Online catalogs make it possible to find specific materials from anywhere in the world— but what happens when an item doesn’t have its full title in its catalog metadata? (How would you find The Great Gatsby, if the title was just “The” in the catalog? You might try searching for terms like “Great” and “Gatsby,” but the book would probably not be in the search results, if it were mis-catalogued with an abbreviated title.)
Last week, a researcher asked if the Burke Library held something very specific: the Gebetsanliegen der Canton-Blinden-Mission from 1921-22. (The Burke Library provides access to the collections of the former Missionary Research Library, a large repository of mission-related documents, files, and correspondence; this seemed like something likely to be part of our Special Collections.)
I tried to find this item in the CLIO Catalog, with various combinations of the terms in the title — like Gebetsanliegen Canton Blinden Mission, plus various configurations of hyphens — but with no success. I wrote to the rest of the Burke staff asking if my colleagues could help. Myong Jin, Collections Assistant at the Burke, pointed out that she was able to find it by searching simply for the word “Gebetsanliegen” (German for “prayer requests.”)
There it was! But it had a surprisingly sparse catalog record:
The title was simply displayed as “Gebetsanliegen.” No author, no place of publication. The words “Canton Blinden Mission” weren’t in the catalog record at all. All it had was the years 1921-22. (Searching the catalog, with additional words like “Canton Blinden Mission” — not present in the metadata — wouldn’t turn up this record. That’s why we couldn’t find it before.) Staff contacted the researcher, who confirmed this was likely the item she needed for research. The Burke staff was able to provide access to low-resolution reference scans.
Best of all, we were able to pass along details from the researcher to the cataloging staff, so the record can be updated with additional details to reflect this item’s full title and publication information. We reflected on the fact that there are probably lots more records like this, buried in the catalog, just waiting for the right researcher to find them and point them out. -CB
4 thoughts on ““Gebetsanliegen” in the Catalog: a Metadata Mystery”
Pingback: Day in Review (May 17–20, 2021) - Association of Research Libraries
Really great and useful post.
In this webinar covers some of the general challenges organizations face in metadata management, specific challenges of data catalogs that support analytics . So, trying out Weinberger’s ideas, I search in local library catalogs for david weinberger metadata.
I actually wish to read meaningful blogposts from well written websites such as yours.
I actually strongly assume that your question is some how! Even though, as a blogger, I actually correctly understand why you chose to find out question. I have always said this to my friends not all bloggers are writers! You are a writer and that is why you are considering knowing how subscribers have been able to employ the information they received here. Your articles are good. Your issues are good too. I use long gone through some of them so far. I need to concede, I have gained just one thing. No knowledge is a waste in any way. We learn new things everyday. I actually think I will have to gauge my contents too from my readers soonest. hey, I learnt that a person too! You have made me see another side of a true writer: to be considering how your readers are utilizing your contents. Of which is great. Thank you. Great contents once again. I have a blog too, kindly visit and i also will appreciate it.