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HIS395H5S LGBTQ2+ Oral History: Queer Peel (Omeka S Assignment)

Why Metadata Matters?

Metadata, literally "data about data"; however, it might not be easy to understand with no prior experience. Murtha Baca, Head of the Digital Art History program at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, notes:

Metadata provides a means of indexing, accessing, preserving, and discovering digital resources. The volume of digital information available over electronic networks has created a pressing need for standards that ensure correct and proper use and interpretation of the data by its owners and users. Well-crafted metadata is needed more now than ever before and helps users to locate, retrieve, and manage information in this vast and complex universe.[1]

Let's look at the important concepts underpinning metadata ▼ ▼ ▼

Important Concepts in Metadata

For an oral history metadata model there are four important concepts/categories: descriptive, administrative, preservation, and technical metadata[2][3]:

  • Descriptive: provides attributes of the item being described ― the name of the author, interviewer, and narrator, the date and place of the interview ― and content information ― the title, summary, and keywords/controlled vocabulary.
  • Administrative: records information on provenance ― acquisition and appraisal information ― and rights (e.g., copyright holder and access rights). It also provides reproduction tracking. It also provides necessary information for preservation and includes number and location of copies, holding institution.
  • Preservation: documents the physical condition (if it is not born-digital), preservation and data migration record.
  • Technical: includes documentation on hardware and software and system-generated information (e.g., size, file format, compression ratios, and date stamps for recording), as well as technical data relating to any editing or transfers along the way.
  • Rights and access: This category documents ownership and rights to use, including copyright, use and fair use, permission criteria, and restrictions.

These concepts/categories can roughly be translated to metadata standards like Dublin Core.


[1] Murtha Baca, Introduction to Metadata, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2016), https://www.getty.edu/publications/intrometadata/
[2] Anne J. Gilliland, "Setting the Stage," in Introduction to Metadata, https://www.getty.edu/publications/intrometadata/setting-the-stage/.
[3] Edward M. Corrado and Heather Moulaison Sandy, Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, 2nd ed. (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), 66.

Dublin Core

Dublin CoreTM is a type of metadata standard, which has been used for oral history projects. Dublin Core (DC) is a small set of vocabulary terms developed for describing digital objects. DC is the minimum standard for describing digital objects.

Dublin Core comes in a simple (15 elements) and a larger set. The Simple Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) includes 15 metadata elements (terms). Each element describes a property of a resource (Metadata: Standards, Schemata, and Profiles, York University). You can modify the original elements.

Dublin Core (Original)

1. Title 2. Creator 3. Subject 4. Description 5. Publisher
6. Contributor 7. Date 8. Type 9. Format 10. Identifier
11. Source 12. Language 13. Relation 14. Coverage 15. Rights

A Tailored Version:

1. Title 2. Interviewee 3. Subject 4. Description 5. Publisher
6. Interviewer 7. Date Created 8. Type 9. Format 10. Identifier
11. Source 12. Language 13. Relation 14. Spatial Coverage (Location) 15. License
16. Extent (Duration) 17. References