Describing Collections and Collection Services for the BTP

Timothy W. Cole, Myung-Ja Han, Doug Moncur, Harriett E. Green

Abstract


Libraries facilitate the use of information by collating related items to create distinct, cohesive collections. As libraries have acquired and generated more digital content, the need to agree on a standard method for describing digital collections has become increasingly evident. Shared rules for collection description not only facilitate discovery; they also have the potential to facilitate the reuse of collections and collection items. In the last decade, work has focused largely on standards and practices that facilitate collection discovery and provide human-readable descriptions of collections. With the advent of projects such as the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and now the Bamboo Technology Project (BTP), there is a need to consider computer-mediated collection interoperability and computer-agent collection use as well. This requires more attention in collection descriptions to machine-actionable descriptions of collection-level services and suggests benefits possible through greater reliance on Semantic Web technologies such as the Resource Description Format (RDF). Experience from the Institute of Museum of Library Services Digital Collections and Content (IMLS DCC) project at University of Illinois also indicates that content-providers on their own typically do not produce collectionlevel descriptions that are adequate for some functions that aggregators want to deploy. This suggests that the creation of collection-level descriptions should be a collaborative enterprise. In the context of the BTP, this paper discusses the current practice of creating collection-level descriptions and introduces new developments and emerging approaches which can drive and support collection content interoperability at a more robust level.

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