Focus on Committees and Interest Groups: LITA/ALCTS Metadata Standards Committee

Today we are visiting with the LITA/ALCTS Metadata Standards Committee. Learn more about their work supporting better metadata standards!

What’s the mission of the LITA/ALCTS Metadata Standards Committee?

The mission of the Metadata Standards Committee (MSC) is to play a leadership role in developing and maintaining guidelines and principles for evaluating, adopting, and applying metadata standards. The work of the MSC is focused on the intersection between standards for resource description, access, and management, their implementation in encoding schemas and information systems, and formats for metadata serialization and exchange. To assist the ALA community in making informed and user-focused decisions relating to metadata, the Committee reviews and evaluates metadata standards relevant to cultural heritage institutions, engages in outreach and education on metadata issues, and maintains liaison relationships with concerned units within ALA and with relevant outside agencies. To serve this mission, the MSC engages in outreach and standards evaluation. In previous years we focused on developing a set of metadata evaluation principles, and in the coming year we have a strong focus on creating connections and building bridges across metadata communities and standards.

Can you tell us about some past projects of your committee that you’re particularly proud of?

MSC began our work a few years ago during a period of considerable change in the metadata community. Unlike previous standards committees, we were not charged to review specific standards or to work on a particular set of issues. As we got started, an important contribution we felt we could make was to help libraries and metadata experts evaluate standards using a common set of principles. As a first step we created a blog site to disseminate standards information and encourage dialog on the practice and importance of metadata standards, named In the past few years we have used this site in a few different ways—to document the evaluations of standards that we have performed, to communicate important metadata issues and to provide some visibility to the work of the committee. Most recently several members of the committee gathered to work in real-time to evaluate the NISO Tag Suite Standard. We presented our work and experience with group evaluation and writing at the ALCTS Metadata Interest Group Meeting at the ALA Annual Conference in 2017.

Has the focus of your committee changed over time? Are there any current trends or concerns in the profession that have an impact on the projects you are pursuing?

The Metadata Standards Committee is just now entering our fifth year. As part of our recent review by ALCTS, we revised our charge to clarify the broader standards work that the committee felt was appropriate and to propose more concrete tactics to help us fulfil our mission. For the coming year we are focusing on outreach and community-building and connecting perspectives from different metadata communities.

What are the future directions of your committee?

Our plan for 2017–18 includes two main goals, to “Engage metadata standards bodies to understand the landscape of metadata and communicate about MSC efforts” and to “Foster communication and collaboration across metadata standards groups.” To help us realize those goals, the MSC wants to contact metadata agencies, organizations and other groups to discuss areas of concern and potential collaboration. We want to try informal interviews with structured questions, where we seek to learn what is most important to these various communities, what would be most useful for them right now with respect to their particular metadata schema or platform, and other topics. We are shooting for some outreach and presentation opportunities to help help foster more collaboration with various metadata communities and hope to bring together a panel of experts for a critical conversation session at ALA 2018.

Do you have any upcoming programming, publications, or initiatives that you’d like to tell readers of ALCTS News about?

We have submitted a program proposal for ALA Annual where we would like to gather a diverse panel of metadata organizations to discuss pressing metadata issues. We also hope to write a white paper covering emerging or critical issues in addition to potential steps forward that we have gleaned from our outreach efforts.

What’s the best way for ALCTS members to get involved with your committee?

We continue to use as well as ALA Connect to document the work of our committee and very much welcome input and participation. Come to our meetings at Annual and Midwinter and reach out to the co-chairs Nadine Ellero and Erik Mitchell with ideas for standards to evaluate or communities to connect with. Join LITA or ALCTS and express interest in the MSC. It is quite easy!