The title is not rhetorical. I really would like to know. (I can’t think of a use case, but I don’t know if that is just me.)
A scholarly repository is not as diverse as a library collection. Libraries without question required standard “resource type” or GMD (general material designation) terms from the beginning. And when the technology embraced and declared obsolete the card catalogue, it built itself around that library standard (AACR).
The situation re scholarly repositories is different. They do not contain the diversity of types and definitions and potential confusion that libraries had to cater for. Scholarly community is a comparatively narrow one, it is a specialist area where stakeholders readily understand each other. It is not difficult an “article” in one repository to be understood as the equivalent of a “journal article” in another repository.
Another difference from the days when standards were initially established for library catalogues is that open source and proprietary technologies are already well established. And the differences in those technologies matter little for harvesting: they work.
They work because of crosswalks at the harvester level. For example, the OAIster harvester maps 365 terms to its five resource types:
See the linked PDF file (28 KB) of the OAIster mapping to the above resource types.
Ditto for the Australasian Digital Thesis harvester. Multiple Set names and specs are harvested from the different repositories but they all come out as “ADT theses”.
I can think of any number of cases where academics, librarians, department heads would want to search their own repositories for specific thesis or journal article types, those peer reviewed only, those of PhD level only, etc. But across repositories? As said in an earlier blog post, people want to find what there is on this or that or by this or that person.
- Under what circumstances would X want to limit her search to a specific resource type across repositories?
- And would this case be answered best by establishing national standards of terms?
- Or is there another solution that is more economical?
- And how would harvesters be expected to work with one nation’s standards when harvesting internationally?
- Even if a national standard of terms were agreed upon and all repositories in Australia reconfigured their systems to conform to these terms, what overall cost-benefit would be achieved?
The same repository solutions overseas will still have their own terms. They won’t change. And harvesters like OAIster will still cope with the differences in value terms as they do now.