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Bicentennial Conference  on 
        Bibliographic Control for the New Millenium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked 
        Resources and the Web
sponsored by the Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate
Topical Discussion Group 8:
How Can Libraries Participate More Actively in the Development of Metadata Standards?
Discussion Facilitator:
Sally Sinn
Associate Director, Technical Services Division
National Agricultural Library
Room 203
10501 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705


The Conference topical discussion groups are for the purpose of identifying recommendations made by the speakers and commentators in their presentations and for developing recommended actions and an overall action plan for discussion and approval by the Conference in its concluding plenary session. Each topical discussion group consists of a facilitator who, with a designated number of participants, is assigned a specific topic related to the presentations that will serve as the focal point for identifying recommendations and deriving recommended actions and an overall action plan. Each group will also have an LC staff member to take notes and capture highlights throughout the discussion.


The library community has played a long and active role in establishing cataloging standards for its extensive collections. A major leader in this community has been the Library of Congress with its development of MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging), LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings), and LCC (Library of Congress Classification), and its participation in the development of AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) and the ISBDs (International Standard Bibliographic Description). These standards, developed over the past century, have ensured that cataloging records can be exchanged and shared worldwide among a large number and variety of libraries. Their widespread application and adoption are a source of both celebration and discussion at this Conference. In many of the papers, such as those by Lois Chan, Ann Huthwaite, Sally McCallum, and Matthew Beacom, for instance, they are the focal topic.

Until recently, the development of these and associated cataloging standards has been the provenance of the library community. This situation, however, has changed appreciably over the past decade due to the emergence of electronic resources, both tangible and remote. Cataloging, now under the hubris of "resource description" and "resource discovery," has received the attention of non-librarians, including computer scientists, archivists, humanities scholars, and geographers, among others. These communities have developed a wide variety of metadata schemes that have been approved and adopted as standards, which are being applied in their particular disciplinary domains. Examples include the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), the EAD (Encoded Archival Description), the CSDGM (Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata), and the DC (Dublin Core), which has the broad participation of a number of communities. In addition, current metadata initiatives are being undertaken by organizations and groups associated with E-Commerce and rights management. While representatives of the library community, such as the Library of Congress, have participated in varying degrees in the development of these and other metadata initiatives, the community overall has not been heavily involved with metadata issues. In the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress (, these issues are considered to be "strategic" and to "have profound implications for libraries and other information providers generally, and for the Library of Congress in particular." The report stresses that it is of particular importance that the Library, and by implication the library community, become much more actively involved with the metadata community in addressing the development and evolution of metadata standards. The library community, with its unique and longtime experience in developing and maintaining cataloging standards, also has much to offer in return.


Metadata standards play a key role in providing for the identification, discovery, and retrieval of Web resources. Standards-making activities are a collaborative process, and in the case of metadata call upon the experience and expertise of broad participation on the part of the library and other information providers. In this assignment, we are asking you to explore the participation of libraries in this process by asking you to develop a prioritized list of 4-6 recommended actions that academic and research libraries, in particular, could undertake towards becoming more actively involved in working with the metadata community on the development of metadata standards. These actions could draw upon past or current experiences within the library community, or they might exploit the collaboration of external groups and organizations. Also, in conjunction with these actions, we ask you to identify areas of cataloging/resource description and discovery (2-3), where you feel there is a need for the cooperative participation of the library and metadata communities to develop metadata standards.These areas might already involve current or ongoing metadata standards efforts or else be new areas you would like to propose. Your list of recommendations would be helpful to both communities. In addition, they would complement an important goal of this conference, which is to "participate in developing and promoting national and international standards that will enable libraries and metadata communities to meet the new and changing needs of Web users."


Your topical discussion group is organized into two parts to cover the two Conference days in which you meet.

  1. The first meeting is in the afternoon of Day 2 of the Conference. The objective of this meeting is to have you brainstorm your topic by sharing your thoughts and ideas in an informal discussion. Your facilitator will serve to direct the discussion and to keep it focused and moving. An LC staff member will be present to record major points of discussion.

    Follow the lead of your facilitator in determining the format of the discussion. Then start by identifying any suggestions or recommendations offered by the speakers, commentators, and participants on your topic. Next, move on to identify potential actions that academic and research libraries could undertake towards working with the metadata community on the development of metadata standards. Also consider potential areas of cataloging/resource description and discovery where there is a need for further or new standards initiatives. By close of the meeting, you should have an extended list of actions and areas of standards initiatives for review on the following Day 3 of the Conference.

  2. The second meeting begins in the morning of Day 3 with the facilitator and LC recorder present. Time spent at this meeting is focused on reviewing the list that was drafted in the first meeting and extracting from it a list of 4-6 recommended actions and 2-3 areas of cataloging/resource description and discovery arranged in priority order.

Once you have finalized the prioritized list of criteria, the LC recorder will input it to a computer and a Powerpoint presentation will be created for your facilitator to present to conferees.

Presentation and Action Plan:

Your facilitator will present the prioritized list for discussion and approval in the closing session of the conference. Conferees will use this list along with the prioritized recommendations presented by the facilitators of the other topical discussion groups to develop an overall action plan that the Library of Congress can carry forward from the Conference.

Library of Congress
October 22, 2000
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