A teacher librarian's learning journey

The future of metadata and content-based information retrieval October 17, 2013

Filed under: ETL505 Bibliographic Standards in Education — Jennifer Baccon @ 1:37 am


  • Extent of metadata use in the future? (Prevalence of content-based retrieval)
  • Kinds of metadata in future information environments?
  • Who will create and manage?
  • Value given to such data?
  • Sharing of metadata across systems?
  • Standardisation of metadata?

Three approaches:

1) Computer use to analyse content of resource re. relevance to user need. Bypassing metadata

2) Web 2.0:  Provision of metadata by end users, contributors, and authors

3) Traditional approach: organisation and description by information professionals

Approach reflective of varying perspectives on the nature of the info resources:

  • Resource contains a message viewed objectively (no reference to creator or end-user) Content-based retrieval systems
  • Resource analysed according to intended (creator) meaning Metadata from authors and publishers
  • Resource analysed according to its utility User-generated metadata

Any of the 3 may be adopted by info professionals.

Ideally creating a “bridge” between user and user – addressing gaps perhaps in both user and author understanding of the resource

Information retirieval – computer processing content focus whilst info organisation has developed tools/standards with reference to content and carriers, authiors and users

Info organisation traditions prior to ‘info retrieval’ mentality:

1) Library cataloguing (collection and warrant focus) eg. products – AACR, LCSH

2) ‘Documentation’ tradition (vocabularies combining literary and user warrant) eg. products – UDC (Universal Decimal Classification), thesaurofacet

  • Merging of these traditions evident

Content-based information retrieval

  • Need to consider benefits for ease of use (eg. Google and other search engines) in comparison to traditional approaches
  • Is metadata even useful anymore? Development of content searching…
  • Under ‘Google- like’ search engines however, metadata is still important but always?


  • Computers can process lots thorouighly, consistently and rapidly
  • Computer often retrieve the actual resource itself, cost less than info professionals, scalable and accommodating of additional resources
  • Keyword searching producing results equal or better than those based on metadata/controlled vocab.


  • Only so much a computer can do however
  • Content-based systems difficulty with verbal info.
  • Content-based less effective if user is unsure of their informational need
  • Problems too automatic summarisation
  • Very little evidence that computers can out perform in intellectual task contexts eg. indexing, abstracting, thesaurus construction, creation of search strategies
  • Computers not able to create structured overviews of collections
  • Content-based retrieval systems good at finding and obtaining but not selecting and navigating
  • Computers can not draw on external world knowledge – unable to build logical knowledge structures

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