Addressing the Challenges of Describing Alternative Format Materials: A Metadata Framework to Enhance Information Accessibility of People with Disabilities

  • Lee, Seungmin (Department of Library and Information Science, Chung-Ang University)
  • Received : 2021.05.27
  • Accepted : 2021.11.01
  • Published : 2021.12.30


Library communities face many problems and limitations in describing alternative format materials based on the traditional MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC) structure. To address these problems, this research proposes an XML-based descriptive metadata framework that establishes general but fundamental bibliographic aspects of various alternative format materials by providing core elements that are essential in describing these materials. Different from existing bibliographic structures, the proposed metadata framework can represent a fundamental descriptive structure by establishing four upper-level categories, 17 core elements, and 10 sub-elements in a hierarchical structure optimized to alternative format materials. By using this principal descriptive structure, the proposed metadata framework can guide different institutions in the creation of bibliographic records for these materials in a consistent way. It is also expected to address the difficulties in describing alternative format materials in library communities and enhance the information accessibility of individuals with various types of disabilities. In addition, the proposed metadata framework is an alternative approach which functions as a mediator between heterogeneous characteristics of alternative format materials and the existing bibliographic structures in library communities.



A library is a social institution that should provide high-quality information services for all community users, including people with disabilities. Since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, there has been increasing interest in information accessibility in the library communities for people with disabilities, along with the development of various alternative format materials, including braille books, audio books, and digital versions of general books (Nail-Chiwetalu, 2000). Alternative format material is generally defined as various formats that have been developed and used to support the information activities of people with disabilities (Nail-Chiwetalu, 2000). The library communities in many countries have increased provision of alternative format materials to improve information accessibility of people with disabilities (Lee et al., 2013).[1] 

However, there remain barriers that


However, one of the problems of the DREAM database is that most of the bibliographic records were created in the KORMARC formation, which is one of the MARC formats for library collections in South Korea. Because of the fundamental limitations of the MARC format, the records contained in the database may describe only a few, but essential, bibliographic aspects of these materials, which may result in too-simple and incomplete resource description. Fig. 1 shows a bibliographic record in the DREAM database using the KORMARC format.




Fig. 1. KORMARC (Korean Machine Readable Cataloging) record for an alternative format material.




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