While doing some reading for a little talk my colleague, Ed Summers, and I are giving at code4lib 2009, I came across a paragraph that sparked a crazy thought. So crazy that it’s not crazy at all. So not crazy that I am sure other people have thought of it. But nonetheless, here I am writing about it just in case.

From Sarah Currier’s paper on SWORD (emphasis mine):<blockquote>One of the most frequently cited barriers to academics depositing their teaching materials into repositories is the keystroke-count involved in logging into a repository, uploading the resource, creating metadata, perhaps selecting a licence, and publishing the resource. It was a quick win, therefore, to create a drag-and-drop desktop tool to allow a single keystroke deposit of resources, including multiple resources in one action. For a repository that supports automatic metadata generation, administrative metadata can be created at the point of entry to the repository without the user needing to create any.</blockquote>

And I wondered how many repositories supported automatic metadata generation. I wondered how many repositories supported automatic generation of rich metadata. And lastly I wondered, might this be a more or less natural role for catalogers: augmenting stub metadata records or doing original cataloging for institutional repository deposits? Especially at a time when many of them are being reclassified as acquisitions specialists or digital projects managers?

Potential issues and questions:<ul> <li>Author ignorance: Maybe catalogers are already doing this and I’m a moron?</li> <li>Scale: Is it realistic to expect to be able to “keep up” with repository deposits?</li> <li>Granularity: Does cataloging at the level of articles, and perhaps at even finer granularities, introduce challenges?</li> <li>Duplication: If pre-prints are cataloged in the IR, for instance, will they need to be cataloged again later?</li> <li>… there are others I thought of on my commute this morning but have since forgotten them. Feel free to add comments.</li> </ul>

I will admit here that I’ve been somewhat out of the (academic) institutional repository space a while, and cataloging is something I don’t share thoughts about very often because my exposure is limited to having taken one course a couple years ago.

I assume there’s a body of research about this out there somewhere but I figured I’d post this anyway.