Metadata helps users locate resources that meet their specific needs. But metadata also helps us both to understand the data we find and to evaluate what we should spend our time on.
Traditionally, staff at libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) create metadata for the content they manage. However, social metadata—content contributed by users—is evolving as a way to both augment and recontexutalize the content and metadata created by LAMs. Enriching LAM metadata improves the quality and relevancy of users’ search results and helps people to understand and to evaluate the content better. The cultural heritage organizations in the RLG Partnership were eager to expand their reach into user communities and to take advantage of users’ expertise to enrich their descriptive metadata. In 2009-2010, a 21-member RLG Partner Social Metadata Working Group from five countries reviewed 76 sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums that supported such social media features as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, recommendations, ratings, lists, links to related articles, etc.
Part 1: Site Reviews. An environmental scan of sites and third-party hosted social media sites relevant to libraries, archives, and museums (Smith-Yoshimura and Shein 2011b).
Part 2: Survey Analysis. Analysis of the results from a survey of site managers conducted in October–November 2009. The survey focused on the motivations for creating a site, moderation policies, staffing and site management, technologies used, and criteria for assessing success (Smith-Yoshimura et al. 2011).
Part 3: Recommendations and Readings. Recommendations on social metadata features most relevant to libraries, archives, and museums and an annotated reading list of resources referenced during our research (Smith-Yoshimura and Holley 2012).