What It Is, and Why It's Important
The library community and its allied partners have provided at least one definition for metadata for their respective communities. Here are a couple of examples:
- "A characterization or description documenting the identification, management, nature, use, or location of information resources (data)." [The Society of American Archivists' A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology]
- "Metadata is structured, encoded data that describe characeristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment, and management of the described entities." [ALA Task Force on Metadata, 1999]
To meet specific needs of a community or collection, a set of metadata elements (tags) known collectively as a schema is created that will neet the requirements.
Common charactertistics of metadata schemas:
- a limited number of elements
- the name of the element
- the definition of the element
- element's criteria
The University of Alabama Digital Collections are cultural heritage collections. Elements in schemas for cultural heritage materials have broad definitions and criteria so institutions may narrow definitions and set criteria to meet their needs.
Metadata schemas for the cultural heritage items include the CDP Metadata Working Group's [Dublin Core Metadata Best PracticesWestern Best Practices]. Mandatory elements include: title, creator (if available), subject, description, date digital, date orginal (if applicable), format, digitization specifications, resource identifier, and rights management.
With a primary metadata schema in place, other elements may be added to meet the needs of the collection. The elements may be added and/or borrowed from another schema.
Fields unique to our collections include "Donor" and "Funder" mapped to dc.Publisher. These terms are from the MARC relator codes, http://www.loc.gov/marc/relators/relaterm.html
Defintions from MARC Code List: Relator Codes --Term Sequence
- Donor defined as "use for person or orgainzation who is the donor of a book, manuscript, etc., to its present owner. Donors to previous owners are designated as Former owner or Inscriber."
- Funder defined as "use for a person or organization that furnished financial support for the production of the work."
Metadata functions are grouped in three broad types by function. The types may be represented by an element in schema or a schema may be dedicated to the function.
- Descriptive metadata This is the most common type of metadata, the one that most people have used. It is data that describes and identifies digital objects whether they were orginally physical artifacts or born digitally.
- Administrative metadata It is used to manage and administer. It is an umbrella term for the following:
- Structural metadata orders records with their images in a flat or hierarchical relationship that is necessary for viewing the material.
Our chosen metadata schemes (why and for what) Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
Procedures and Policies
- If it is a photo collection, and it has been processed by one of Marina’s students, copy the information from the info sheets in his/her binder.
- If it is an unprocessed photo collection or some other type of collection, and you are writing metadata
- Never abbreviate, especially states and months.
- Do not use periods at the end of fields (except it is okay in ‘Notes’ field, because that information is administrative metadata only, not to be used in the final metadata
- Be consistent with your terminology in descriptions and titles; for instance, if you start using “railroad track” don’t switch over to “train track”
- Don’t be afraid to take a second and look up information online, such as hunting down the county appropriate to a city (especially for Alabama counties; this is less important for large cities out of state) or confirming the spelling of a proper noun (like the name of a well-known person or a place name)
Guidelines by Collection Type
Digital Collection Title
We are currently using the title of the actual physical collection, which can be found on the box you’re working from and its folders. Please use the full name, rather than the abbreviated version we use for our file system. Examples: Josiah and Amelia Gayle Gorgas Family Papers; Jefferson Jackson Coleman photo collection.
Number Hoole has assigned to the album. If there is only one, it is album number one. Album numbers are given consecutively and in the following format: (four-digit year).(three-digit collection number).(three-digit album number). Example: 2008.001.001. Note: The first two sets of numbers will be the same as the first two sets of numbers for the image identifier.
Number Hoole has assigned to the image. Album numbers are given consecutively and in the following format: (four-digit year).(three-digit collection number).(six-digit image number). Example: 2008.004.000098. If numbering photographs yourself, number them in order, padding the number from the left with enough zeroes to fill it out to six digits.
Title of image.
Description of image.
Cities, counties, and states maybe be known for the whole collection, may be given on back of photo, or maybe be inferred because location of photo matches that of another with city/county/state given on back. In general, fill in if known or possible to determine given what you do know. If unknown or impossible to determine, leave blank.
- City: Where photograph was taken. Fill in if known. If not, leave blank.
- County: Where photograph was taken. Fill in if known. If city other type of locatable location (such as a state park) given but no county, look up county online. If no city or other location given, leave blank. Do not abbreviate name or include the word County or Co.
- State: Where photograph was taken. Fill in if known. If city/county/location given and you don’t know what state it’s in, look it up online. Do not abbreviate state names. For example, Alabama, not AL or Ala.
Date or Year
When photograph was taken. Always give in the format Year Month Day. Always give year in four digits (1976, not ’76). Never abbreviate month (January, not Jan.). If specific month or day unknown, simply leave them off. If given a span of years, list them with a hyphen between; example: 1898-1899.
- 1914 March 12.
- 1914 March.
The image’s photographer, or sometimes simply the person who collected and/or donated the collection. Leave blank for Marina to determine later.
The type of processing on the photograph. Leave blank for Marina to determine later.
Whether the photograph is enclosed in a case. Fill in with yes or no. Chances are, if you are doing your own metadata as you process a collection, it will be a collection that does not include case photographs, so the whole column will be filled with none.
Dimensions of the case, if there is one. If there are no case photographs (if your whole Case Present field is filled with none), you may delete this column or simple leave the field blank.
What type of mount is the photograph on, if any. If it is not a mounted photograph, enter none. If photograph is included in an album, enter album. For other types of mounts—carte de visite, cabinet cards, or stereocards (all of which are heavy and stiff, like cardboard—see Marina or one of her photo students to help you determine which.
Whether the photo is color or black and white. Fill in with yes or no.
Whether the photo is positive or negative in polarity. Fill in with positive (for regular photos) or negative (for negatives). If you enter negative, list the type (see Marina or perhaps Jeremiah to determine this).
Dimensions of image. Measure in inches to the 1/16 and give as height x width. Example: 3 3/4 x 7 1/8.
Dimensions of image. Measure in inches to the 1/16 and give as height x width. Example: 3 3/4 x 7 1/8. If there are no mounted photographs in your collection, you may delete this field.
Transcribe any information written on the front or back of the photo so that anyone working on the metadata might have access to that information.