Virginia Schilling


Welcome. My name is Virginia Schilling. When I fell into a job cataloging rare books* for the English Short Title Catalog (ESTC), I felt like I had come home. I discovered that it was something that I had actually been doing my entire life. It was organizing data and it all made perfect sense and I loved it. Since then my job duties have taken me in new and interesting directions; away from the manual data entry of individual bits of metadata in the front-end of the system and into the manipulation and analysis of groups containing hundreds or thousands of bits of metadata in the back-end of the system. It is the same set of careful, painstaking tasks but on a much larger scale. I moved from Cataloger to Metadata Analyst and I just want to take a moment here and say, I LOVE this work in all its tangled, painstaking, mind-numbing, data cleanup entirety.

In library school, I discovered the magic of the Semantic Web. Discovering the Semantic Web (SW) was like discovering cataloging all over again; only this time it's cataloging on steroids. SW technologies allow resource description and information organization to be embedded in the very fabric of the Web. I could wax [bla bla bla] about this for awhile but I won't. Suffice to say that from the viewpoint of someone who likes organizing data, I find the possibilities very exciting.

So, I started out cataloging a very specific category of bibliographic resources. I learned a specific set of rules for organizing that metadata. For other projects/work tasks, I have learned and/or developed other sets of rules for organizing metadata. Any given project has a particular set of rules used to describe resources. That set of rules can be designed for cataloging books in a library or managing a thesaurus/vocabulary/ontology for online content or even for organizing and managing the online content itself.

But describing resources is about more than just learning a particular set of rules. Said rules exist in a particular conceptual context and that context will be different from project to project. It seems obvious, but I think that it worth stating explicitly: different projects have different ways of, and different requirements for, organizing metadata. The key to successfully organizing information and describing resources in a variety of domains lies in the ability to synthesize the conceptual context in each case and apply it as a concrete set of rules.

Also important to state explicitly is that describing resources and organizing information, satisfying though it be, is not an end in itself. Ultimately organizing information is about providing access to the described resources. The projects I have worked on have been about providing access to resources where it previously was limited or did not exist at all. This access in turn enables a diversity of voices and opinions to engage in the discussion. I believe strongly in the public service ideal of making resources accessible to as diverse an array of people as possible.

Looking forward, I find that my interests lie not just in the narrow definition of cataloging the bibliographic resources found in libraries but in the broader definition of describing resources and organizing information wherever they are found. In the short term I am working on enhancing my project management skills. This will allow me to apply my information organization skills to a broader range of environments. In the long term I would like to continue to work with projects that provide access via resource description and information organization, ideally utilizing Semantic Web technologies.

*Actually, this is somewhat of a misnomer as ESTC cataloging has nearly always been based on other people's reports of the rare books in their possession; sadly the ESTC itself has no rare books.


Cataloging is not Sexy

Unfortunately, I only blog sporadically. I would like to post regularly, but I have not yet managed to set up a workflow that supports this. So the blog is a little light on content.


***password protected***

I have started with the traditional resume format, we'll see where it goes from there.

MLIS E-Portfolio

MLIS E-Portfolio
***password protected***

To meet the University's culminating experience requirement, I put together an e-portfolio showcasing the competencies I had attained through San Jose's LIS program.

Current Projects

Online Professional Profile

This site itself represents one of my several ongoing projects to learn and implement new skills. This latest version features the magic of Javascript. This is just too much fun!

Resume (v. 2.0)

While I have a very nice version of my resume already set up online, I am currently experimenting with re-formatting it with CSS Grid.


I have a Github Profile set up, though there is not much there except some Python scripts for a couple of courses.


A project related to my current job duties is delving into ALTO and writing an XSLT document to format information in an ALTO document.

Future Projects

Implementing Semantic Web Technologies

This is the eternal future project. If I had the time, I would love to explore and implement some Semantic Web technologies and concepts. In my paper Embedding Semantic Markup in Web Pages, I explored the use of RDFa 1.0 in marking up some Web pages. That is so long ago now! Since my original project, we have seen the emergence of an updated version of RDFa (RDFa 1.1), an ongoing attempt to describe everything ( and a concrete expression of RDF in the form of Linked Data; not to mention SPARQL, JSON-LD, and the various conversion specs (such as GRDDL and R2RML). Given my predilection for organizing data, I would like to dig deeper into RDF, OWL, and SKOS to learn how to build ontologies and vocabularies.

Finished Projects

Re-formatting my MLIS e-Portfolio as a website

Finished in July 2012.

Creating a web version of my resume

Finished in July 2012.


Schilling, V. (2012). Transforming Library Metadata into Linked Library Data: Introduction and Review of Linked Data for the Library Community, 2003–2011. Research Topics in Cataloging & Classification. ALCTS.

Schilling, V. (2010, November). Embedding Semantic Markup in Web Pages. Library Philosophy and Practice Annual Volume 2010..

Schilling, V. (2010, Spring). The Catalogers' Revenge: Unleashing the Semantic Web. PNLA Quarterly 74(3), 9-23.

Schilling, V. (2008, Hilary). An Introduction to the English Short-Title Catalogue. Christ Church Library Newsletter 4(2), 5-6.

Contact Information and Social Media