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Metadata Policy, Strategy, Use and Sharing Advisory Group (MUSAG)

Completed June 2019 

HathiTrust gathers and maintains a variety of metadata and has evolved a general set of policies and practices over time for how this metadata is managed and shared, providing open access to its metadata in all cases where legal and privacy restrictions allow. This advisory group reports to the Program Steering Committee and was charged with reviewing managed metadata, formulating relevant policy and strategic directions to benefit the members. 


MUSAG leveraged a strong mix of deep expertise from the HathiTrust membership with strong, knowledgeable representation from HathiTrust Operations, and (through Tim Cole) the HathiTrust Research Center.

Key accomplishments:

  • Environmental Scan and Development Priorities: Performed an extensive environmental scan of the HT metadata ecosystem. Worked to leverage this scan and explore with stakeholders what priority and sequence should be assigned to addressing the issues and opportunities identified by the scan. 

  • Metadata Sharing Policy Development: The initial phase of this work developed an extensive taxonomy of different kinds of metadata beyond the familiar bibliographic metadata. These metadata types included: 

  1. Bibliographic metadata
  2. Rights metadata
  3. US federal document status metadata
  4. Print holdings metadata
  5. Shared print metadata
  6. METS format metadata
  7. Copyright review determination data
  8. HathiTrust Collection Builder metadata
  9. HTRC Workset Builder metadata
  10. HTRC Extracted features metadata
  11. Market availability metadata
  • MUSAG ultimately devised one framework policy expressing HathiTrust's commitment to open metadata sharing, and plans a series of policies addressing the specific contingent factors driving sharing for each type of metadata.
  • Charge (2015)

    In collaboration with the Zephir Advisory Group (ZAG) and PSC, MUSAG drafts and recommends reviewing managed metadata, formulating relevant policy and strategic directions:​

    • Maintenance and enhancement – HathiTrust’s current bibliographic metadata correction policy relies on individual partners to maintain and enhance the bibliographic metadata corresponding to their works in the corpus – critical updates are made centrally (e.g. those involving rights), but corrections are not made to partner records themselves. Should HathiTrust be more proactive about correcting and enhancing bibliographic metadata, especially where algorithmic or bulk operations can be employed, e.g., by including authority data elements such as author death dates from trusted authority data providers such as OCLC’s VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) and LCNAF (Library of Congress Name Authority File)? 
    • Metadata impact – Accuracy, quality, and completeness of metadata have an obvious impact on users’ ability to discover and evaluate HathiTrust collections. These same qualities affect services in less obvious ways: in making accurate rights determinations; in detecting (and connecting) duplicates; in creating data sets for analysis through the HathiTrust Research Center; in accurately matching members’ holdings data with the HathiTrust collection. What measures to improve HathiTrust metadata would have the greatest impact on services? What central staffing or action by members will be needed to support this work? What partnerships, automated techniques (such as use of linked data) can be used to advantage? 
    • Metadata integration – Could HathiTrust benefit from increased integration of its various metadata initiatives? Are there additional services that could be supported through a more integrated approach?

    While MUSAG is responsible for helping set strategic direction it needs to coordinate closely with ZAG. ZAG responsibility is policies and procedures to address operational considerations. It is crucial that both groups be in close coordination and develop a shared understanding and goals.

    The HathiTrust Executive Director or its designate approves or rejects recommendations made by the MUSAG.

    Expected Deliverables

    The MUSAG is responsible for documenting its activities, including meeting agendas, meeting minutes, recommendations and outcomes.​

    Initial priorities should include, but not be limited to:

    • Develop an environmental scan of metadata related services, systems and policies related to the HathiTrust for the purpose of understanding MD issues and identifying gaps relating to record connectivity and policy.
    • Advise on the need to detect duplicates in the collection and recommend methods for doing so if the group believes the need is sufficiently acute.
    • Recommend policies and possible approaches for efficient management and strategic deployment of metadata across HathiTrust initiatives.
    • Identify situations in which HathiTrust should systematically correct bibliographic metadata and recommend policy surrounding corrections.
    • Develop a formal policy to clarify the conditions under which HathiTrust metadata can be shared and re-used.

    Reporting and Communication 

    The MUSAG submits a brief activity report every three months to the PSC. The MUSAG Chair will manage communications with the PSC and is expected to raise issues that need immediate resolution to the PSC Convener as needed.​ 

    Membership and Terms of Appointment

    The MUSAG includes up to nine members who bring perspectives from across the HathiTrust partnership. Each member is selected for both expertise and ability to represent HathiTrust services affected by or affecting metadata management. Representatives of both the ZAG and HathiTrust Repository Manager are included to represent additional operational perspectives. 

    All appointments are to two-year terms and the Program Steering Committee will select membership. 

    This charge is for a two-year period. The Program Steering Committee should revisit the charge for review and updating at the conclusion of each two-year term.


    • Sever Bordeianu, University of New Mexico
    • Tim Cole, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, co-chair
    • Kristina Eden, HathiTrust
    • Valerie Glenn, HathiTrust
    • Todd Grappone, UCLA, co-chair
    • Joseph Hafner, McGill University
    • Stephen Hearn, University of Minnesota, co-chair
    • Sandra McIntyre, HathiTrust 
    • Angelina Zaytsev, HathiTrust