As an intern at both a cataloging and a digital collections departments, I have a good understanding of how catalogers can easily transition to digital collections. Applying metadata elements in a given schema is very similar to how a cataloger would enter RDA elements in a MaRC “schema.” Boydston and Leysen considered that “[m]etadata creation is a natural extension of the catalogers’ existing skills, abilities, and knowledge” (as cited in Diao, 2014, p. 131). Catalogers have a theoretical understanding of how items are more discoverable with data entered as associated searchable verbiage and would take up this mantle for their users.
According to Diao’s article (2014), several items are taken into consideration by catalogers when entering metadata. The quality of the metadata is paramount, needing qualified creators to prevent missing, incorrect or insufficient data as measured by its completeness, accuracy, and consistency of both data entered and elements chosen for the item type. The quality would also need to be controlled using subject and name authorities. The controlled vocabulary would also achieve interoperability when sharing records or linking data among digital libraries, though the popularity of batch editing metadata make these controls problematic.
When catalogers and curators discussed their work on the same digital project, these personnel with two different styles of recording data had to make concessions. Diao saw that catalogers learned to understand and respect curators’ approaches to describing museum objects while curators learned and accepted AACR2 as the standard to construct authoritative and standardized artists’ names and title heading (2014, p. 137). Both were able to see the strength of the other’s methods and produced a better procedure in the end.
In a world where cataloging is not as respected as years gone by, it is nice to see that a cataloger’s potential is beheld and seriously considered when working with digital objects and their metadata. Hearing the perspectives from both a cataloger and archivist on digital projects benefits both parties as they learn from each other for the betterment of the collections and the findability thereof.