Metadata Automation: The Current Landscape and Future Developments

  • Marlee Graser Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Melissa Burel Alabama A&M University
Keywords: automation, metadata, metadata workflows, library profession, Automatic Image Annotation (AIA)


As a profession, librarians are already seeing the ways in which automation is challenging traditional methods of cataloging and raising questions about the future of manual cataloging work. Workflows for metadata creation—from the most basic to those involving data scraping, harvesting from APIs, and data migration and manipulation—indicate a shift from a cataloger’s traditional role of metadata creation to technologically-oriented metadata harvesting and management. Additional new technologies, like deep learning computation, are beginning to address the call for automated metadata creation for visual resources, reinforcing this shift and creating new opportunities for innovative workflows and description. New technologies have the potential to profoundly impact the ways that libraries ready themselves and their data for the semantic-web environment and redefine cataloging work moving forward. Will these further automation advances really change the role of the metadata librarian? This article argues that the continued escalation of automation and linked data in the semantic web will only be a continuation of metadata librarians’ current technological skills and commitment to data quality control.

Author Biographies

Marlee Graser, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Marlee Graser received her MSLIS from the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana in 2014. She is currently serving as the Metadata Librarian at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where she enjoys researching ways to enhance the library's role as a nexus of learning and develop the library as a service center for students, faculty, and the community.

Melissa Burel, Alabama A&M University

Melissa Burel is the Metadata Cataloging Librarian at Alabama A&M University. She received her MLIS in 2012 from Wayne State University and her MM in 2008 from Western Michigan University. Her professional interests include user-needs assessment, data analysis, and the organization of information.