This is something I started awhile ago, might as well finish it now.
From Diane Hillmann’s talk at Code4Lib 2011:
Catalogers don’t always know as much about their tools as they should. They tend to look for leadership from the big players and don’t invest time in understanding. Catalogers and programmers get too much into creating solutions before they understand the basic problems.
As I’d tweeted at the time (more about that tweeting thing later), I had just decided that I wanted to have this type of dialogue at my own institution. I called it “Metadata Meetups” as a shorthand for what I thought might need to be a more formal name, but so far no one has called it anything else.
I wanted to informally share my experience with this based on the first one we had, though I certainly expect to evaluate it more formally if we keep up with it. So first of all, we’ve only had one. This is a tough thing to implement mid-semester, and while I had hoped to have monthly or bi-monthly meetings, scheduling a time that will work for the most interested people is challenging. My vision is that this is a fairly informal thing, where people come when they can and don’t when they can’t. Anyone interested would be welcome–we have a library school here, so naturally our library students and faculty would participate. But hopefully IT staff and faculty from other departments would come as well, to get a sense of what types of activities we are undertaking at the library.
The first meeting was actually a month ago or so. Three people were able to come–me, our special collections librarian/archivist, and a faculty member from the library school. We chatted about the institutional repository, ongoing plans for university records management, digital collections (agreed that we would prefer to go with Omeka when the time comes), the types of skills necessary in interns, and general “trying to improve our XML” support chatter. My sense is that these conversations will only be productive if they happen on a fairly regular basis, and if they don’t become too bogged down in formality.
One excellent result is that I got to push forward some ideas I had for providing practical experiences to library students in a concrete and sustainable way–that will start this summer, and more about it in time. As we all know, sometimes a bit of serendipity is necessary to keep things moving. I hope that will be the outcome of these types of meetings–everyone shares a problem or an approach, and hopefully everyone comes away with a few ideas.