Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cataloging Futures: A response

In its Jan. 5 entry, Cataloging Futures (http://www.catalogingfutures.com/) announces a change in focus upon XQuery and MarkLogic Server for digital collections in libraries (“Cataloging Futures takes a new direction”).

XQuery responds to an increasing need to classify or “query” data that has been created in the XML format.

As explained by W3C, “XML is a versatile markup language, capable of labeling the information content of diverse data sources including structured and semi-structured documents, relational databases, and object repositories. A query language that uses the structure of XML intelligently can express queries across all these kinds of data, whether physically stored in XML or viewed as XML via middleware” (http://www.w3.org/TR/xquery/).

MarkLogic is “an enterprise software company powering [more than] 500 of the world’s most critical Big Data Applications with the first operational database technology capable of handling any data, at any volume, in any structure,” according to its website at http://www.marklogic.com/.

While I don’t entirely understand these applications, the blog’s direction seems to reflect a desire by its author, Christine Schwartz, to stay current with industry developments.

Much of Schwartz’s blog is very technical in nature, with reproduced examples of XQuery code included in recent posts.  Aside from these portions, for which I lack the relevant experience, I found the blog to offer thoughtful reflections upon developments in the industry.

The Jan. 4 post about Code Academy’s Code Year opportunity was interesting because it reflects a field of study that I believe will benefit me in both my present occupation as a social media curator and in my library studies.

“Catalogers work with massive amounts of curated bibliographic data, and being able to manipulate it in new and different ways and in ever increasing amounts is key as we move forward into the bibliographic future and the world of linked data and the semantic web.”

Another post concerned a shift in information roles from “catalogers” to ‘information ninjas” (June 24, 2011). It piqued my interest because of a similar shift in the role of traditional journalists to curators of information across a variety of platforms.

Some emerging responsibilities that “digital ninjas” will face include “Moving away from traditional records file and library classification systems and making innovative use of more consumable methods of classification such as metadata and social tagging.”

As a library or media professional, I view myself as a curator of information, whatever form that information may take. I use whatever classification will provide access to that material.

For example, on Twitter, hashtags create access points for following a particular story. Twitter users who self-curate their posts with the use of an agreed-upon tag can engage in conversations (tweetchats) among multiple users.

I see social tagging similarly in use in the publication of blogs. Authors generate descriptive tags for the subjects of their posts.

A person who reads one of my blogs about “libraries” and then wants to read more, can click the tag to bring up only those entries that are linked to that tag.

A word cloud displays tags in varying sizes that relate to frequency of use. A viewer can thus see which topics I most frequently blog about.

I believe that in this emerging future, there will still be a need for professional catalogers.

Physical collections still need to be organized in ways that have continuity and facilitate sharing of materials. If every library used different tags to define their collections, how would anyone find anything at any other library than the one that he or she is used to? How would libraries share with each other?

I think user-generated tags will enhance, maybe alter, but not entirely replace the use of standard classifications.

This essay was submitted in response to an assignment in LIBT 104: Organizing Information in the Cuesta College Library and Information Technology program.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Robust debate and even unusual opinions are encouraged, but please stay on-topic and be respectful. Comments are subject to review for personal attacks or insults, discriminatory statements, hyperlinks not directly related to the discussion and commercial spam.