The Metadata Forum Metadata Matters... Wed, 09 Feb 2011 12:50:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words… Wed, 09 Feb 2011 12:50:55 +0000 Stephanie Taylor

… then how do you manage the metadata?

We’ve now had 3 meetings of the Metadata Forum. Although none of the meetings have focussed on images alone, sit seems that they are a constant hot topic of conversation whenever two or more repository managers are gathered over tea and cakes. What makes them so interesting? Basically, I think more and more people are finding image files landing in the inbox, repository or database as part of a deposit. If your original brief was to handle ‘scholarly communications’, then you might have the straight text-based deposits sorted, workflows in place, metadata sorted – in fact, everything running like clockwork. Just when you thought it was safe to smile a little and maybe do a brief, happy dance, the images start arriving.

I think there are several things coming together here, making images the latest, um, “challenge” for repository managers. First, repositories are becoming more embedded into the consciousness of researchers. As this happens, they start to make more deposits, and more deposits means a wider range of material – graphs, charts, photographs, illustrations start to make an appearance as part of a package of work. Second, increasingly institutions are moving to make depositing an e-version of a thesis part of the requirements for post-graduate students. As this gathers momentum, the chances of having to handle images as supplementary material or part of the thesis itself,  increases. And in general, the availability of  easy-to-use, free or cheap tools to create, manipulate and publish images of all kinds encourages researchers to illustrate their work with all kinds of images. In many cases a picture (or a graph, chart or map) really can paint a thousand words!

What I’ve learned from many Metadata Forum participants is -  if you aren’t already handling images, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to deal with them. And so, the idea for Picture This! was formed. A day-long workshop focussing on image metadata. The workshop is run in conjunction with Application Profiles Support, another UKOLN and JISC initiative, and takes place on 15/February/2011, in London. It’s part of the Dev8D+ programme of events, and offers a unique chance to not only talk to other practitioners about the practical issues involved in handling image metadata, but to talk to friendly developers who have great expertise in images and metadata. So not only can you learn from others on the ground, doing the same kind of work as yourself, you can also talk over issues with developers who will help you by offering solutions to problems and also work with you to create cool new tools and applications you can use to make your life easier.

Picture This! is a free event, with free lunch provided. Food, advice, re-assurance and networking with colleagues – come along and help dispel the stress around image metadata!

Although the event is free, booking is essential. Places are still available, but are limited, so book soon.

Image by peregrine blue via Flickr, used under CC license.

]]> 0
Picture This! Find Your Pefect Partner at Dev8D+ Tue, 01 Feb 2011 13:01:18 +0000 Stephanie Taylor Image details at the end of this post *

Working With Image Metadata? Need Some Help? We Can Help You Find Your Perfect Developer Partners!

Just one day after Valentine’s Day, come and share your image metadata problems with developers at ‘Picture This!’. This one-day workshop being run as part of the Dev8D+ programme of events in London on 15th February 2011, is a great chance to work on real-life issues around image metadata, talk to developers, get their help in solving your problems and… get some real-life solutions!

We’re offering

  • A chance to outline your problems to developers in a lightning talk
  • A chance to brief developers and help create practical solutions to use in your own work
  • A Developer Challenge that will run throughout Dev8D – 16th-17th Feb for the best solutions, plus mystery tokens and other prizes to encourage developers and reward their hard work
  • A chance to network with other practitioners working in the same area
  • Free lunch

What you need to do -

  • Log in to the Picture This! page on the Dev8D wiki, where you can outline the problems and issues you face, and ask for help   before the workshop
  • Come along on to the workshop and give a lightning talk outlining your problems and issues
  • Talk to developers about your problems, answer their questions, give them feedback
  • Work with developers on the day to create practical solutions

Picture This! is a one-day workshop taking place at Dev8D+ and run jointly by the Metadata Forum and the Application Profiles Support project. The workshop will bring together developers and non-technical practitioners to explore the issues around image-based metadata.

Starting with a programme of lightning talks where participants can share experiences, explain problems and pitch ideas, the day will focus on providing participants with practical solutions to image metadata problems. The workshop offers a unique opportunity for participants from a technical and non-technical background to work together to find ways to improve the delivery of services dealing with images. The event requires no previous experience, just an interest in metadata and images and a willingness to explore working together.

Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment!

*Photo courtesy of nixiepixel, via Flickr, under CC license.

]]> 0
Ploughing On & Joining In Thu, 09 Dec 2010 13:03:33 +0000 Stephanie Taylor

*photo details at end of post

Just a quick update to confirm that despite recent adverse weather conditions, the Metadata Forum meeting on metadata for complex objects is still happening in York on Friday 10/December. There’s been a slight change to the original speaker lineup, but due to illness not snow. We’re tough up north!!

The speakers will be -

Nick Sheppard, Repository Developer, (sometimes Repository Czar), Leeds Metropolitan University

Nick will be talking about his experiences developing a “blended”repository for research and Open Educational Resources at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Julie Allinson, Digital Library Manager for the Library & Archives, University of York

Julie will be talking about the work of the Digital Library at the University of York, and in particular their work with images.

Jodie Double, Digital Content and Repositories Manager, University of Leeds

Jodie will be talking about user generated catalogue records for audio and video vs. the perfect record that is sometimes attempted to be achieved.

To find out more about the speakers and check the programme, see the Meeting Page.

This meeting is also now on Lanyrd, (with thanks to Nick Sheppard), so if you’re attending, go along and join the event page at –

This Forum meeting has been fully booked since Monday, but if you have questions or comments and are not able to attend, don’t forget to contact me and I’ll make sure your interest is represented at the meeting.

Contact me via -

Email –

Twitter – @metadataforum

Or leave a comment here on the blog.

There will be a live Twitter stream from the meeting tomorrow using the tag


Notes, speaker slides and other information will be available on Monday, so check back then.

*Photo from Autowitch via Flickr, used with thanks under CC license.
]]> 0
A Voyage Round Dublin Core Fri, 03 Dec 2010 12:31:58 +0000 Stephanie Taylor *Image details at end of post

A long time ago in a faraway place, ‘DC’ was associated in my mind with the word ‘Washington’. Aged 7, I was very proud to be the only kid in my class who knew that ‘DC’ in ‘Washington DC’ stood for ‘District of Columbia’ I wasn’t particularly bright, but my aunty had a friend who had moved there, so it stuck in my head. I had no idea what it actually meant,  I’d just  rote-learned the words.

Time moves on, and as anyone who has tangled with metadata at an level can tell you, these days ‘DC’ has only one meaning for me – Dublin Core. When first exposed to DC,  I often had  that same feeling I’d had, aged 7,  of parroting things I had heard or read. Phrases and acronyms zipped around in my head, (simple, qualified, DCMI, Core (why core?!?), Dublin (and was there any Guinness?) ISO Standard 15836, NISO Standard Z39.85-2007, and on and on) accompanied by a vague feeling of panic and I longed for the certainty I’d had in my life when ‘DC’ meant ‘District of Columbia’.

Then one day I’d had enough. I decided I was going to try and find out what this DC stuff was all about. I started with some basic facts, working on the principle that the more you know, the less there is to fear. Tackling the ‘Dublin’ and ‘Core’ bit, I found nothing too scary. ‘Dublin’ was because the first workshop where DC was discussed was held in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Images of metadata being discussed over pints of Guinness along the Liffey vanished at once.  ‘Core’ was even more illuminating. The concept of a ‘core’  metadata elements set that can be expended is at the heart of DC. Of course, this led to a realisation that Simple DC was a basic, pared-down set of 15 elements and Qualified DC was about expanding that core element set and making it more flexible. Simple! Well, maybe, maybe not, but that’s a story yet to be told…

And it’s because of that story that I’m revisiting my early experiences with DC.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to be re-looking at DC and the work of the DCMI from a practical perspective. I want to see what’s happening on the ground with DC, how people are using it or not using it, what works and what doesn’t. When the Metadata Forum launched, I asked people to bring me their ‘metadata hopes, dreams and fears’, and DC seems to fit into all three categories. If you love DC, loath it or are just plain baffled, let me know and I’ll incorporate your questions and experiences into the DC posts, and I’m also working on a Forum meeting focussed on DC.

So wish me ‘Bon Voyage’ and watch out here on the blog for postcards along the way…

*Image from calsidyrose via Flickr, used under CC license.

]]> 0
ePub/eBooks Hacking – Not Just For Developers Mon, 29 Nov 2010 13:03:26 +0000 Stephanie Taylor *Image details at end of post

On 13th and 14th of December, I’ll be attending the DevCSI project Hacking ePub/eBooks event in Bristol. The event is being run in conjunction with the JISC-funded Application Profiles Support Project, and I’m hoping to pick up lots of information about how metadata is used in this environment during the two days. The ePub standard is a free and open standard that includes embedded metadata among it’s feature, which I obviously want to get the lowdown on. I’m also keen to widen my limited experience of the business end of eBooks, and find out more about how metadata is being applied to them. I’ll be posting my metadata-related discoveries here on the blog.

This is my second hacking event – I attended the DecCSI Reading Lists Hackday in Cambridge, back in July. I’m back for more because I learned a lot at the Reading Lists event. The most valuable lesson I learned is that hacking is not just for developers. In fact, it’s the mix of developers and non-technical practitioners that really make a hack day. Years of working in a software company as a non-technical project manager exposed me to the joys of working with developers, those magical people who can build what you need.  So I’m keen to re-establish this kind of working relationship, albeit for a couple of days, whenever I get a chance.

To all my non-technical colleagues, I’d like to say, if you see a hacking event happening in an area you have an interest in, attend it if you possibly can. I know a lot of people who aren’t developers are put off by the fact that they have no technical expertise, but really, that’s the whole point. Look at it the other way round. Developers have all these amazing skills, but what they lack is what you have – a good, practically-based knowledge of what users need and why they need stuff . So tell them what you need, and hopefully they’ll build it. And they’ll do more than that, they’ll show you what can’t be done and why, and also show you things you never thought possible. Along the way, you’ll both get a unique chance to look at a specific area of your work from a totally new perspective.

I can’t tell you what I’ll learn at this event until I’ve been, but past experience tells me I’ll learn a lot. It’s a great way to tackle a steep learning curve in a new area, a brilliantly practical ‘hands-on’ introduction to problems and solutions and a fantastic insight into the way developers work. In short,  it’ll serve you well once you’re back in the day job. The more you can practice working in a team with developers, learning to understand their point of view and learning to share your issues and ideas from your own perspective in a way that they can understand, the better you will understand how to get the most out of any new system or project. You won’t come away as a technical genius, but that’s the point – you don’t have to. Instead, you’ll come away able to ask some of the right questions and make yourself clearly understood. You’ll also have a much better understanding of the kinds of issues developers face and the kinds of solutions they can offer.

If the last event I attended is anything to go by, you also stand a very good chance of coming away with an actual working prototype of something that was just a vague idea when you started. Oh, and another benefit of working with developers – there’s sure to be great coffee ;-)

*Photo shows delegates working on s project at the Reading Lists Hackday,  ‘borrowed’ (!) from the DevSCI blog
]]> 1
Metadata For Complex Objects Update Mon, 29 Nov 2010 10:28:23 +0000 Stephanie Taylor *Image details at end of post

Bookings for the next Forum meeting on 10th December 2010 are brisk. Clearly metadata for complex objects is a hot topic for many people right now. I’ll be publishing short overviews from the speakers later in the week, but I can confirm that we will be hearing about images, theses and teaching and learning objects, with further announcements to come. If you want to attend but haven’t yet booked, you can do so using the booking form, which also links to full details of the meeting and venue.**

I’ve also been pleased to receive questions and comments via email and Twitter from people who aren’t able to attend the meeting in person, but still have a contribution to make. If you can’t make the meeting, feel free to drop me an email, tweet @metadataforum or even give me a call and let me know  your thoughts and questions. All contributions received before the day or on the day itself will be presented during the meeting, and discussions and answers to queries will be fed back to everyone via Twitter and the blog. Speaker notes and presentations will also be freely available after the meeting, again with links and and overviews here on the blog.

The tag for the meeting will be -


You will be able to follow announcements about the event via twitter (as well as feeds from blogs and websites etc.) by searching for the above tag. If you are new to twitter, please visit, and create an account for yourself. We will be using technologies like this frequently, before, during and after the event. If you require a twitter client (software to keep up to date with the latest tweets), several can be found at

*Image of the University of York temporary protakbin library accommodation during the current refurbishment project.
**A final note on the location -  the meeting will be held at the University of York library portakabin. In answer to many tweets about the venue, I think you’ll agree it’s a portakabin, but not as we know it ;-)
]]> 0
Next Forum Meeting – Metadata For Complex Objects – 10/Dec/10 Mon, 22 Nov 2010 14:59:54 +0000 Stephanie Taylor Image used under CC license, from via Flickr

The next meeting of the Metadata Forum will look at the practical aspects of creating and managing metadata for complex objects. This event is free, though booking is essential. Priority will be given to delegates from UK HEIs, though people with an interest in the subject from other sectors are welcome if numbers allow.

The term ‘complex objects’ covers a wide variety of non-standard items, including non-text-based formats and multi-layered items. Such objects are increasingly being presented as deposits in institutional repositories and other content management and discovery contexts. The meeting will look at practical problems and solutions, with a chance to learn from the hands-on experience of people already working with such objects.

The first part of the meeting will focus on individual case studies from people currently working with complex objects. This will be followed by an open discussion session around the presentations with a chance to discuss individual problems and solutions in an informal group.  Following a networking lunch, the meeting will conclude with a round table session to discuss the common themes and issues emerging from managing the metadata for complex objects. Suggestions for how we can better support each other in this area of work will be explored and fed back to the wider community.

Programme and booking form available at

]]> 0
Seeds Of Change? Wed, 06 Oct 2010 15:57:44 +0000 Stephanie Taylor

Photo by “Clairity“, via Flickr, used under CC License.

I am currently moderating a discussion at a conference. I’m not being rude and ignoring the participants as I write this post -  the conference session is a virtual one and taking place online, via a message board. Instead, I’m carrying on with other tasks and also monitoring the discussion.

The e-conference -  “Learning Repositories in Agriculture Food & Environment: Quality Promises &
Considerations in Learning Repositories and Portals (AgLR 2010)”, is being run by which Agricultural Learning Repositories Task Force (AgLR-TF) and the e-Agriculture Community. It starts today (6th October) and runs until 20th October. It’s open to anyone with an interest in learning-based repositories and portals, and although the subject is agricultural resources, the discussions are always more generally applicable to services in other subject areas too.

I’m co-moderating a session in week one (this week), with Jackie Wickham of the RSP. The topic we are looking at is metadata, and to start off the discussion participants are being asked to consider four questions and post their responses  -

1. Have you described in the past, your learning resources using metadata (description, title, keywords, tags, etc)? Which are the metadata elements that you mainly use?

2. Do you feel that providing metadata for resources is useful? What are the incentives that drive you, to provide the metadata?

3. What constitutes high quality metadata for a resource? Is it completeness for all metadata elements? Is it the clarity and correctness of the language used? Other aspects?

4. What are the benefits you see in providing metadata for learning resources in practice?

I’ve never taken part in an e-conference before, so I’m quite excited!  Being an e-conference, potentially we will be able to have input from across the world, which is quite a thought. Also, with travel budgets being cut in even the most well-off countries and organisations, I’m keen to see if e-conferencing offers a way to get more people involved in a discussion, and help to open up an event to people who may not usually be able to afford either the time or cost of travelling to a face-to-face meeting.

The virtual environment also means that the discussion can, potentially, run for a full working week.  I’m interested to see if this encourages more people to contribute to the discussions, because they can do so at a time and a place that is convenient for them.

The e-conference started at 1pm GMT, so has not been underway for very long.   You can sign up and join in here , just follow the link in the left menu to register.

And I’d like to know what you think of this was of running a conference. Would it work for you? Have you participated in an e-conference before? Would you consider signing up for this kind of online event? Let me know what you think!

]]> 0
RepoFringe2010 – Metadata, Repos & Dumplings Mon, 06 Sep 2010 15:02:38 +0000 Stephanie Taylor

Last Frday, 3rd, September,  the Metadata Forum held a second face-to-face meeting at the RepoFringe 2010. With an event focussing on repositories, there was much talk of metadata in both the practical and the abstract.  Talks and sessions from the RepoFringe can be found at the event blog. The blog is being added to over the next few days, so please check back if a specific session is not yet ‘live’ on the blog.

Tony Hirst of the Open University gave an interesting and thought-provoking keynote address, looking at mashups and using informal publication methods. He raised the inevitable questions around the default use of the PDF format for documents, and it’s many limitations with regard to accessing content. This was only matched later in the evening by his insightful thoughts on popular music and how to freak out your teenage offspring shared at a nearby alternative Fringe venue.

Both days saw Pecha Kucha sessions, with speakers being given 2 minutes and 20 slides to share their projects. All the speakers were excellent, though explaining an institutional repository through the medium of cake seemed a sure winner for the first day for Robbie and Toby talking about Enlighten, the IR of the University of Glasgow! Do check out the session slides as they become available – they are an very useful way of getting a quick overview of many exciting projects happening at the moment.

Round table sessions on both days provided a good way to discuss topics of interest in more detail. The Metadata Forum chaired one of the sessions on… metadata. Specifically we looked at metadata for time-based objects and the aggregation of metadata, helped by Sheila Fraser of EDINA who is working on a JISC Scoping Study on this subject. Full details will follow in my next post.

Other particularly interesting presentations from a metadata perspective were given by Herbert Van De Sompel of Los Alamos National Library, Chris Awre of the University of Hull and Michael Fourman of the University of Edinburgh.

Herbert looked at adding a time dimension to searching, allowing people to search for earlier versions of web pages through the Memento project. The implications of this were very interesting and the idea of being able to search in time as well as space was intriguing and useful.

Chris spoke about the Hydra project, a joint project between the Universities of Hull, Stanford and Virginia working in partnership with Fedora Commons. The success of this collaborative venture, where each institution offers it’s expertise and resources to create a repository that can be tailored to individual requirements yet would be out of reach without thus collective approach was inspiring. Agreements and flexibility is the way forward – something that affects metadata decisions on a very practical level.

Michael explored a different approach to classifying documents using Topic Models. Topic Models offer an alternative, potentially more accurate way of classifying documents than keywords, as they pinpoint more accurately what an article is actually about by looking at word frequency. A little Bayesian magic is then applied to balance the model.

The closing address was delivered by Kevin Ashley of the DCC who gave a great summary of the past two days. He also spoke about the need for repositories to work with and link into many other systems – a vision that is, of course, supported by metadata in many forms! Kevin’s humorous yet thoughtful address made a perfect end two an event that had been both useful and enjoyable.

Thanks to all the organisers for a great RepoFringe 2010. The Metadata Forum would also like to thank James Toon of the ERIS project for sustaining the metadata frenzy of the Fringe with possibly the best Chinese dumplings she has ever had the pleasure of eating. ;)

]]> 0
We’re Going To The Fringe Wed, 25 Aug 2010 07:49:05 +0000 Stephanie Taylor

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

The Metadata Forum will be holding a face-to-face meeting at the Repo Fringe 2010 in Edinburgh, 2-3 September. The meeting is free and open to anyone who has an interest in metadata. So if you’re coming along to the event, or will be in Edinburgh and have an interest in metadata,  please come and join in – everyone is welcome!

More details of a suggested agenda and guest speaker will follow. There may even be chocolate biscuits and shortbread(!).

*Photo used under CC licensing, with thanks to mrbrocks. Find out about the famous  Greyfriars Bobby of Edinburgh, a sad story of love, devotion and metadata (well, ok, maybe not metadata!).

]]> 0