metadata standards and assignment #1

I really enjoyed working on our first assignment this week with Omeka. Everything went smoothly, and I suspect a big part of this is because the site is incredibly user-friendly. My collection was made up of scanned medium-format color negatives, and I had no issues with metadata input or adding items to my collection. Overall, it was a fun experience.

I kept in mind how simple it was to make a collection while doing the readings this week as well. I believe CMSs like Omeka that employ Dublin Core, though by no means perfect, bring us a little closer to a usable metadata input standard for a wider range (and therefore greater number) of information professionals. As Foulanneau and Riley stated in their article: “High-level context provided for the metadata usage guidelines will help metadata creation staff make decisions in the cases that conform to the goals and spirit of the project.” This is a really important point: that standards make things easier for staff, and in turn aid the process and objectives of a project. Although standards are important in any digitization project, I would argue that they tend to be more of an issue for smaller collections and/or ones that operate without dedicated metadata creation staff. In particular, applying standards can be extremely important for projects that rely heavily on volunteers or part-time help (such as the Wisconsin Uprising Archive). It is crucial that standards are created in these types of situations since a variety of people may be adding metadata at different times. Imagine ten people with different educational and/or technical backgrounds sitting down to create metadata for a new digital collection. It is without a doubt that each person would interpret items differently and, subsequently, enter data in different ways. Although the group may have the best of intentions, the differences in input would ultimately lead to problems in the project. It is issues like this that help to highlight the importance of standards. For various collections that don’t have the luxury of relying on specialized metadata creation staff, standards keep these types of problems from arising, and it is for these reasons (along with interoperability between institutions) that they are essential.

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5 responses to “metadata standards and assignment #1

  1. You have given a good point about the importance of standard to some projects. I find that standard is really needed for cataloging the digital images. Many volunteers and librarians are working on describing the titles and subjects of digital images in the UW libraries. Since every one has his or her own way to understand and describe things, it is really hard for librarians to manage the digital collections without the standards.

  2. Great points, spd and yiwenw – and even when there _are_ standards, there is frequently someone charged with vetting the inputted information and making corrections as needed, to make sure the metadata adheres with the project’s standards. Keely can certainly attest to this fact!

    Glad you enjoyed your work on the assignment, spd, and that you felt it connected with the readings – that’s great to hear!

  3. I could not agree more with the importance of standards. I think as librarians we likely have a preference for well-organized information. I know some of our readings may have stressed wanting more and more metadata but I believe standards have to fit the project. As you point out if a project is being built by many different individuals standards need to be easy to use and understand. I think this is even more important when working with volunteers; they can walk away at any moment so make their lives easier and don’t drive them away with difficult standards. Using Dublin Core is a great middle ground because it might be basic but it is so widely used it can easily connect to other projects or be built upon in the future.

  4. I also agree with you on the importance of standards and really clarifying what those standards are. As the Doctorow article pointed out, people will interpret things differently and this could be especially difficult with something like Dublin Core where you get to choose what information to use and what to put into those fields. To help keep consistency throughout the collection, clarified standards need to be in place.

  5. I’ll join the chorus of others agreeing with your astute observations about standards spd. I struggled somewhat some of the DC definitions and can only wonder what a volunteer who hasn’t been instructed in their use or guided to interpretive resources would think. I wish I had some more insights into how to get past this problem though. Certainly a second set of eyes, oversight, and cross checking can help, what else can we hope to do?. Great job addressing a real issue.

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