Which I feel silly for not realizing. But “cataloging and metadata librarian” is a real thing, and I’m very excited about it.
The verbs providing, enriching, informing, and promoting are all included in this want ad I’ve found: all of those are generous kinds of verbs, and that makes me happy. It’s library work that helps people by means of “creation and maintenance of data.” It involves knowing all about these things and sharing that knowledge with staff and patrons alike.
Another article I’ve found, “The Roles of the Metadata Librarian in a Research Library,” says that research libraries create metadata positions to build or strengthen their digital programs. Metadata librarians can be found in many departments of the library, depending on the library’s focuses.
Metadata librarians in cataloging and tech services are involved with “acquiring, describing, and cataloging monographs and serials” and working with the metadata systems we read about; this is called the “technical services model,” and apparently librarians who fill this model are used in their departments “as a fulcrum.” They, as implied in the want ad above, facilitate and integrate; they help the others they work with and those the library serves.
The metadata librarian also serves as a go-between with the tech services unit and “the unit charged with providing access and delivery” in the library: bridging between technology and traditional library roles. Which sounds fascinating. “Collaboration,” the article says; collaboration in the library, collaboration that is “cross-institutional.” National collaboration.
Metadata librarianship also involves research and education: research particularly pertaining to “development of new initiatives within the library” and things that will facilitate that development. There is sometimes a problem integrating this into preexisting departments, because of time and staff availability, but the metadata librarian is a teacher to the others in the library as well: once new technology and applications are discovered, they are the ones to teach their coworkers about it.
Because of the collaborative nature of the metadata librarian’s work, the position should be filled by librarians and not necessarily “technician[s]” or other outside workers. “The librarian brings a shared perspective, an outward orientation, and a focus on access, with an in-depth understand of the tools and techniques necessary to its provision,” the article says. Metadata librarian jobs have “analogs” in more traditional librarian jobs; they require the certain skills that any librarian position might, an availability of information that librarians can best facilitate.
Metadata librarianship is “evolving,” the article says; I think that in a world where the presentation and availability information itself is evolving, that makes perfect sense.