"Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi": A New Metadata Approach in the Third World with the eGranary Digital Library

Deborah Maron, Cliff Missen, Jane Greenberg

Abstract


Digital information can bridge age-old gaps in access to information in traditionally underserved areas of the world. However, for those unfamiliar with abundant e-resources, their early exposure to the digital world can be like "drinking from a fire hose." For these audiences, abundant metadata and findability, along with easy-to-use interfaces, are key to their early success and adoption. To hasten the creation of metadata and user interfaces, the authors are experimenting with "crowd cataloging." This report documents their work and Maron's Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi metadata pyramid model guiding a developing metadata initiative being pursued with the eGranary Digital Library, the technology used by Widernet in a global effort to ameliorate information poverty. The Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi model, with principles adapted from technical design processes, aligns with research that has shown that community-based librarians are better poised to identify culturally congruent resources, but many require significant training in metadata concepts and skills. The model has students crowdsource "lo-fi" terms, which domain experts and information professionals can curate and cull in "hi-fi" to enhance findability of resources within the eGranary while simultaneously honing their own computer, information and metadata literacies. Though the focus here is on Africa, the findings and practices can be universalized to eGranaries around the globe, if successful.