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Editorial Introduction to Issue 38: The Quality of Metadata Is Not Strained

Richard Waller introduces Ariadne issue 38.

At a time when long-running institutions such as Ariadne are understandably mindful of their independence [1], the decision not to persist in the editorial inclination to lead on articles slightly at a tangent to the main thrust of Ariadne’s work might be considered craven. However, under any other circumstances it might justifiably have been considered perverse and hence I begin by drawing your attention to the article by Marieke Guy, Andy Powell and Michael Day. In proffering suggestions for Improving the Quality of Metadata in Eprint Archives they take us away from considerations of the cultural and institutional barriers to self-archiving which have restricted the proliferation of eprint archives in the UK and concentrate on ways to ensure that the metadata created is of a standard that supports service providers in meeting the needs of their end-users. Although they consider in passing the usefulness of current metadata creation tools, they prefer to emphasise the effectiveness of clear user requirements, careful assessment and objective judgement of the existing eprint archive metadata and their ability to satisfy the aforementioned users’ requirements. Therefore functionally correct metadata will not be strained but evolve naturally from their approach to its creation. Failure to adhere to an effective quality assurance cycle and the concept of interoperability may lead to a ‘collision’ of metadata formats that is waiting to happen.

Meanwhile Ed Summers takes us from metadata creation to harvesting in Building OAI-PMH Harvesters with Net::OAI::Harvester in which he describes this Perl package for easy interaction with OAI-PMH repositories and gives examples of the relative ease with which it is possible to write short programs that will carry out each of the six verbs associated with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Ed maintains that while not for the light-hearted, itis also possible to extend the package to work with any XML-based metadata format. On a parallel tack we learn from Britta Woldering that the OAI-PMH has turned out to be the protocol of choice for The European Library where it was used to by the Library for the harvesting of metadata for the central index of resources that were not available through Z39.50. Britta takes us from the rationale of the TEL Project through its aims to its conclusions, and happily, its future work now that the actual project period has terminated. Of particular interest is the problem that the Project was formed to solve: how to overcome the difficulties posed by the heterogenous nature of access to data in respect of partner libraries right across Europe. Britta’s description of metadata development and the overall technical solution in this project will be of interest.

Ever keen to see topics raised in one issue revisited in another, I can advise readers who appreciated William Nixon’s piece in issue 37 on DAEDALUS: Initial experiences with EPrints and DSpace may very well do the same with Richard Jones ‘ article on DSpace vs. ETD-db: Choosing software to manage electronic theses and dissertations - I will not steal his thunder by writing about his conclusions.

For those not conversant with its work, the 599 Programme would perhaps mean very little, but Rachel Bruce and Balviar Notay are able to give us a better answer than most to The JISC 599 Programme: What’s in a number?. They examine what might be termed the programme’s identity crisis and its causes and comment on many of the projects which have developed through the programme into much greater things. They measure its effectiveness against the benchmark implied by Chris Rusbridge in the 599 circular: ‘consistent access to the widest range of stuff’.

Of particular note to colleagues working in the Further Education sector, it has been possible to offer not only a lead article from Mark Williams on What the Resource Discovery Network is Doing for Further Education but also supplementary and parallel articles from each of the RDN hubs who describe what their particiular subject service has on offer.

We are also fortunate to have articles from Tracey Stanley, Mina Sotiriou and Matthew Dovey on The Portole Project: Supporting e-learning and Alastair Dunning, who explains how The AHDS is Evolving.

Once again I am indebted to the writers of our regular columns and equally to those of another large crop of at the Event articles.

With another hat on I am also keen to direct you to a pair of articles on accessibility issues which most certainly repay careful reading: How Accessible Are Australian University Web Sites? by Dey Alexander and Developing and Publicising a Workable Accessibility Strategy by Lawrie Phipps, Sue Harrison, David Sloan and Betty Willder represent a wealth of of useful information on this increasingly important topic.

All the above of course supported by contributions from Web Focus and an expanded Newsline section followed by three further reviews of books of possible interest to our readers.

Once again this issue comes to you thanks to the commitment of its authors together with support from colleagues at UKOLN, in particular Shirley Keane for her work on the news section. I hope you will enjoy it.


  1. ‘Hutton will affect BBC charter’, BBCi News, 30 January, 2004,

Author Details

Richard Waller
Ariadne Editor

Email: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/

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Editorial: “Editorial Introduction to Ariadne Issue 38: The Quality of Metadata Is Not Strained”
Author: Richard Waller
Publication Date: 30-January-2004
Publication: Ariadne Issue 38
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk /issue38/editorial/