The Open Library team is lucky to work with Karen Coyle, our resident metadata czar.
Karen recently completed an article called Understanding the Semantic Web: bibliographic data and metadata. The full article is issued in Library Technology Reports, v. 46, Issue 1, January 2010, which you can purchase, but there’s also a PDF chapter online:
Library Data in a Modern Context (PDF, ~500KB)
This chapter of “Understanding the Semantic Web: Bibliographic Data and Metadata” explores the history of library data and where it stands in a modern context. The rise of a new information environment—the World Wide Web—has revealed the downside of the long history that libraries have with metadata. The question that we must face, and that we must face sooner rather than later, is how we can best transform our data so that it can become part of the dominant information environment that is the Web.
We’re hoping that Open Library will be an instantiation of the ideas that Karen describes in her article, particularly around topic search and the idea of creating a web of data around books.