[openbiblio-dev] Open Metadata Handbook

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Thu Dec 15 11:00:05 UTC 2011

Thanks for your email Antoine!

On Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 10:11 AM, Antoine Isaac <aisaac at few.vu.nl> wrote:
> Thanks for the explanations. When I read your emails and the draft, my first
> reaction (a bit caricatured) was "why are they embarked on this?!?". I find
> in your mail some elements that are crucial for the understanding of all
> this, which are quite missing in the current draft--or not emphasized
> enough.

Agreed. There may be some disconnect between the original idea /
intention, and text which is in the draft. We should amend the text in
the Open Metadata Handbook accordingly. This is supposed to be a
fairly straightforward guide to tools and standards that already
exist, not a universal guide to metadata, doing all things for all

> In particular, I find it really important to focus on the requirements of
> scenarios like public domain calculation.

Yes - and for people who are interested in reusing open metadata from
cultural heritage organisations, but who may not know much about how
this is usually structured.

> Of course you may argue that if you want to promote metadata openly, which
> is a goal of OKFN, then it's better if it's interoperable. Both at technical
> and higher levels (ie., machine but also people get a chance to understand
> it).

It *would* be nice if all metadata were interoperable, but (having
worked as a librarian for a stint) that feels like a much more long
term aspiration. ;-)

OKFN's prerogative is to encourage more GLAM institutions to open up
their metadata, not to harmonise all metadata, or to tell GLAM
institutions to change the way they do things.

> The problem is that without a specific scenario, it seems a bit of ill
> attempt. Chances are high, that would you would end up just re-inventing
> Dublin Core or other things. (if you start from the bibliographic domain,
> which is again something I'd highly recommend).

Indeed. Again - we should amend the scope of the book. To be clear:
this was my idea, but I haven't been involved in drafting it. I'll try
and run through this with Primavera with your comments in mind.

> Now, if you have a need, which is no longer only "we want open metadata" but
> "we want metadata that serves open access to documents", that sounds a
> better starting point. OKFN, as the business owner of that scenario, becomes
> entitled to make recommendations. And it is then entitled to write some
> stuff about how to match these recommendations with the data as expressed
> according to the many standards around.
> I don't have the feeling that the current draft is written that way. For
> example:
> "The goal is to produce something that can be given to various GLAM [...] to
> help them set up a proper metadata model for their works."
> "The purpose of this section is to help GLAM institutions decide what is the
> best standard to use for the description of their works."

Yes. I haven't been involved in drafting, but this wording does need
to be amended!

> All this reads like you want to teach granny to suck eggs. And that won't
> help your document be appreciated in a domain which is already quite
> suffering from over-documentation and many standards.

I can certainly relate to this. Just to reiterate, it is good to have
your input!

All the best,


>> Dear Antoine,
>> Thank you so much for all of your feedback, which is really valuable.
>> We'd really like to collaborate with you on this if possible.
>> To briefly explain where the current Open Metadata Handbook is coming
>> from:
>>   * We have been working on a set of algorithms to assist people in
>> finding out whether a given work is in the public domain in their
>> jurisdiction [1]. We've been working on this for several years.
>> Europeana Connect has also done work in this area.
>>   * In order to do public domain calculation you can either do (i)
>> manual calculation (where people input relevant data to determine
>> status) or (ii) (semi-)automated calculation (where structured data
>> from a variety of sources may be used to provide data to determine
>> status). We are interested in collecting more data from more sources
>> to help with (ii). This is where we are coming from on this project.
>>   * The OKF has quite a bit of data (e.g. from BBC, from British
>> Library), and hope that when Europeana data is released under CC0
>> (next June?) then we will be able to use this as well.
>>   * The Open Metadata Handbook is intended to be a *very* preliminary
>> go at mapping metadata structures that are used by different
>> institutions, organisations and projects. We want to have a rough and
>> ready document that helps people navigate the huge amount of work that
>> has done in this area - and builds on this rather than attempting to
>> duplicate it. In the medium term this is intended to be driven by
>> practitioners in the GLAM sector who are more knowledgeable than we
>> are about different standards and different technologies.
>>   * I fully agree with you that: (i) there is hubris in trying to do a
>> 'universal metadata guide' that is all things to all people, (ii) we
>> would do well to make a guide which is accessible for and useful to
>> non-technical users, as well as non-specialists who are interested in
>> consuming open data, perhaps from a variety of different sources, who
>> know nothing about metadata standards.
>> Hence I suggest that we:
>>   * Add a note about who this intended for in a preface to the book
>>   * Go through each section with a view to making it easier for
>> non-technical people and non-experts to understand
>> We just had a very successful workshop on legal aspects of open data
>> in London last month [2], and we're planning a follow up event for
>> early next year, perhaps at the V&A. Would you be interested in
>> participating in something about metadata standards?
>> All the best,
>> Jonathan
>> [1] http://publicdomain.okfn.org/calculators/
>> [2]
>> http://blog.okfn.org/2011/11/01/open-data-in-cultural-heritage-finding-your-way-through-the-license-labyrinth-london-24th-november-2011/
>> On Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 5:42 PM, Antoine Isaac<aisaac at few.vu.nl>  wrote:
>>> Dear Primavera,
>>> Thanks for the answer!
>>> EuropeanaLibraries will produce in fact produce a deliverable this month,
>>> on
>>> their own metadata profile. Valentine Charles and Robina Clayphan (cc'ed)
>>> are involved in this, they will take care of forwarding this to you then.
>>> Depending on how this can be used in your own report or not, further
>>> collaboration may happen!
>>> I must admit I am still a bit skeptical about the scope of the Handbook,
>>> however. The idea of providing an overview on various categories of
>>> creative
>>> works is seducing, but this has been tried already. And most often, the
>>> complexity and great variety of issues at hand results in unpalatable
>>> documents, unless some drastic re-scoping has happened before.
>>> Similarly, if the Handbook is a meant to be a rather non-technical
>>> document,
>>> then you should be careful that all parts are written with this in mind.
>>> I
>>> have seen bits in the current version, for example on RDF databases,
>>> which
>>> do not really fit that goal.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Antoine
>>>> Hi Antoine,
>>>> thanks for coming back to me, and I hope you enjoyed your holiday ;)
>>>> The europeana-libraries project is a really great initiative, do you
>>>> think
>>>> they would be interested in collaborating with us? and how do you think
>>>> they
>>>> could contribute to the Open Metadata Handbook ?
>>>> As for your concerns, which I believe are shared amongst others, I will
>>>> try to provide a short explanation:
>>>> The guide is not meant to be a technical / detailled guide on how to
>>>> release open bibliographic metadata, rather, it is meant to be a simple
>>>> and
>>>> user-friendly guide that we can hand out to various GLAM institutions
>>>> who
>>>> have not yet released their metadata in an open and interroperable
>>>> format.
>>>> We do not want to provide detailled instructions, but only a document
>>>> that
>>>> can guide them into selecting the proper format / standard / or protocol
>>>> for
>>>> releasing their bibliographic data.
>>>> This is achieved by (a) providing a list of standards with their
>>>> respective advantages and drawbacks, together with a list of
>>>> institutions
>>>> that uses them (who uses what), and (b) a decision tree where different
>>>> data
>>>> providers can answer simple questions in order to find out what are
>>>> best-practices for them, in terms of exchange format and metadata
>>>> format.
>>>> The scope of the Handbook is so broad because we thought it would be
>>>> better to provide a general overview for different categories of works
>>>> and
>>>> different types of institutions, rather than a detailled set of
>>>> instructions
>>>> for only one type of work. I'm not sure if you agree with that, I'd be
>>>> happy
>>>> to hear your opinion..
>>>> Finally, as opposed to the work undertaken by e.g. the DC Library
>>>> application profile, the Open Metadata Handbook is much less technical
>>>> and
>>>> is merely an initiative aimed at encouraging GLAM institutions to
>>>> release
>>>> their data in an open and interroperable format, rather than at
>>>> providing
>>>> them with the technical specifications of the proper format to use.
>>>> I hope this clarifies your concerns a bit, please let me know what you
>>>> think about it and how you think you could help us out ! :)
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Primavera
>>>> Also, I wonder what is the specificity induced by "openness" in this
>>>> work--in other words, why would such metadata spec effort be carried out
>>>> by
>>>> the Open Biblio group. Especially, what would be the relation/difference
>>>> with work undertaken as part of say, the Dublin Core Library application
>>>> profile
>>>> (http://dublincore.org/__documents/library-application-__profile/
>>>> <http://dublincore.org/documents/library-application-profile/>) ?
>>>> On Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 6:58 PM, Antoine Isaac<aisaac at few.vu.nl
>>>> <mailto:aisaac at few.vu.nl>>  wrote:
>>>>    Dear Primavera,
>>>>    First, sorry for the delay, I was on a quite long holiday.
>>>>    Second, thanks for the ping. In fact I'm suscribed to the
>>>> openbiblio-dev list, so I was already aware of your efforts.
>>>>    And if there's room for us, we'll be gladly considering your
>>>> offer(s).
>>>> Especially, there is a Europeana-related project
>>>> (http://www.europeana-__libraries.eu/<http://www.europeana-libraries.eu/>)
>>>> that could be in position to make relevant contributions.
>>>>    However, I have to admit that I share some of the doubts that were
>>>> raised on the list recently--a reason why I did not enter the discussion
>>>> sooner. Especially, what is the aim and scope of that Open Metadata
>>>> Handbook? Addressing the realm of all creative works is a bit ambitious.
>>>> Finding an agreement on bibliographic data alone can prove difficult
>>>> enough... The introduction of the wiki is quite unclear on this:
>>>>    "The goal is to produce something that can be given to various GLAM
>>>> (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) institutions to help them
>>>> setting up a proper metadata model for their works. We want to provide
>>>> them
>>>> a few simple steps that illustrate the best practices (or second-best
>>>> practices) in terms of bibliographic metadata for each category of
>>>> works."
>>>>    Also, I wonder what is the specificity induced by "openness" in this
>>>> work--in other words, why would such metadata spec effort be carried out
>>>> by
>>>> the Open Biblio group. Especially, what would be the relation/difference
>>>> with work undertaken as part of say, the Dublin Core Library application
>>>> profile
>>>> (http://dublincore.org/__documents/library-application-__profile/
>>>> <http://dublincore.org/documents/library-application-profile/>) ?
>>>>    Cheers,
>>>>    Antoine
>>>>    PS: by the way the links to the Library Linked Data W3C group can be
>>>> updated on your wiki. It's now published at
>>>> http://www.w3.org/2005/__Incubator/lld/XGR-lld/
>>>> <http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/lld/XGR-lld/>  :-)
>>>>        Hi Antoine, Martin, Michel, Daniel, Emanuelle and Herbert
>>>>        I write to you on behalf of the Public Domain Working Group of
>>>> the
>>>> Open Knowledge Foundation.
>>>>        We are currently working on the making of the Open Metadata
>>>> Handbook - http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/__Open_Metadata_Handbook
>>>> <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Open_Metadata_Handbook>
>>>>        and we were wondering the following:
>>>>        (1) whether you or anyone else you know might be interested in
>>>> contributing to it, and if so, whether you'd like to join the
>>>> task-force;
>>>>        (2) whether you already have some work lying around that you
>>>> think
>>>> might be useful or that could even be integrated directly into the
>>>> guide,
>>>>        (3) or whether you have any kind of suggestions, ideas, or any
>>>> useful comments about it :)
>>>>        Looking forward to your replies,
>>>>        Primavera !
>>>>        ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>>>        From: *Jonathan Gray*<jonathan.gray at okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:jonathan.gray at okfn.org>  <mailto:jonathan.gray at okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:jonathan.gray at okfn.org>__>>
>>>>        Date: Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 12:42 PM
>>>>        Subject: Re: [openbiblio-dev] Bibliographic Metadata Guide is now
>>>> on Wiki !
>>>>        To: Primavera De Filippi<primavera.defilippi at okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:primavera.defilippi at okfn.org>
>>>>  <mailto:primavera.defilippi at __okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:primavera.defilippi at okfn.org>>>
>>>>        Cc: Public Domain discuss list<pd-discuss at lists.okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:pd-discuss at lists.okfn.org>  <mailto:pd-discuss at lists.okfn.__org
>>>> <mailto:pd-discuss at lists.okfn.org>>>, openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org>
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.__okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org>>
>>>>        Great start Primavera.
>>>>        Due to the breadth of this (not just books, but films, artworks,
>>>> etc)
>>>>        - what about renaming this to the Open Metadata Handbook? I think
>>>> this
>>>>        is what we originally discussed. What do you think?
>>>>        Also I'd ping Europeana Data Model (EDM) people as soon as
>>>> possible,
>>>>        if you haven't done so already. They may have existing work or
>>>> ideas
>>>>        that we might be able to build on, incorporate or at least allude
>>>> to
>>>>        and bear in mind!
>>>>        The metadata standards section [1] is epic (and scary!). ;-)
>>>>        J.
>>>>        [1]
>>>> http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/__Bibliographic_Metadata_Guide/__Metadata_Standards
>>>> <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Bibliographic_Metadata_Guide/Metadata_Standards>
>>>>        On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 3:26 PM, Primavera De Filippi
>>>>  <primavera.defilippi at okfn.org<mailto:primavera.defilippi at okfn.org>
>>>> <mailto:primavera.defilippi at __okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:primavera.defilippi at okfn.org>>>  wrote:
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  Hi all
>>>>         >  As you might already know, the Public Domain Working Group
>>>> and
>>>> the Open
>>>>         >  Bibliographic Data Working Groupof the Open Knowledge
>>>> Foundationare working
>>>>         >  on the drafting of a Bibliographic Metadata Guide.
>>>>         >  The goal is to produce something that can be hand in to
>>>> various
>>>> GLAM
>>>>         >  institutions to help them setting up a proper metadata model
>>>> for
>>>> their
>>>>         >  works.
>>>>         >  We want to provide them a few simple steps that illustrates
>>>> the
>>>> best
>>>>         >  practices (or second-best practices) in terms of
>>>> bibliographic
>>>> metadata for
>>>>         >  each category of works.
>>>>         >  The guide has now been turned into a Wikibook for easier
>>>> editing, the
>>>>         >  current draft is available here
>>>>         >  http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/__Bibliographic_Metadata_Guide
>>>> <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Bibliographic_Metadata_Guide>
>>>>         >  We would like to involve the whole community in this project,
>>>> so
>>>> please feel
>>>>         >  free to contribute it any way you like, and if you know
>>>> someone
>>>> that might
>>>>         >  be interested in contributing to this guide, please don't
>>>> hesitate to
>>>>         >  forward the link to them.
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  Main tasks which are still to be completed are:
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  - review&  add to the current minimum/complete list of core
>>>> metadata
>>>>         >  elements for literary work + provide a similar
>>>> minimum/complete
>>>> list of core
>>>>         >  metadata elements for other kinds of works
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  - review/edit the current description of metadata standards +
>>>> eventually
>>>>         >  provide some additional information concerning who uses what
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  - for the last section, produce a decision-tree, where
>>>> different
>>>> data
>>>>         >  providers can answer simple questions in order to find out
>>>> what
>>>> are
>>>>         >  best-practices for them, in terms of exchange format and
>>>> metadata format.
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  Finally, we are trying to set up a small task-force of
>>>> contributors who
>>>>         >  would be assigned specific sections or tasks. If you are
>>>> interested in
>>>>         >  joining the task force, please don't hesitate to contact me.
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  Thanks !
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>         >  _________________________________________________
>>>>         >  openbiblio-dev mailing list
>>>>         >  openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org>
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.__okfn.org
>>>> <mailto:openbiblio-dev at lists.okfn.org>>
>>>>         >  http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/__listinfo/openbiblio-dev
>>>> <http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/openbiblio-dev>
>>>>         >
>>>>         >
>>>>        --
>>>>        Jonathan Gray
>>>>        Community Coordinator
>>>>        The Open Knowledge Foundation
>>>>        http://www.okfn.org
>>>>        http://twitter.com/jwyg

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


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