A (very) brief metadata tutorial
Sixteen Tons is finally starting to see some life. Unfortunately, most of this is in the form of massive chaos as I continue upload item after item into my digital repository. I’ve decided that, before I can even begin to think about the organization of the website, I need to place my items into my Omeka site and then begin the process of sorting and organizing. Ideally, I’d like to complete this first step by May so that I can then work on the organization of my website during the summer.
When I add a new item to my Omeka site, the first thing I do is begin to fill out the metadata boxes. Omeka uses Dublin Core (DC) standard – it’s complete enough to accurately describe various materials but simple enough for people to use who do not possess an LIS degree. Some of the boxes I filled in were obvious and included title, subject, and description:
Other boxes such as, creator, publisher, contributor, ect. were a bit more confusing and certainly open to interpretation. Consistency and professionalism were important parts of this project, so I sought out some metadata advice and ended up with some useful suggestions.
Catherine Foley is a digital librarian at Matrix and was kind enough to sit down to help with my metadata dilemma. DC has an element set that provides definitions and descriptions for each term name (publisher, contributor, creator, etc.). The element set provides DC users with a basic standardization that still provides some flexibility for interpretation. Because consistency is key for my project, I’m taking a tip from Catherine and creating a table that lists each term name that I am choosing to use in my project and provides my own additional comments aside from DC’s general definition. “Publisher,” for instance, is something DC defines as “an entity responsible for making the resource available.” For my specific purpose “publisher” will be the entity responsible for digitizing the resource – in most cases, myself.
A completed metadata set for my own project will look like this:
The consistency is useful for people that may stumble upon my website and wish to use or revisit the sources I have digitized. For myself, this type of organization is also extremely helpful. Entering the metadata now will allow me to keep my archival material organized if I choose to switch platforms or use these sources elsewhere. This is an excellent alternative to just jotting down the citations in my dissertation notebooks.