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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
November/December 2009

Volume 15 Number 11/12

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on the Workshop on Harvesting Metadata - Practices and Challenges

Held September 30 2009, Corfu, Greece


László Kármán
Monguz Ltd. (Hungary)

Red Line


Although it wasn't the first occasion on which I could take part in an annual ECDL conference, this workshop, held on the island Corfu as part of the European Conference on Digital Libraries (ECDL) 2009, promised to be particularly exciting for me. Since June 2008, I have been part of a team working on the EuropeanaLocal project in a joint effort involving 27 countries. The project results and current tasks were presented to the participants of the half-day workshop being reported here. After the summer holiday it was the first opportunity for the project participants to hear first-hand project news.

EuropeanaLocal is a Best Practice Network project, funded under the eContentplus programme of the European Commission. It has been designed to involve and help local and regional libraries, museums, audio-visual archives, and other archives to make available through Europeana (the European Digital Library) the enormous amount of content that they hold.

The topics of the workshop were interesting both for the people new to the project and for currently active project members. Various issues, from the generous, Europeana-level requirements to the individual partners' actual results and difficulties, were discussed.

Mary Rowlatt (Scientific Coordinator, MDR Partners, UK) opened the workshop by introducing participants to the world of Europeana. She outlined the roots of Europeana, and helped us to see the place EuropeanaLocal holds among several related projects. She showed our project on a shared timeline with Europeana v1.0 and EuropeanaConnect, which are the two key projects of the EDL Foundation. We must use the results of these projects in order to be synchronized continuously with them. Lastly, she provided details about EuropeanaLocal, especially those about the content to be harvested, the main activities required and the aggregation that Europeana needs.

Mary's presentation was followed by one given by Robina Clayphan, Interoperability Manager, European Digital Libraries Federation. Her topics included: the current metadata scheme expected by Europeana, which is called European Semantic Elements (ESE); the transformation and normalisation tasks related to the usage of this scheme; the summary of the full tool set; and a procedure that helps content owners make their collections harvestable by Europeana. Finally, Robina spoke about the role of the aggregators and the necessity for aggregation, which is becoming a key issue concerning Europeana's sustainability and functional ability beside the growing amount of content.

The next speaker, Gordon McKenna (Collection Trust, UK) presented the results and discussed the implications of the EuropeanaLocal metadata and content survey. First he focused on the advantages of standardization, then he walked through the survey results, question-by-question, starting from the type of content owners, through the classification of the content (for example: theme, time periods, language, type, file formats, terminology). He ended his presentation by describing the metadata standards that project partners already use.

After a refreshing coffee break, Runar Bergheim (Asplan Viak, Norway) talked about the results and implications of the Skills/Technology Survey. He outlined the process of content delivery from a local repository to Europeana, and pointed to the know-how needed to store, transform and serve harvestable content with proper metadata. Then he summarized the requirements of support and training activities. He also put forth an interesting idea about Europeana and the Google search service. He said that the only way that Europeana can beat Google is by the quality of Europeana's content, on which we can build innovative services. But such quality also has costs: to make proper metadata, to do quality control and iterative harvesting, to solve multilingual problems and do semantic enrichment are much harder work than simply mirroring and indexing web pages. This proposition is thought-provoking. My opinion is that from the viewpoint of Europeana it is vital to find the aspects of interest while the content providers and the aggregators themselves generate the qualitative contents, since the work of so many content owners cannot be financed centrally over the long term.

During the final part of the workshop, three project partners presented their experiences concerning their local EuropeanaLocal projects. They included:

  • Harvesting Metadata of Greek Institutional Repositories in the Context of EuropeanaLocal, by Ioannis Trohopoulos, Alexandros Koulouris, Emmanouel Garoufallou and Rania Siatri, Veria Central Public Library, Greece
  • PIONIER Network Digital Libraries Federation - Experiences of a Large Scale Metadata Aggregator, by Cezary Mazurek and Marcin Werla, Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center, Poland
  • Kypriana: Organising the metadata harvesting of Cyprus digital libraries and collections in the frame of EDLocal, by Filippos Tsimpoglou, Vasiliki Koukonidou, Evelthon Prodromou, University of Cyprus Library, Cyprus

The workshop was closed by Mary Rowlatt, who provided a summary of the day's proceedings and led a short question and answer session. It was obvious that the workshop presentations raised a great deal of interest, because as participants walked out of the workshop room they were discussing forming into smaller groups for more talk. What's more, the lecturers and the most enthusiastic participants continued their discussions about the workshop topics into the night over a delicious dinner served with excellent Greek wines.

PowerPoint slides of the workshop presentations can be found at <

Copyright © 2009 László Kármán

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