Defining library resources (an object view)
With traditional libraries, the item to be cataloged is typically an individual physical entity (object) with a beginning and an end (e.g. books, newspapers, CD-ROMs, magazines, journal articles). Secondly, many of these resources have tables of contents, indexes, or abstracts to aid catalogers. Also, users understand that if a book is a textbook about a course, they will have to search through the book for a chapter on a particular topic. In the digital library, the resource to catalog is typically not a physical entity and it is difficult to define a discrete beginning and end. There is often no table of contents, index, or abstract to aid cataloging. Additionally users would like to use a search engine to take them directly to the "chapter" of the "book" in which they are interested.
This situation makes it a challenge to determine exactly what constitutes the digital resource to be cataloged (granularity). For instance, if a 15-week web course has dynamite applets and animations that can be used in several contexts, do you catalog the course as a whole and then make separate catalog entries for the applets and animations?
To solve this dilemma, first catalog individual resources by their intended use. Then for units or graphics within a resource, catalog additional metadata records if these new records will differ substantially in educational, technical or pedagogical information. So for the above example, one would first create a metadata record to describe the 15-week course. Then catalog the individual applets and animations and relate them to the metadata record describing the course.
Defining library resources (a collections view)
With traditional libraries, a group of related objects may be thought of as a collection. Often these objects are housed together and may be built around a concept (e.g., US Civil War) or a context (e.g., a map collection). Additionally, collections can also be thought of as single objects (a Civil War collection as an object in a US history collection). In the digital world, the idea of a collection is more fuzzy due to the rapid exchanges of information and the malleable nature of digital resources.
Granularity of metadata records
Last updated: 1-21-04