Lots of library offers and services exist without receiving particular attention from the users simply because the end users have absolutely no knowledge of them.
One example is metadata, which for years have played an important part in the bibliographic basic knowledge that libraries use as the basis for registration and management of data and not least for providing accessibility.
As appears from one of the articles featured in this issue of SLQ, both definition and application of metadata have changed meaning over the past few years. Where the concept used to be part of the internal library professional debate, the meaning and application of metadata have changed to also include something more extravert like for example usergenerated data, which have become a nreality in the slipstream of the extensive digitisation of collections.
Focus on visibility
Now metadata are used much more offensively albeit in different ways in terms of individual areas and sectors such as archives, libraries, the film industry and museums. Metadata facilitate access to content, thereby increasing availability, but are equally important in relation to preservation.
When metadata become a larger part of accessibility, it means more focus on visi bility, but it also brings about specific problems for the actors.
Cultural institutions all over the world have recently been working on making the content of their collections available in digital form. Anyone who works with digital content, or uses it, is aware of limitations in terms of access to the actual content. However, metadata can also pose other challenges, if the material is not made available by the institution that has the material in its collection. Metadata cannot necessarily be shared and passed on to others.
User generated metadata constitute a particular challenge, as many users are perhaps not aware of the relevant standards used for handling metadata. On the other hand, user generated data are instrumental in enhancing collections, creating knowledge between cultural institution and user – so that it does not remain just an internal library matter.
The library user’s work “in the background” should be applauded and encouraged – the results will no doubt be gratifying.