-Lib article. Arms discusses not only automating reference services, but also another library function that seems to inspire lively debates about automation—metadata creation. While intended to illuminate, these debates sometimes generate more heat than light. In an effort to explore the potential for automating metadata generation, the Digital Research and Curation Center (DRCC) of the Sheridan Libraries at The Johns Hopkins University developed and tested an automated name authority control (ANAC) tool. ANAC represents a component of a digital workflow management system developed in connection with the digital Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music. The evaluation of ANAC followed the spirit of the Kenney et al. study that was, as they stated, "more exploratory than scientific." These ANAC evaluation results are shared with the hope of fostering constructive dialogue and discussions about the potential for semi-automated techniques or frameworks for library functions and services such as metadata creation. The DKC's research agenda emphasizes the development of tools that combine automated processes and human intervention, with the overall goal of involving humans at higher levels of analysis and decision-making. Others have looked at issues regarding the automated generation of metadata. A session at the 2003 Joint Conference on Digital Libraries was devoted to automatic metadata creation, and a session at the 2004 conference addressed automated name disambiguation. Commercial vendors such as OCLC, Marcive, and LTI have long used automated techniques for matching names to Library of Congress authority records. We began developing ANAC as a component of a larger suite of open source tools to support workflow management for digital projects. This article describes the goals for the ANAC tool, provides an overview of the metadata records used for testing, describes the architecture for ANAC, and concludes with discussions of the methodology and evaluation of the experiment comparing human cataloging and ANAC-generated results.

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