Ruth Kitchin Tillman

Cataloging Systems and Linked Data Strategist

Penn State University

I am the Cataloging Systems and Linked Data Strategist at the Penn State University Libraries. My role spans traditional and emerging technologies from launching a new version of the Libraries’ catalog, to exploring opportunities in linked data, and otherwise supporting projects of the Cataloging and Metadata services department. I have previously worked with library repositories, as the Digital Collections Librarian at the University of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Libraries and as the Metadata Librarian at NASA Goddard. My MLS specialization is in archives, with a personal concentration on metadata and accessibility. I've self-described as a “platypus” because my career has spanned and split the worlds of librarianship and archives without being a traditional form of either and always involving various forms of metadata.

While still in school, I created EADiva.com, a beginner-friendly version of the EAD 2002 tag library. I have created an EAD3 version of the site while continuing support of the previous version. In my time as co-chair of the EAD Roundtable, I led the creation of an official FAQ. I believe in lowering barriers to understanding metadata/descriptive practices. Many people who are intimidated by something sounding technical can learn if it's presented in the proper fashion and with an assumption of their competence in other areas.



  • Master's Degree in Library Science, 2013

    University of Maryland iSchool



Cataloging Systems and Linked Data Strategist (Assistant Librarian)

Penn State University Libraries

Sep 2017 – Present State College, Pennsylvania

Engaging with the libraries discovery, cataloging, and metadata systems to promote interoperability and identify opportunities for linked data. Research interests include: maintenance of cataloging and discovery systems, contingent labor, ethics in practical cataloging and linked data work.

Responsibilities include:

  • Leading a project to improve the libraries’ discovery through the development of a new Blacklight catalog and Bento search.
  • Providing guidance on the implementation of linked data within library data projects. Leading wikidata workshops and projects within the cataloging and metadata department.
  • Engaging with library workers on additional methods of exploring and understanding our catalog data as linked data and Solr indexed data.
  • Working with campus partners to understand how their data may become more discoverable, whether through library contexts or linked data.

Digital Collections Librarian (Assistant Librarian)

Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame

Feb 2016 – Aug 2017 South Bend, Indiana

Implemented working digital collections infrastructure in CurateND, the library's institutional repository.

Accomplishments included:

  • Consulted with librarians, curators, and external stakeholders to bring collections into the library's exhibit platform and/or institutional repository.
  • Set development priorities for the library's exhibit platform and institutional repository. Exploring integrations between library systems.
  • Developed and refined metadata for load into the institutional repository.
  • Developed and maintained pipelines for dissemination of EAD finding aids from RBSC and Archives through the institutional repository and into the library's catalog and RBSC, but not Archives, site.
  • Created documentation for users and processes for the library's technical platforms.

Metadata Librarian II

Cadence Group at NASA Goddard

Jun 2014 – Jan 2016 Greenbelt, MD
Managed regular harvest and data management for the NASA Goddard Institutional Repository. Led project to create new collection of 488 digitized issues of the Goddard News, allowing researchers to access the first 40 years of Goddard's history.

Serials and Continuations Specialist

Jacob Burns Law Library

Dec 2008 – Jun 2014 Washington, DC
Oversaw handling of serials, periodicals, and continuing publications from initial receipt through delivery to shelvers. Performed 18 months of original cataloging of law journal colloquia as monograph records.


Collective Responsibility Labor Forum

Recent Presentations

Learning Cell Cross in OpenRefine

When working with spreadsheet data, sometimes you need to get data from Spreadsheet A into Spreadsheet B. Learn how to use the Cell Cross feature of OpenRefine to move data between spreadsheets by matching data points (identifiers, text, numbers, etc.). Tutorial and demo video derived from webinar held March 26, 2020.

The State of Temporary Labor: Trends and Themes from SAA's Issues and Advocacy Section + IMLS-Funded Research

Interrogating the Ethic of Care in Information Maintenance

Maintenance, Labor, and the Classic Catalog

After bringing their card catalogs online in the 90s, many libraries have maintained decades-old interfaces even as they adopt new systems focused on the discovery and use of subscription materials such as single journal articles. Though antiquated in design, such “classic catalogs” remain popular with librarians and faculty. As libraries move into a third generation of catalogs and discovery systems, those charged with leading such transitions are choosing to rethink the classic catalog or do away with it entirely.

Creating linked data converts: syncretism in the cataloging department

Download slides to view text or download PDF of slides to accompany below [Slide 1] Good afternoon, my name is Ruth Kitchin Tillman. I'm the Cataloging Systems and Linked Data Strategist at the Penn State University Libraries. In my presentation, I'm going to be talking about a project we recently completed with the Association of Religion Data Archives, a multi-institution data catalog located in Penn State's Social Science Research Institute. I want to highlight two elements of the project.

Another thing that's true about me…

XKCD comic 208, everybody stand back, I know regular expressions

Regular expression cartoon under Creative Commons NonCommercial 2.5 Generic license, original image at XKCD.com.