Metadata priorities and focus profile: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
The Metadata standards committee spoke with Xiaoli Li (Chair Elect, PCC Policy Committee), Kate Harcourt (Former chair PCC Policy Committee), Lori Robare (Chair, PCC Policy Committee) and Matthew Haugen (Participant, Task Group on Gender in Name Authority Records). These members of the PCC spoke with MSC in October 2017 with the goal to share current work related to metadata. A critical area of exploration included questions around how the areas of diversity, inclusivity and accessibility were factoring into metadata decisions.
In their various roles in the PCC Policy Committee and in partnership with the many members of PCC, Li, Harcourt, Robare, and Haugen are responsible for advancing policy and practice of PCC.
The Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) is one of the nation’s leading standards bodies related to the cooperative cataloging and sharing of MARC-related metadata standards. The PCC’s mission is to create and refine metadata to meet specific user needs. According to their mission statement they accomplish this through advocacy, training, outreach, and best practice definition for the library community. More information about specific work is available at the PCC website at: http://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/about/.
The primary focus of the PCC is on establishing practice around cataloging standards and ensuring that the library community develops the expertise to implement these practices. As part of that, the PCC Policy Committee provides policy guidance for descriptive cataloging, especially as these policies related to metadata technologies. Working across a wide range of metadata, the PCC influences bibliographic, serial cataloging, name, authority and other similar vocabularies and classifications.
The PCC primarily works with catalogers and other organizations with an emphasis on metadata in the library community. This includes collaboration with OCLC, ALA and sub groups within both organizations. Somewhat recently PCC has explored collaboration with national projects such as LD4P, especially as these projects examine issues central to the PCC mission (e.g. a focus on standards setting and training).
PCC focus and future work
The PCC is engaged in a strategic planning process in the Fall 2017. Major issues under consideration include thinking about the “critical path” for metadata moving forward, how ontology, vocabulary and identities management is changing in a linked data world, how standards definition and management will change in an environment which is likely to be more distributed.
Two critical areas identified by the PCC include how to approach the training for and implementation of linked data and how to appropriately engage in identity management in this environment. A related issue is the natural transition from a “record-based” model under MARC to a “statement-based” model in linked data. A PCC task group was charged to study the issues surrounding work entities that emerge in various communities and to propose feasible options to advance the provision of work-level metadata: http://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/documents/PoCo-2017/WorkEntitity%20Preliminary%20White%20Paper-2017-09-27.pdf
For past few years PCC has had a group studying how to insert URIs into MARC records. This has been important work given the ongoing transition from MARC to linked data models and the expectation is that this work will facilitate migration and management of metadata across multiple schemas and encoding technologies.
Critical work in diversity, inclusion and accessibility
As the metadata world moves away from MARC standards, it is important to the PCC to explore how a broader array of vocabularies and ontologies create opportunities to represent communities and areas of emphasis in more granular ways. The PCC Task Group on Gender in Name Authorities for example found that the RDA standard originally specified three gender terms (male, female, not known). The RDA Steering Committee removed that pre-defined vocabulary in 2015, the result of an attempt to add transgender to the list of “male, female, not known.” In the absence of a set vocabulary, PCC found that there was some confusion about what catalogers should record (if anything). In response, PCC formed a task group which developed recommendations for best practices for recording gender, contained in the report https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/documents/Gender_375%20field_RecommendationReport.pdf.
In addition the report recommended other areas of focus, on guidance on how to approach the gender identification of authors including issues of perception and privacy. In the future PCC may extend this work to examine other vocabularies and how well they serve current needs.
As a standards body focused on metadata issues the PCC has invested fairly heavily in thinking around the detailed implications of shifts in vocabulary management. There are clear cases for example where community norms around the use of language to describe groups change, introducing a need for the library community to adjust its use of standards accordingly. In addition, the practice of identifying which attributes to gather about authors, people are topics itself requires consideration in relation to diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Addressing these issues is important to PCC given its focus as a group that helps metadata be more trustworthy and useful.
In recent years PCC has focused specifically on BIBFRAME with two working groups, one focused on how the BIBFRAME vocabulary could be used for cataloging monographs and another working group focused on serials. Thinking about the complex relationship between expertise, training and adoption is central to PCC’s work in the coming years.