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Getting the metadata experience with Jin Xiu Guo

It might be difficult not to get technical when you're talking about digital libraries and metadata schema. After all, it's the nature of the beast.

But when we talked to metadata librarian Jin Xiu Guo (right), our conversation went in many directions, technical, non-technical, and everything in between.

Jin is our latest Info Pro-file participant. She works at the Miller Library at Washington College, Md. She also blogs at Metadata Librarian Experience. Janelle did an e-mail Q & A with her recently, which you can explore below.

You'll gain some insight in her day-to-day at Miller Library, and learn her predictions for the future of metadata schemas, digitial libraries, and social libraries. She's a true knowledge sharer at heart, and enjoys participating in SLA's Knowledge Management wiki, imparting advice to her blog readers, and staying engaged in metadata trends. Read on!

And thanks again, Jin, for sharing your story with us!

JK: Tell us a little about who you are and what you do.

JG: My name is Jin Xiu Guo. I am the Metadata Librarian at Miller Library, Washington College, Chestertown, Md. My job is to make our collections (print and electronic) accessible to our library users.

For instance, troubleshooting collection access problems, original cataloging, metadata exchange, building the institutional repository, creating electronic theses collection, and some supervisory work.

JK: What's your favorite metadata standard to use? Least favorite?

JG: I have been working with schema, such as MARC, Dublin Core, MODS, and XML. MARC has been used for decades, and it's complicated -- very useful, but not user friendly. Three years ago, I started to build an institutional repository to hold our digital collections, so I worked with Dublin Core, MODS, and XML.

These metadata schemas are Web-based and flexible. You can customize them in any way you want. I think Dublin Core will play an important role in the digital world today and tomorrow.

Through OAI-PMH, global resources sharing and semantic Web will be the trend. I like to play with all of them. For some digital collections, sometimes, you need to combine all of them, but still use basic elements as the backbone.

JK: What interested you in library science? What brought you to the Miller Library at Washington College?

JG: I used to be a scientific researcher, and worked with information all the time. I've known how to find information, but not information management. After working for nine years, I decided to go back to library school to study information science.

I was offered my current job three years ago. Miller Library provides me the best opportunity to use my expertise, so I moved to Maryland from Montreal, Quebec.

JK: What's your favorite subject?

JG: I believe it is knowledge management.

JK: You also have a blog, Metadata Librarian Experience. What do you like to write about, and why?

JG: Originally, I wrote it for myself, which is a process of learning and critical thinking. Now I consider it more like knowledge sharing. I like to write about new technologies, trends, and how to solve problems appearing in my current job, such as metadata transformation and sharing. I answer some questions on what I currently do and how to solve metadata harvesting, and so forth.

JK: Do you use any other social technologies? Which ones?

JG: Yes, I use SLA's wiki for its Knowledge Management Division, and create best practices for institutional repositories. In 2006, I used Second Life and was part of a network of cataloging librarians. I also use Facebook and Linkedln for some professional connections.

JK: What trends, news, and technologies are you following right now?

JG: I am watching metadata conversion between different schemas and repositories, content management technology, federal search, and integration of digital resources.

JK: How important do you think the trend is toward social libraries?

JG: Social libraries will become a new model of information management and sharing. The system is dynamic, and it will encourage more input from communities. Explicit knowledge will find a home.

My concern is how we will control the quality of the social knowledge network and ensure high quality information is collected. Maybe, semantic Web will be used. We also have to ensure information contributors get rewarded, which will lead to a healthy information sharing life cycle.

JK: What are some the biggest challenges you're facing today as a metadata librarian?

JG: I believe it is how to make all types of resources well-organized and easily available to users. Continuing education is another challenge. You have to balance your work time and learning time to be able to acquire new knowledge.

JK: How are you trying to overcome economic challenges?

JG: Treat it with a normal mood, and work efficiently and intelligently.

JK: What advice do you have for other librarians during these times?

JG: I would say this is the time that librarians will get more questions and be busier than other times. Be sure to be just as courteous and patient as normal days.

JK: What do you like to read, for entertainment and professionally?

JG: I like to read newspapers (The New York Times, Washington Post) and magazines (Time, Cuisine, etc.) for pleasure. I also read C&E News, library journals, blogs, list serves, RSS, etc. to track professional developments.

JK: If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?

JG: I would exercise. I don't have time to exercise every day, but if I had an extra hour, I would play badminton, do long distance running, or yoga.

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