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Metadata

Page history last edited by epfotenhauer@wils.wisc.edu 9 years, 5 months ago

Wisconsin Heritage Online's Metadata Guidelines (or Word version) offers detailed information about our recommended standards for metadata creation, consistent data entry, controlled vocabularies, and more. Or see our Metadata Quick Guide for a shorter outline of cataloging requirements.

 

See the WHO Metadata Worksheet for a chart of our required and recommended metadata elements.

 

What is Metadata? 

Metadata is broadly defined as "data about data." For our purposes, metadata simply means standardized cataloging information about original material (e.g. the title of a book or painting; the name of an author or artist) and standardized cataloging information about the digital version of that material (e.g. file format; date the image was scanned). You probably already have some metadata associated with the materials you are digitizing, but you will need to organize and standardize that metadata in specific ways in order for it to be included in Wisconsin Heritage Online.

 

Why is metadata important?

  • Findability. Metadata provides the essential framework for searching, browsing, and navigating a digital collection and allows users to locate the results they need across large, diverse repositories (such as the WHO portal). Without metadata, users cannot easily and quickly find the materials they are looking for.
  • Discoverability. Detailed metadata increases the chances that users will discover your digital materials when they are conducting searches.
  • Relationships. Metadata can document the relationships and connections among disparate materials within a collection or across collections.
  • Administration. Metadata can include technical information, such as scanning resolution, that can assist in the long-term preservation of digital images. 
  • Interoperability. Metadata that is structured according to widely-used standards can be easily migrated ("crosswalked") to other database platforms.

 

 

Organizing Metadata

The more structured and detailed the information, the more precise our searches can be.

                                                                               --"Metadata Guidelines," National Science Digital Library

 

Metadata Elements: Mandatory, Mandatory if Available/Applicable, and Optional

There are only eight metatdata elements that are MANDATORY for each item in your digital project, and eight more that are MANDATORY IF AVAILABLE OR APPLICABLE, meaning they are elements that need to be provided if the information is available to you and/or it applies to the resource you are digitizing. There are many more OPTIONAL elements that can be included if you so choose. See the WHO Metadata Worksheet for a chart of these metadata elements. You can customize your metadata to be as precise or as general as you wish. Remember that more detailed metadata can lead to better search results for users, but it may also require more time for research and data entry.

 

Dublin Core

Wisconsin Heritage Online's metadata standards are based on Dublin Core, a widely-used standard for the description of digital resources. Although you can chose your own names for your metadata categories, your local field names will need to be associated with (aka "mapped") to the appropriate Dublin Core metadata elements. For example, if your digital project consists of photographs by several known photographers, you may choose to have a local field called "Photographer." This field should be mapped to the Dublin Core element called "Creator." 

 

 

Creating Metadata 

Your organization may already have a cataloging system in place. If not, or if you wish to expand your catalog records for your digital project, these sources may be helpful.

 

 

Entering Metadata

Content Management Systems

  • CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software. If your digital collection is hosted by the Milwaukee Public Library, you can use this software program to organize your digital materials and upload them to the web. MPL will provide your organization with access to a CONTENTdm Project Client, which you will need to download and install on a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. The WHO Outreach Specialist will provide in-person training so you can learn how to customize your collection, enter metadata, and upload images. Check out our CONTENTdm wiki page to read more about this software program.
  • PastPerfect Museum Software is a content management system used by many local historical societies and small museums in Wisconsin. If your organization uses PastPerfect, we can help you export existing catalog information and import it into CONTENTdm. Check out our PastPerfect wiki page to find out more.

 

Quality Control

Consistent data entry can mean the difference between locating a digital resource and "losing" it because it cannot be retrieved by a user. Typos, extra punctuation, inconsistent abbreviations, and inconsistency in which information goes in which fields can all affect findability. For example, if records are entered with the location "WI" and a user searched for "Wisconsin," those records would not be retrieved. 

 

Encoding Schemes and Controlled Vocabularies

An encoding scheme is a standardized format for describing an aspect of a digital resource. A controlled vocabulary is a standardized list of terms and phrases used to tag units of information so they may be more easily retrieved by a search. Whenever possible, digital objects should be described using encoding schemes and controlled vocabularies. In addition to improving organization and findability, these standardized lists serve as a form of quality control. The staff or volunteers conducting data entry can choose terms from a pre-approved list rather than repeatedly type in terms by hand.

 

See the Encoding Schemes wiki page to download our recommended controlled vocabularies.

 

 

Read more about metadata standards and guidelines . . . 

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