Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums Part 1: Site Reviews

An OCLC Research Report by Karen Smith-Yoshimura, (OCLC Research), Cyndi Shein (Getty Research Institute)

Metadata helps users locate resources that meet their specific needs. But metadata also helps us to understand the data we find and helps us to evaluate what we should spend our time on. Traditionally, staff at libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) create metadata for the content they manage. However, social metadata—content contributed by users—is evolving as a way to both augment and recontextualize the content and metadata created by LAMs. Many cultural heritage institutions are interested in gaining a better understanding of social metadata and also learning how to best utilize their users’ expertise to enrich their descriptive metadata and improve their users’ experiences.

In order to facilitate this, a 21-member RLG Partners Social Metadata Working Group reviewed 76 sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums that supported such social media features as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, ratings, recommendations, lists, links to related articles, etc. In addition, working group members surveyed site managers, analyzed the survey results and discussed the factors that contribute to successful—and not so successful—use of social metadata. They also considered issues related to assessment, content, policies, technology, and vocabularies.

This report—the first of three—provides an environmental scan of the 76 sites reviewed as well as a more detailed review of 24 representative sites. The second report will provide an analysis of the results from a survey of site managers, and the third report will provide recommendations on social metadata features most relevant to libraries, archives, and museums as well as the factors contributing to success.

Download the report (.pdf: 6.10MB/174 pp.)

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