Library school is in full swing for me. It’s hard, but not impossible. Lots of reading, which is annoying only because when people ask me what classes are like, I have to reply, “It is a lot of reading.” This furthers the stereotype that all the field consists of is reading. Wrong. Librarianship isn’t about books, it’s about information. One main concept we’ve started to talk about now is “metadata,” essentially, data about data. Informally, metadata is “a cloud of collateral information around a data object” – Clifford Lynch. Metadata are the descriptions of items or records in a catalog that allow you to search by keyword or description rather than the search engine having to search loads of full text and taking much longer. Example time.
So for a particular album or book or DVD or journal article, metadata and data are different. Let’s look at a random album to make this a bit more real, say, the album 19 by Adele. Metadata would include things like, album title, artist, record label, executive producer, and the data for the specific album would be 19, Adele, Columbia/XL, and Jim Abbiss. So that’s metadata.
Metadata allows better cataloging and more efficient searching. But it’s also super complex and confusing, far more than I ever really thought it would be, mainly because no specific format for metadata has achieved real standardization in the information world. So you’ve got millions of different individuals, corporations, libraries, and groups using all sorts of different search methods using different metadata. Confusing.
It’s an interesting concept to me though, and it will be especially interesting once I learn how to apply it to real life or actually get to work with metadata in a real way. Since that won’t happen for awhile, I’ve decided to undertake a giant personal project to get my head around the idea. I’m metadata-ing my iTunes library. Hawt.
I’m going to try to get one album a week catalogued, which means I’ll have this whole project done by the year 2022. Not bad. To get more specific, I’m going to basically be adding info about each album I have into the comments section of a song or album’s info. So I’m starting with some cataloging already done, a few standard fields all filled in: