Editor’s note: members of Digital Commonwealth’s Outreach Committee organized a metadata work party for Digital Commonwealth members. Digital Commonwealth would like to thank
- the Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge, Mass., for hosting the event
- the staff from the Boston Public Library (Digital Commonwealth’s technology partner) for providing excellent metadata instruction in a friendly manner
- the participants, including Carol Kelly, who kindly offered to summarize the event in this blog post.
Additional metadata work parties will be scheduled in the future. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If the term “metadata work party” doesn’t excite you then you’d want to skip this workshop. But if you’re like me and already elbow-deep in digitization, sort of learning new skills as you go and hoping you’re getting it right – this was the place for you. We understood that the Digital Commonwealth folks were piloting this program with us and planning on offering more of this sort of thing so it’s worth a short critique….it was great. Does that seem a little too non-evaluative? Let me add details.
The introduction helped me get a clearer grasp of what the Digital Commonwealth (DC) is doing and how they’ll harvest the metadata we develop in our individual projects. I was especially interested in understanding that the DC can host the metadata for a collection that our home libraries may keep on their server or host the actual collection. We also were reminded that the DC will assist in digitization but that we need to provide the metadata. Then they got right to the very complete set of links they’d organized for us.
If you’re a librarian, you’ll be familiar with the concept of “authority” files. If not, the concept is simple – an authority file lets
you standardize how you refer to people/places/things so they can be sorted and organized easily. The workshop offered us links to authority files on, among other things, geographic names, images and the lovely MODS file from the Library of Congress.( Go and look at it http://www.loc.gov/standards/mods/) So rule one in developing metadata – use the authority files! These links alone were worth the drive to Southbridge.
Then we moved right to the “work” part of the meeting. Tom Blake, Digital Projects Manager, and Danny Pucci, Lead Digital Projects Librarian, had brought additional BPL staff along, laughingly named the metadata mob.* As we began creating the metadata for the images we’d brought with us, each group got one of these highly skilled people to sit with us, looking over our shoulders, answering all our particular questions and guiding us to figure out how to bounce between the authority files and the form from the Digital Commonwealth. There’s nothing like doing something with an expert to coach. I think we all felt we got it and can easily move from this little workshop to creating good metadata files that will easily translate to the Digital Commonwealth website and provide access to everyone. As I said before – it was a great workshop.
By Carol A. Kelly, Member of the Board of the Friends, Sawyer Free Library, Gloucester
*Monica Shin, Nichole Shea, and Sarah Hayes