I've sure been there, too, wishing there were good ways to figure out who did what in a MARC record!

I certainly disagree with Roy very strongly--provenance is one of the things we're really REALLY going to need as we move to an environment where we'll be managing data at the statement level collected from many places. This was the sort of thing I learned to do when I was working in the NSDL project, and for this librarian, it was a complete different way of looking at data aggregation (but pretty nifty, too). 

What I learned from that experience is that, when you're going to be doing something with this data (not just displaying it to people looking at catalogs), you need to know where it came from, when it was last updated, how it was created (human or machine?), etc. Management of data at the statement level (which for those of you attending ALA Midwinter, I'll be talking about at the Cataloging Norms IG, at 10:30-noon on Saturday) isn't rocket science, but it is quite different from the closed world of library data, and definitely requires provenance information to do well.

We want to do this well, don't we?


On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 2:35 PM, Kevin M Randall <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Roy Tennant wrote:

> In all of my 37 years working in libraries I've never
> encountered a situation where it was necessary to know where the title
> came from to do useful work with bibliographic data. In what situations is this
> necessary, and why?

Okay, it looks like we've got two different meanings of "provenance" going on in this thread.  I think Kelley McGrath started out talking about "provenance" meaning WHO CREATED the metadata.  Because some of the message talked about sources of data on the resource, this got morphed into a discussion also about WHERE THE DATA APPEARED ON THE RESOURCE.

That being said, I think that *both* things are useful.  I would consider myself quite blessed if I were able to say that I've never needed to have this information through my entire career.  If we're talking about creator of the metadata, that would be very, very useful in so many situations.  In a MARC record, when there is more than one institution identified in the 040 field, there are many times I have needed to know, for example, which library changed to serial from active to ceased, or which library added a note or added entry--at the very least, so I could contact that library and determine if something I have in hand is really the same thing as what the other cataloger saw.  And if we're talking about where on the resource the data appears, that is also helpful, especially with resources having the same or similar titles, and/or bearing multiple publisher/issuing body names.

And in regard to the idea that we should "carry forward only what can be justified by real requirements from real users", I would certainly hope that we keep in mind that people who create, manipulate, and manage metadata ARE "real users"!

Kevin M. Randall
Principal Serials Cataloger
Bibliographic Services Dept.
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL  60208-2300
email: [log in to unmask]
phone: (847) 491-2939
fax:   (847) 491-4345