May 21, 2022

Visual Resources Association (VRA) Publishes “Cataloging and Metadata Practices Survey Report”

The report (32 pages; PDF) is published by the Survey Working Group of the Data Standards and the VRA Core Oversight Committees of the Visual Resources Association (VRA). The survey uses data submitted by 157 respondents.

From an Introductory Blog Post (via VRA Blog):

2018-03-02_10-31-56The Cataloging and Metadata Survey (fielded between February 22 and April 7, 2017), developed by the survey working group of the Visual Resources Association (VRA) Data Standards and VRA Core Oversight Committees, has been completed. The working group prepared this report summarizing the findings, conclusions, and next steps.

The survey’s main objectives were to:

  • understand the scope of cataloging and metadata practice of visual resources professionals,
  • evaluate the use and satisfaction with the VRA Core data standard, and
  • determine how the VRA can best support the needs of cataloging and metadata professionals in the future.

Direct to Full Text Report
2 pages; PDF.

Findings Listed in Executive Summary of the Report

Current practices:

  • Catalogers fill a variety of roles and titles; they were most likely to identify themselves as specialists in cataloging and metadata.
  • The majority of cataloging work is being done by library cataloging staff.
  • The majority of respondents (58 percent) perform cataloging work in higher education. When surveyed ten years ago (the VRA 2007 Professional Status Survey), 83 percent said they worked in academia. (This was a broader survey which may have included non-cataloging positions, but still points to changing employment patterns).
  • More respondents are employed in museums and archives than there were a decade ago in comparison with the 2007 survey.
  • While the majority of respondents spend most of their time on “images of works they don’t own,” i.e. images for teaching and learning; they are cataloging a wide array of material types.
  • More respondents are using home-grown systems (which include in-house programmed, Access, and Filemaker), for creation of metadata. Excel is an almost universal tool used during the workflow as well.
  • Most respondents are not embedding descriptive metadata in digital images, but 42 percent would like to do this.
  • Survey respondents are using a broad array of data standards.
  • While use of data content standards is almost universal, the majority of respondents prefer in-house guidelines, followed by CCO, RDA, AACR2 and DCRMG equally, and DACS.
  • For data schemas, respondents are using Dublin Core most frequently followed by in-house, Marc 21, VRA Core 4, and EAD.
  • Data content, data schema, and data value standards that are used vary according to the kinds of materials respondents catalog.
  • Respondents are heavily engaged in data manipulation with most converting data to other formats to allow sharing and repurposing.
  • Demand for the respondents’ services increased in all areas measured in the survey; demands for collaborative, cross-departmental projects increased the most.
  • The majority of respondents are either involved in, or interested in getting involved in, linked data or generating XML. There is less involvement and interest in migrating to RDF. (Note: this may indicate a lack of understanding about the role of RDF as a framework for Linked Open Data. Putting link references in data is only a first step.)
  • Almost half of the respondents are not now storing vocabulary acronyms, refids (record IDs) or URI links for controlled vocabulary terms in their data, but a quarter of them indicated the desire to begin doing so.
  • The majority of respondents are not downloading and storing (databasing) open content from the Web.
  • The majority of respondents believe they will need new skills in all the areas listed in the survey.

Direct to Full Text Report
2 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.