Persistent Identifiers: Part of An Annotated Bibliography

Late in September, OCLC released Transitioning to the Next Generation of Metadata, a report which “synthesizes six years (2015-2020) of OCLC Research Library Partners Metadata Managers Focus Group discussions and what they may foretell for the “next generation of metadata.” The 56-page report discusses the ways in which metadata is evolving in the information environment, touching on concerns having to do with tools, infrastructure, and changing standards. Why is metadata changing? What is the impact on metadata creation and what does that imply for internal workflows?

Metadata continues to be a critical element of digital information infrastructure. A variety of stakeholders create it (publishers, authors, etc.) and there is an emerging spectrum of channels and containers into which that metadata must be poured. The result may be chaotic, if providers aren’t thoughtful about use.  As just one example of this, as a pull quote in the report notes, “Metadata describing the same A/V materials may differ across library, archival, and digital asset management systems.”  In an environment of linked data, emerging collective collections as well as individual library collections will be enhanced by such initiatives as the Shared Entity Management Infrastructure. With a planned completion date of December 2021, the intent is to support “easily accessible authoritative descriptions of works and persons”. 

Feedback from OCLC Research Library Partners Metadata Managers Focus Group has fueled the substance of this report which concludes with the following:

Authoritative, persistent identifiers provided by the Shared Entity Management Infrastructure will supply the needed language-neutral links to trustworthy sources. The metadata that libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions have created and will create will provide the context for these entities, as “statements” associated with those links. The impact will be global, affecting how librarians and archivists will describe the inside-out and facilitated collections, inspiring new offerings of “metadata as a service,” and influencing future staffing requirements.

The report is further supported by useful supplementary material -- specifically, an annotated bibliography. The bibliography covers blog postings from Hanging Together, segmented by topics such as linked data, persistent identifiers, identity management, and much more. 

Because of its potential interest to a NISO audience, with the permission of OCLC Research, we have reproduced the segment of that bibliography pertaining to persistent identifiers below. 


Smith-Yoshimura, Karen. 2020. Transitioning to the Next Generation of Metadata: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected OCLC Research Hanging Together Blogs. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.

Smith-Yoshimura, Karen. 2019. “‘Future Proofing’ of Cataloging.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 11 October 2019. Metadata departments need to focus on both current requirements for their metadata in the library catalog or repositories and ensuring that they look ahead to future uses of their metadata in emerging services. Our discussions focused on identifiers, which were viewed as a transition bridge from legacy and current metadata to future applications.

 ———. 2017. “How Much Metadata is Practical?” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 24 November 2017. With the increasing availability of online metadata, we are seeing metadata added to discovery environments representing objects of widely varying granularity. Ensuring optimal search results in an environment where metadata from varying sources with differing models of granularity and extensiveness poses challenges for catalogers and metadata managers. 

———. 2017. “Use Cases for Local Identifiers.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 5 May 2017. This post summarizes use cases for maintaining local authority files, the barriers to contributing local authority records to NACO or national authority files, the trade-offs of minting local identifiers, and possible alternative approaches to sharing information about entities gathered currently only on the local level.

———. 2016. “Metadata Reconciliation.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 28 September 2016. Many libraries are performing metadata reconciliation work, such as searching matching terms from linked data sources and replacing strings in metadata records with URIs or storing URIs, as a necessary first step toward the linked data environment or as part of metadata enhancement work.

 ———. 2015. “Getting Identifiers Created for Legacy Names.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 30 October 2015. The LC/NACO name authority file contains only 30% of the total names reflected in WorldCat’s bibliographic record access points. The library community has become aware of the importance of getting persistent identifiers created for all names. These identifiers are crucial for the transition to linked data. Transitioning to the Next Generation of Metadata: Annotated Bibliography 3 

———. 2015. “Persistent Identifiers for Local Collections.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 27 October 2015. Information professionals want to repurpose, present, and connect the data they have created and curated using various standards and practices. Persistent identifiers— unchanging over time and independent of where the object is or will be stored—help collections become accessible globally and can be shared and reused. This blog post summarizes the issues that need to be addressed for identifiers to be more widely adopted. 

———. 2013. “Irreconcilable Differences? Name Authority Control and Humanities Scholarship.” Hanging Together: The OCLC Research Blog, 27 March 2013. https://hangingtogether. org/?p=2621. This blog post discusses the shared values and differences between humanities scholars and librarians in dealing with names appearing in historical research. Although humanities scholars appreciate the work librarians invest in authority files, they eschew the requirement for a “preferred name” and need to know the provenance of each form of name.